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Meet the donkeys put on a New Year diet because of overly generous dog walkers

PUBLISHED: 08:39 04 January 2019

Trevor Austin and Kara Barber�s three donkeys have been put on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Trevor Austin and Kara Barber�s three donkeys have been put on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Most of us are thinking about losing weight at this time of the year – and these donkeys are no different.

For the trio of animals in Burgh Castle have been over-indulged by well-meaning visitors to the stunning Roman fort – so are having to be put on a strict diet.

While treats and biscuits are always readily accepted by Dorothy, Alice and Ethel, they have been scolded by the vet and told to rein it in.

Off the menu is their coarse feed – the equine equivalent of sugary cereal – and instead it is simply grass and hay.

Their owners Trevor Austin and Kara Barber say some people are regularly handing out whole packets of ginger nuts and other goodies including, on one occasion, candy floss.

Trevor Austin and Kara Barber with two of the donkeys that are now on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodTrevor Austin and Kara Barber with two of the donkeys that are now on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Mr Austin, 63, said they loved the donkeys and felt mean restricting their diet, but knew it was for the best.

“We knew they were too fat,” Mr Austin, a semi-retired builder, said, adding: “I had to stand there looking like a school boy getting told off. We really love them and wanted to treat them. The local people really love them, they are part of Burgh Castle.

“We are doing our bit, now we need the dog walking people to do theirs.

“We heard one story about a man that was taking them a whole packet of ginger nuts regularly.

Trevor Austin and Kara Barber with two of the donkeys that are now on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodTrevor Austin and Kara Barber with two of the donkeys that are now on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

“One of them had rolls of fat all along her back. But like everyone else at Christmas they are going on a diet.”

He said the over-feeding had been going on for some time but came to a head when Alice had to see the vet for a sore foot, and all three were called out for being tubby.

At first they were miffed at the meagre rations braying and hee-hawing at 4.30am when Ms Barber, a postman, first visited them as she began her rounds

But the trio were already happier and had more energy just a few weeks into the new regime.

Trevor Austin and Kara Barber�s three donkeys have been put on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodTrevor Austin and Kara Barber�s three donkeys have been put on a strict post-Christmas diet after being overfed by dog walkers over the festive period. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The couple, who live in the village close to Ivy Farm where the donkeys live, suspect another donkey that died some years ago had been over-fed apples by well-meaning visitors.

For the time being the donkeys are being kept away from the public who were more than welcome to hand out healthy carrots – their new snack of choice – when they returned to the field.

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