If you’ve ever seen a pack of donkeys gathered together, you may have wondered what the correct term is for such a group. As it turns out, there are a few different words used to describe a collection of these hardy, hardworking animals.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: a group of donkeys can be called a drove, pace, herd, or team of donkeys.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll look in depth at the different terms used for groups of donkeys, where these interesting words originated from, and some examples of how they are used in context.

The Main Terms Used for Groups of Donkeys


A group of donkeys can be referred to as a “drove.” This term is used to describe a herd of donkeys that are being driven or guided by a person or animal. Typically, a drove consists of domesticated donkeys that are being transported or directed for agricultural, commercial, or migratory purposes.

For example, in the American Southwest, large droves of burros were historically guided to assist in transporting goods across desert terrain. Nowadays, smaller bands of 10-30 donkeys might be driven together as livestock.


A pace is another collective noun used to identify a group of donkeys. More specifically, a pace refers to a band of donkeys trained to walk at the same controlled speed. This term originates from the unique single foot symmetrical gait that donkeys naturally demonstrate when walking.

With a little guidance, donkeys can be conditioned to pace evenly together in an orderly and efficient fashion, which is useful for having them pull wagons, plows, or perform other synchronized tasks.


In a general sense, a herd is an appropriate name for a collection of donkeys dwelling together with minimal human oversight. In natural settings, donkeys tend to assemble themselves in herds for breeding, grazing, and protection purposes.

Both wild and feral donkey populations demonstrate herd behavior and cohesion. For instance, the wild burro herds in Death Valley inhabit the desert landscape in tight-knit groups of 2 to over 100 individuals.

These social bonds and herd mentality help the donkeys survive by detecting dangers more quickly. Typically, the herd is headed by a lead jenny (female donkey).


Lastly, a team is a term used to characterize a group of donkeys that have been trained to work together for a specific purpose. Donkey teams are commonly used to pull carts and wagons. However, they have also been taught tasks like plowing fields, powering machinery, hauling heavy materials in mining operations, carrying packs, and more.

Constructing a cohesive donkey team requires time, patience, and skill. But a successfully trained team demonstrates the incredible power, endurance and versatility that donkeys can offer as beasts of burden.

A single team may consist of just 2 attached donkeys up to sets of 6 or more pairs working in synchronization.

The Origins and Background of Each Term

Drove: Connection to Cattle Drives

The term “drove” to describe a group of donkeys likely originated from the practice of driving livestock over long distances. Cattle ranchers would gather together large herds of cattle and drive them hundreds of miles to market, railroad lines, or new grazing lands.

These long journeys were known as “cattle drives.” Since donkeys were often used as herd animals to lead and escort the cattle during drives, the term “drove” emerged as a way to describe a group of donkeys traveling together, just as cattle traveled together in a drove.

Pace: Based on Movement and Speed

A “pace” of donkeys refers to the unique gait and speed at which donkeys naturally walk. Donkeys have a distinctive two-beat lateral gait, moving both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side.

This pacing movement sets them apart from horses and other livestock that move at a trot or gallop. Donkeys also tend to walk at a steady, leisurely pace around 3-4 miles per hour. So a “pace of donkeys” captures their signature easygoing, meandering style of walking together in a line or group.

Herd: Shared With Other Livestock

“Herd” is a term used to describe large groups of many types of animals that congregate and graze together, including cattle, elephants, deer, and donkeys. Early domestication of donkeys meant they were often pastured alongside other livestock like cattle, sheep, and goats.

As herd animals, donkeys felt most comfortable gathering in groups for safety, bonding, and grazing efficiency. So donkey owners adopted the familiar term “herd” to refer to the natural clustering behavior of donkeys, just like other livestock species herd together.

Team: Group Working Together

A “team” conveys donkeys working together in a coordinated way to accomplish tasks. Donkeys have been used as pack animals and draft animals for thousands of years, carrying heavy loads and pulling carts in teams.

Trained teams learned to distribute the weight evenly and walk in sync to transport goods efficiently. Calling donkeys a “team” acknowledges their collective intelligence, communication, and collaborative abilities. It highlights how donkeys actively cooperate, not just passively gather in a group.

In modern times, donkeys may even participate in sporting team events like obstacle courses, reinforcing their identity as capable, cooperative teammates.

When to Use Each Term in Context

Referring to Wild Groups

When referring to a group of wild or feral donkeys, the proper term is a “herd.” This reflects the typical terminology used for assemblies of undomesticated animals in nature. Some examples include:

  • “We spotted a small herd of donkeys grazing in the field.”
  • “The herd of 30-50 wild donkeys roams the countryside.”

Using “herd” conveys the untamed, independent nature of these animals as they band together in the wilderness. It differentiates them from domesticated donkeys used for labor or pets.

Discussing Donkey Work and Labor

When writing about donkeys used for work and labor, common terms are “team” and “drove.” For example:

  • “The team of donkeys pulled the heavy cart full of crops.”
  • “The farmer led the drove of 12 donkeys towards the marketplace.”

These terms showcase the domesticated, trained role of these donkeys working together under human supervision. “Team” suggests joint effort, while “drove” connotes being actively herded while working.

Term Definition
Team A group of donkeys harnessed together to pull a vehicle or load
Drove A group of donkeys being actively driven or herded by a person

So “team” refers to structural grouping by harness, while “drove” means temporary steering by a driver.

Informal Versus Formal Usage

In casual or humorous contexts, a colorful collective noun like a “pace” or “parcel” of donkeys may be used. For example:

  • “Look at that adorable pace of baby donkeys frolicking in the meadow!”
  • “I’ll take a parcel of those donkeys off your hands if you don’t need that many.” 😉

However, in formal writing, the most universally accepted terms are “herd” for wild donkeys and “team” or “drove” for domesticated, working donkeys.

Statistical data shows donkey adoption rates rose 5% in 2022 as they gained popularity as low-maintenance pets during the pandemic. This growing trend may require new collective terms for backyard donkeys beyond the traditional labor-focused vocabulary.


As we’ve explored, there are several different words used to describe groups of donkeys, ranging from the very specific ‘team’ to the more general ‘herd’. While subtle differences exist between terms like drove, pace, and herd – they all essentially refer to packs of donkeys gathered together.

The next time you encounter a collection of these hardworking beasts of burden, you’ll be fully prepared to accurately name them!

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