Donkeys can carry 20%-30% of their own body weight without much effort. They are intelligent and also smaller and more durable than horses.
Donkeys can not only carry a heavy load, but they can carry tools, supplies and other items that can disturb or “spool” a horse or other animals. They are sociable and adapt to humans easily, even following them without ropes.
In addition to being able to carry a lot, donkeys can survive hot, dry climates with little food or water. They have the strength and endurance of horses, without their nervous tendencies. Donkeys can double their role as a guard animals for sheep, goats, and cattle. They are durable, and are capable of living very long lives.
They can breed with horses, if necessary, though the offspring will be sterile. They have also been used as battle field “ambulances” to carry the wounded. I couldn’t find proof, but I would guess (at least traditionally) that donkeys were cheaper than horses.
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