The mule is perhaps the best-known and most widely used hybrid of two mammal species. Its history is long, since thousands of years ago. But what is a mule?
The mule is the result of mating a male donkey with a mare. Mating can take place naturally, where donkeys and horses live together, or it can be done through human intervention, which either puts the two partners together in the same enclosure or artificially inseminates the female horse with the donkey’s genetic material. Mules have always existed, intentionally or accidentally.
The little mule is characterized by what specialists call the “vigor of the hybrid.” That is, the hybrid borrows the best characteristics of the species from which the parents come. The mule inherited endurance, strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, and self-control, from the donkey, and the athletic abilities, beauty, and speed from the horse.
How Much Does A Mule Cost?
If you are thinking about buying a mule then you should know that its price starts at around $1,000 and can go up to $8,500. However, the majority of the mules are sold at prices anywhere between $1,200 and $3,300. The costs are influenced by some factors such as the age of the animal, the number of competitions won, the number of appearances in shows, and how well it is trained.
When it comes to physical appearance, it is obvious that it is a combination of horse and donkey. The body retains the elegant shapes of the horse, is a little longer, and maybe a little more robust. The donkey’s genes are best seen in the head area. The head is large and thick, with large “donkey-like” ears. The mane is shorter than that of the horse, but the tail retains its characteristics.
The dimensions of the mule vary and are directly proportional to those of the parents. Depending on the breed of horses and donkeys that were used for hybridization, we can have dwarf, heavy, or very athletic mules. The color of the robe is varied and is in accordance with the characteristics of the parents. However, it lacks the black dorsal stripes of the donkey. Even his vocalizations are a combination of horse and donkey.
Mules are completely sterile animals. This is the main difference between mules and horses. The sterility of mules is in fact a direct consequence of the fact that both parents of this hybrid belong to different species. Mules are produced for a single purpose, namely to be used for intensive work.
Mules live as long as donkeys or horses, reaching even 30 to 40 years of age.
What are the extra costs?
When purchasing a mule you should know that there are some extra maintenance costs related to owning a mule besides its purchasing cost. You should consider the shoeing, the feeding, and the vet costs as well.
Every mule needs shoes and these have to be replaced every two to three months. Plan on spending around $75 every time you replace your mule’s shoes. You can cut these upkeep costs in half if you choose to do this job yourself and not hire a professional.
Expect to spend anywhere between $110 and $160 per month for the hay, in order to feed your mule properly. There are farms that charge around $22 for a bale of hay. In case you have a pasture where the mule can run, you will be able to reduce the costs of feeding.
In order to keep your mule healthy, you will have to take it to periodic vet visits. The amount of money you may spend on your mule’s health greatly depends on the way you take care of the animal.
Factors Affecting Mule Cost
The cost of a mule is influenced by several important factors. Among those, the most important ones to determine the cost are:
Age of the Mule
The age of the mule you’re considering buying is very important when figuring out its price. You will get a better price for an equine pet that is young and ready for work compared to older mules or ones that are either ill-equipped for harder work. Health also plays an important role and is influenced by age.
Economic Conditions of the Country
A very important factor affecting the mule’s cost is the overall condition of the economy of the country, A better economy offers people a lot more money to spend, which also raises the overall prices of goods and services. And mules aren’t an exception to this rule.
Supply And Demand Trends in Market
The demand and supply trends of the market will dictate whether the price of a mule goes up or down. The demand for mules is bound to fall and the number of mules for sale will increase if their price is high, while the opposite will happen when situations are reversed. When it comes to mules, this demand-supply curve is rather stable. But this might also depend on your specific area or city. The demand is higher in mountainous regions, which makes the prices go up as well.
The gender of the mule isn’t as important in its price, as both male and female mules are infertile.
Important things to consider
It is often said of mules that they are stubborn. In fact, this is more about intelligence. The mules are smarter than horses, a quality inherited from the donkey, and will never act in such a way as to endanger their lives (a positive thing for the owner, who avoids danger).
Mules will always stop when they do not feel safe, when the terrain seems dangerous, unlike horses that go on until death. The ability to discern between good and evil and the strong instinct of self-preservation have attracted the label of stubborn animals.
Mules are more resistant than horses, both in terms of effort and in terms of diseases and parasites. Mules eat less and are less demanding on food. It has been shown that donkeys have the same ability to manage water reserves as camels, a quality inherited by the mule. The thicker skin and fur, as well as the innate resistance, allow the mule to adapt to extreme environmental conditions, very hot or very cold, so it is preferred instead of horses in many parts of the world.
Reasons Why You Should Have a Mule
There could be several reasons behind purchasing a mule. Are you interested in buying a mule? But you are confused between a mule and a horse. We will make it easier for you to choose one based on our discussion below.
- Mules tolerate heat better than horses and they usually need less water. This is because this particular animal will take more of the characteristics of the donkey parent, which is a lot more adapted to hot conditions than the other parent, the horse. This is why it is a lot more likely for a horse to suffer from heat exhaustion than a mule.
- The longevity is also different between mules and horses. Horses can only live an average of 25 to 30 years, while mules will have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years.
- Mules have an easier time in harsh weather conditions with the help of their tough skin. The hooves of mules will also last longer, needing considerably fewer horseshoe replacements. While a mule will likely go for horseshoe replacement after two to three months, a horse will likely need to have their horseshoes replaced every six weeks or so.
- Mules have more endurance than both of their parents, while also being stronger than donkeys. They are more patient when needing to carry heavier loads, while also being able to carry more weight. Their different attitude and mindset, coupled with their intelligence, are other reasons why people would pick mules over horses.
- Mules are less likely to get infected by diseases as they are more resistant. This also means that mules have a lower overall medical cost than horses.
- Not only the costs to keep it but also the purchase price are lower when it comes to a mule, which makes it a better choice than horses budget-wise.
Reasons Why Should Not You Have a Mule
Now let’s go over why some people might not like to get mules. What traits or characteristics would make people stay away from mules? Here are just some of the things to consider before you get the mule:
- It’s not uncommon for an angry mule to cause you an injury by kicking. And they are known to have a bad temper. Horses, as you might know, can also kick, but what makes mules special is the fact that they can kick out using their front feet, something a horse can’t. They can easily kick with their hind legs as well. This is one of the main factors why people would avoid buying a mule.
- Although most of the time mules will be easier to feed than horses, you should keep in mind that they don’t tolerate very high-energy food or high protein levels in their feed. This means that you need to be on top of the diet and protein levels in the feed of your animal.
- A horse saddle doesn’t necessarily fit on a mule. These animals need a special mule saddle as they have a different shoulder type. A specialized briddle, which is also called a mule headstall, which fastens at the back of the ears, is another thing you will need for your mule. So along with the mule, you will also have to consider other costs, even if you already have horses and horse equipment.
- If you’re very experienced with horses but not so much with donkeys, then you will have to adapt to the new animal, as mules are known to think more like their donkey parent than a horse. If you’re not used to dealing with a mule, you will have a hard time dealing with its attitude, even if you’re an experienced horse rider or handler, as mules are known to take the initiative when you least expect it.
- Mules are infertile which means breeding mules is impossible. Even if you find an amazing cross, it might be pretty hard to repeat it by the time you find out your mule has an exceptional set of characteristics.
How can I save money?
If you are lucky enough you may be able to purchase a cheap mule from a owner that is just tired of the stubborn behavior of the animal.