We are considering expanding our donkey pasture to an area that has quite a lot of elderberry bushes. Elderberry (sambucus) shows up on several lists online as being toxic for donkeys.
The pasture in question has plenty of grass, blackberries, sweet gum and seedling persimmon trees so there is plenty to eat. My experience with other animals is that they don't eat toxic plants unless there is nothing else. But given the donkeys browsing habits, I'd like to ask the group what their experience has been.
Cutting really won't help as elderberry resprouts vigorously resulting in new tender growth, and herbicides are out of the question for us. Elderberry provide food for fruit eating birds and nectar for many pollinators as well.
Has any body had a donkey sickened by elderberry leaves/bark? Will they leave it alone if there is plenty of other food?
Elderberries are one of the main foods we grow. We transplant them and grow them all over. And anxiously await their fruit. We eat lots and sell lots. I don't know what you do with donkeys, but I would not chance harming the elders. Not only do they supply a really good food (especially pie filling) but are a really helpful and powerful medicine (it's one of the things we used to avoid all the covid nonsense).
~~In our opinion, whatever you think is happening in the world, cultivating a natural landscape is an especially good idea. Growing lots of food and medicines that 95% of people will not recognize is a good idea. If you have a garden full of tomatoes, "neighbors" will want to share your harvest, if they get hungry. But few folks will know what mint, comfrey, choke cherries, Jerusalem artichokes, elderberries, black walnuts, hickory nuts, acorns, mushrooms, etc., are. There are hundreds of food sources that most don't know and will leave alone. For us, elderberries are very high on that list of great plants.
Creating sustainable life, beauty & food (with lots of kids and fun)
Hello Richard. I’ve read several places that the leaves, twigs, roots and unripe fruit are toxic to livestock. I have also read that if there’s quality food and forage they will probably leave it alone.
However, I have no actual experience with this issue. Hopefully someone will. I have friends with donkeys and will be asking.
Good evening Richard.
Since my last post I’ve spoke with two farmers who have donkeys. Both said that the animals seem to sense that the toxic plants are bad. Neither of them has had issues with their animals.
Found your post while idly searching things donkeys won't eat. Ours have not touched elder in 17 years and is on my hedging list as is buckthorn but it is a small list. Dry stuff in hay is another worry and would avoid.
There were plenty of elderberries where I used to pasture my donkey and we never had any problems
" Let the people, O God, confess to Thee: let all the people give praise to Thee:  The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us,  May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear Him." (Psalms 66/67)
passwords must contain 14 characters, a number, punctuation, a small bird, a bit of cheese and a tiny ad.