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The talmud in Bechoros 5b says "When the Jewish people left Egypt, there wasn’t a single Jew who didn’t have [at least] ninety donkies laden with silver and gold from Egypt"

I assume there was not enough vegetation in the desert to feed all the animals the Jews had brought to carry their stuff, and also that whatever animal food they took from Egypt would not last forty years. If so, what were the animals fed and where did the Jews get it?

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Why do you assume that? – Seth J May 27 '13 at 14:49
i assume desert does not have sufficient vegetation. and also that whatever animal food they took from egypt would not last 40 years – ray May 27 '13 at 17:22
90 donkies full of gold? I guess the egyptian are not that evil after all. No wonder God told jews not to abhore egyptian. – Jim Thio Jul 14 '13 at 10:11

Rashi to Shemot 16:21 says:

and [when] the sun grew hot, it melted: What remained [of the manna] in the field melted and became streams from which deer and gazelles drank. And the nations of the world would hunt some of them [these animals] and taste in them the flavor of manna and know how great Israel’s praise was. — [from Mechilta]

It is possible that this is what the domesticated animals of the Jews drank as well, although I don't know if that itself would have been enough to sustain them, without food.

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It's possible that the livestock, as well as the people, fed on manna.

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Arnie Finley, and thanks for your suggestion, which would be much more valuable if you'd provide support for it, or for the likelihood of such a thing. – msh210 May 27 '13 at 16:12
The verse says they got 1 Omer of manna per head. Are you suggesting this included animals heads, or that people with more animals had less manna to eat for themselves? – Double AA May 28 '13 at 3:43
@DoubleAA: see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29874/603 – Menachem Jul 14 '13 at 2:04

Setting aside whether that Talmudic statement ought be understood literally, the natural question of how their animals were fed stands. The Israelites encamped at various settlements throughout the 40 years, some sites were rather fertile (for example Elim had "twelve wells of water and seventy date palms"). They engaged in nomadic pastoralism moving from location to location and presumably had to engage in political negotiations with other tribal entities in order to ensure access for their livestock to resources. One surmises that certain tribal nations (Amalek, Midian, Moab, etc.) felt sufficiently threatened by the Israelites such that they felt it necessary to wage war against them and attempt to eliminate them altogether (for an example of failed negotiations for safe passage in Numbers 20).

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How does this answer the question of what the animals ate? Are you saying that they'd go to a place, eat all the food, and then move on, fighting for grazing rights as necessary? – Monica Cellio Jul 11 '13 at 22:17

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