Love your animals? Have predators that love them for a different reason? Have a special, childhood attachment to Eeyore? Sounds like you may be in the market for a good old-fashioned defense donkey! You heard me right, that ornery barnyard brute may actually have a use beyond pulling a cart, and biting a chunk out of that nosy neighbor kid’s overalls. Read on for some donkey-related duties that can keep your critters safe and sound.
While dogs are a more traditional choice for keeping predators away, it turns out donkeys can really hold their own in an interspecies slugfest. Sure, they tend to overlook smaller pests like raccoons, and it would take one tough jackass to stand up to apex predators, but they hold their own just fine against common nuisances.
For starters, if you can, try to raise your donkeys with whatever flock or herd of animals they’ll be protecting. Sure, if you’re reading this article a little late in the game, you can introduce a guard donkey into the mix later on (provided its a jenny or gelding), but foals that grow up with its protectees will more naturally adapt to their role as leaders and caretakers. This is especially true considering donkeys are not really herd-minded by nature. They are far more independent, and territorial. This means they will likely feed and socialize with other animals, only reacting when a threat appears, rather than patrolling around like sentries. Luckily, their dumbo-esque ears and wide field of view make them perfect for this sort of assignment.
If your main problem is wolves or coyotes, congrats! Donkeys, it turns out, are aggressive by nature against canines. When confronted by them, they will kick at them with crushing blows, and bite them if they get any closer. They cannot handle multiple dogs at once, or larger predators like bears or hogs, but they can at least alert you to the danger with loud braying.
One thing to note–true jacks (or ungelded males) are likely too rough to serve as guard animals. While all donkeys are a little rude, jacks are so mean as to actually kill sheep and other livestock if pestered too much. Best to stick to jennies and geldings.
Okay, so I know I just said donkeys can’t really handle larger predators BUT, every now and then, you get a donkey that spent some time training down in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink. One such donkey, named Poppy, lives in Paradise, California. An otherwise peaceful day in the sun was interrupted when she happened to notice her protectee goat, Buttermilk, being attacked by a mountain lion. Springing quickly into action, Poppy laid into the lion with everything she had, eventually dishing out enough damage to run it off. After the attack, Poppy wouldn’t leave Buttermilk until she made a full recovery. While the story is a few years old, you can read the full details of this exceptional story here.
So, looking for loyalty and the combative chops to back it up? Consider a donkey or two for your next barnyard buddies. Yours may not be able to take on a mountain lion like Poppy (though, who knows), but they will almost certainly be able to keep away the local coyotes.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”