2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6, Page #22[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Mini Mules Catching On Fast
“Because you have to cross a donkey with a horse, the novelty of seeing what you get each time is exciting. Miniature horses have such a wide range of colors and patterns that you never know what the mule will look like,” explains Leah Patton, registrar for The American Donkey and Mule Society.
Mules that are less than 50 in. tall are considered miniature, and were once fairly common because they were used to pull carts in coal mines. There was a severe decline in numbers for a while, but since miniature horses and donkeys have become popular again, mini mule numbers have also increased.
Patton emphasizes that people who buy mini mules must understand that miniatures may actually be more challenging than full-size mules.
“Mules are very intelligent. A mini mule knows it’s a smart mule. They have as much or more attitude than a big mule. They have to be handled right from the start and carefully trained.”
Mule trainers have a saying that to train a mule one must be smarter than the mule. Mules get bored easily and are smart enough to refuse to do something they don’t understand or that will injure them.
For easier handling, all male mules should be castrated even though they’re sterile from birth. Mini mules need to be wormed and vaccinated, and provided with shelter, good hay or graze, fresh water and small grain rations. They fatten easily, however, so they usually do well on less feed than horses and donkeys.
Prices for them vary wildely through the country, Patton says, but halter-trained weanlings or yearlings typically sell for $100 to $400. Mini mule owners often harness them to pull carts or use them to give rides to small children. Many just keep them as pets.
“If you want a mini mule, see what’s out there first,” Patton suggests. “If you haven’t got experience breeding or raising foals, it’s much better to go ahead and purchase a mature animal than try to breed. There are plenty of equines out there needing homes.”
Don’t buy animals sight unseen, she emphasizes. Visit the farm, catch the mule, and see how it’s handled. Always get a written contract and records of shots, hoof trims, etc. Keep the mule quarantined for a while when you get it home.
“Then take your time getting to know your mule,” Patton says.
For more information, check out the American Donkey and Mule Society website.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The American Donkey and Mule Society, P.O. Box 1210, Lewisville, Texas 75067 (ph 972 219-0781; www.lovelongears.com).
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