Breeding Mules & Hinnys
Are you interested in breeding a mule or a hinny? Have you ever bred one before? If the answer is no, then there are a few things you should know from our experiences.
Breeding a Mare to a Jack
My mare has never seen a donkey before.
Unless your mare grew up around Donkeys, she will most likely not be receptive to being covered by one. In fact, most horses are actually scared of donkeys - their loud and chatty cousins. Many Jacks can also be aggressive, and this will make live cover even more daunting. If your mare is scared of the Jack, she will not become receptive and you will not be able to tell when she is in cycle. Like wise if the mare is violent to the Jack, he will not attempt to mount. Beware the breeder that offers to turn your mare out in the pasture with their Jack. Not only can they hurt each other, but she might not even get covered since equines who do not grow up together, usually do not cross specie lines.
This Jack isn't breeding my mare.
If your mare is receptive to the Jack, but the Jack has never been exposed to horses and breeding, he will only try and mount Jennets and your mare will fail to be covered during her cycle. In natural situations Jennies engage in different courtship displays than horses do, and they actively seek out and pursue the jack. Studies have found that the sexual interaction of a harem of jennies plays an important role in attracting a jack. Because of this we offer Breed Training services to help ease this process.
Selecting the right mare.
Contrary to what most people may think, you can't just select any mare to breed and get a quality mule. You do not want to breed a hot tempered or nervous mare. The mare you want needs to have a sound mind, be fairly easy going, and have a willingness to learn. She should be at least 4 years old, and palpated by an equine vet. With mares older than 10 who have not been bred, you may want to biopsy her uterus to find out is she will be able to conceive.
What about selecting for conformation?
Because a mule is a hybrid animal, conformation flaws may be expressed more due to the Jacks influence. While the mares conformation should be as sound as possible, it is especially important that the Jack express good conformation as well. Before breeding to a unknown Jack, check to see if the owner has him registered with anyone. Most Donkey & Mule societies will offer a stud book that assign scores based on conformation or performance.
When should I handle my baby mule?
Right away. Because of the nature of the Donkey, it is very important to have your baby mule imprint onto humans. Establishing a positive human interaction with your baby mule will make training them easier in the future. If your mule learns to distrust people, whether from being mishandled or mistreated, it may make training them impossible.
Breeding a Jennet to a Stallion
Why a hinny over a mule?
When you breed a female donkey (Jenny) to a male horse (Stallion) the resulting offspring is called a Hinny. Hinnies look almost like mules, but are slightly different. In some circumstances, horsemen prefer hinnies over mules because they are hardier than their more horse-like siblings. Because a hinny is born to a donkey mother, they typically have more donkey than horse characteristics. The hinny is typically more slow-going and a meticulous mover - this makes them great for trail and pack animals, but not so much for endurance racing. However their endurance is far beyond that of a mule. They inherit more of their mother Donkeys metabolism, and can go longer periods without water, as well as sustain themselves off of sparser vegetation that mules will avoid. These characteristics make the hinny ideal for mountain climates.
What to expect when breeding.
When breeding for a hinny, matching the size of a stallion is important as larger stallions can produce larger foals, and hybrids are typically larger any way. So keep in mind that while donkeys typically handle foaling with no problems, larger foals will often cause complications and she may need some assistance. When a Jennet is in cycle, she will often champ at the mouth, bray more, mount other jennies or allow them to mount her. She will also show heat signs like that of a horse, and will urinate more and wink. However she may not show these signs to a stallion. And the stallion may not have interest in mounting the jenny. Jennies also have a lower catch rate than horses, so she may need to be bred multiple times before conceiving.
What is the risk of twins?
When breeding standard and mammoth donkies, there is a higher chance of twins when compared to breeding horses. Multiple ovulations are seen in standard donkeys form 5.3-31.8% of the time and seen in mammoths up to 61% of the time. Make sure your vet checks her from 15-22 days in to breeding. While twins can be born viable, it isn't very common. Often they will be naturally aborted, or born still born. Please make sure you consult your vet about what to do in these situations. Recent research in the last 15 years suggests that twins in donkeys is an inherited trait. So future offspring may express this complication when breeding.
Can I handle my baby hinny?
Like the baby mules, it is important to imprint on your baby hinny. However proceed with caution! If this is your Jennys first foal, or your first time foaling with her, she may be very protective. Naturally donkey mothers are extremely protective, and can become very aggressive even towards people they love and have bonded to. Take your time and don't force her. She'll be more than happy to show her baby off to you in a week or so. If you force the introduction, the baby hinny will learn from its mothers reaction and see you as something they should fear.
Is Artificial INSEMINATION or Embryo Transfer right for me?
In the case of twins, may breeders have tried taking one of the embryos and transferring it to another female. When doing this from donkey to donkey, the success rate has been less than 20%. However research in preserving rare breeds of donkeys show that when transferring a donkey embryo into a mare, the success rate was 70%.
Frozen semen is a viable option for mare and jenny owners now, but you have to make sure your vet understands that frozen or chilled jack semen has different temperature, extender, and cryoprotectant requirements than stallion semen.
Agave's Tequila Night (on left) and Dogwood's Black Dahlia (on Right). Tequila was artificially inseminated by a Tennessee Walking Stallion, 15 days later we realized she had two embryos in her. Instead of breeding Dahlia like we planed, we used her as a surrogate.
Top Mule Producers
American Mammoth Jack
Dogwood's Hopalong Harley
Large Standard Jack
Want to book a breeding ?
We are equipped to offer three difference breeding services here at Blue Agave Ranch.
How long do you board them?
Gestation for horses is typically 11 months, while donkeys are 12-13. To make it easier on the female, we keep her here before she goes into her cycle, and then it will be about 12 days after breeding to see if she has taken. If not, we have to wait till she cycles again and breed her. To limit the stress on the female we recommend that she stay with us until we can confirm she is in foal. We offer short term board in this case, or if you'd like her to stay the entire gestation we offer long term board. Some of our clients bring their girls here for breeding, and then take them home but bring them back for foaling.
My mare has never seen donkeys
Because she is a mare, AI might be a better recommendation for you as she'd be more likely to catch. If you want your mare to stay here and be bred, she will also need breed training which we can provide while she stays with us.
What Jack do I breed to?
All of my jacks have been hand selected for personality, trainability, and build. I would be happy to help you pick the right one for your next mule! From my experience, here is what I have learned so far.
You don't need a big jack to throw a big mule. Our average jack for saddle-mule breeding is 14.3hh, and typically their foals are a hand taller than the mare used. Because they are a hybrid animal, they will typically be larger than both parents.
When looking for a Gaited Mule, you want to breed a gaited Jack to a gaited mare. There are some breeds of donkeys around the world that are gaited, mostly here in America we have mixed breed standard and mammoth donkeys that show different gaites. However at Blue Agave Ranch, we import and breed Pega donkeys specifically for gaited mules.
If you want a performance mule, you need an athletic and proven performance producer. There is a well established industry for Racing Mule breeding, and many of the jacks used go on to produce great performance mules.