Wild oats and donkeys?

Posted by Lotg on November 16, 2004

In Reply to: Wild oats and donkeys? posted by Rude Boy on November 15, 2004

: : : : I have just finished watching and episode of "Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly Winks" (because now my televsion viewing consists solely of children's television and the occasional BBC crime drama) in which Piggly feeds his donkey oats in an effort to turn him into a race horse, to disprove the proverb "you can't turn a donkey into a race horse".

: : : : Anyway... according to the story, if you feed an animal too many oats it goes a little crazy, gets very frisky (not sure if this is meant in the naughty sense) and is, at least temporarily, full of energy.

: : : : I thought I'm mention this because it seems a likely basis for the expression "feeling your oats" or "sewing your wild oats". From those of you who know about these things, it would be useful to know if this is true.

: : : : As an aside, if you have small children about, I can't recommend Jakers enough. It's a very sweet show. It reminds me of my own childhood, spent hunting for fairies and leprechauns in the days before Sesame Street.

: : : An old friend of mine used to say that he 'planted a lot of wild oats and always prayed for one heck of a crop failure.'

: : I don't know what happens to a ruminant that eats too many oats. As for wild oats, I know only what the OED tells me: "4. a. Phr. to sow one's wild oats: to commit youthful excesses or follies; to spend early life in dissipation or dissolute courses (usually implying subsequent reform). (In reference to the folly and mischief of sowing wild oats instead of good grain.)
: : 1576 NEWTON Lemnie's Complex. II. 99 That wilfull and vnruly age, which lacketh rypenes and discretion, and (as wee saye) hath not sowed all theyr wyeld Oates." There is a literature on wild oats, that is, a species of oats growing wild, but I found nothing about any unusual effect on donkeys. SS

: If there were anything about 'wild oats' and 'donkeys' it would probably be in Danish. Don't go there - even I'm not willing to google it.

I don't know about the positive connotations of feeding ruminants oats - there is probably a brief period of friskiness - but ultimately if you feed them too much, you can overheat them, make them very sick. In the case of horses, you can cause them to founder - I assume the same would happen to donkeys, but don't know.