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Donkeys Protect Sheep and Goats

Donkeys are being used by some sheep and goat ranchers to protect their herds from coyotes, foxes and bobcats. Donkeys live with sheep and goat herds and chase off predators. They bray loudly, which alerts the smaller animals to the presence of danger. Ranchers can also hear the donkey bray if they are close enough and help drive off any predators. Once in a while they will attack a predator that gets too close to the herd, and can stomp them to death.

The donkeys are relatively affordable as they live by foraging on the land and are essentially self-sufficient. Naturally they have a dislike of predators and act without training as guardians of herds of sheep and goats, which accept the donkeys into their herds. They can work in the fields for about 10-15 years providing protection all day and night long. Sheepherders generally have to monitor their health and make sure they have regular access to water. Usually pasture lands provide them with enough food. The Texas Dept. of Agriculture says one donkey can tend to up to 200 sheep. Guard donkeys will also cooperate with other guard animals such as sheep dogs, and even llamas.  (The use of llamas is depicted in the BBC video below).

Some people say donkeys have their own calm demeanor, which is different from horses. In a recent article about American Mammoth Jackstock Donkeys, it was reported that, “Unlike horses, the donkeys hardly ever spook. If Cadle and Gus (a breeder and her “watchdog” donkey) are out on a ride and he encounters a situation he’s uncomfortable with, he will stand there and determine how he feels about it before moving forward. He once jumped four feet so he wouldn’t have to touch a small puddle, but after that he was fine.”

In Australia, tens of millions of dollars in sheep losses to wild dogs have some sheep ranchers employing donkeys as guard animals, “Donkeys will actually live with the sheep, they’ll feed with them and camp with them and when a dog turns up, they will actually go out of the mob of sheep and they will chase them, they will try and stomp them and bite them.”

Guard donkeys would not be effective against larger predators like wolves or bears, because they would be prey for those large carnivores.

Image Credit: Public Domain

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Natural Pest Control, Nature & Wildlife, Pets, Wildlife, , ,

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10:16AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

That human ruined the video.

7:09PM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

I watched the video and my ears pricked up with the mention of : "government trapping". Seems nobody else heard that, or do they accept trapping ?

3:03AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012


5:53PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012


11:02AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Donkeys are brave animals, and can be very gentle and sweet.

7:20PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Donkeys rule! Donkeys are brave and wonderful creatures! :)

11:31AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Thank you for the article. Animmals are often more responsible and efficient than we think.

11:07AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Thanks for the article

9:03AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

Andrew Merrifield sets out on a journey of the soul with a friend’s donkey, through the crumbling ruins and spectacular vistas of southern France’s Haute-Auvergne. Along the way the understated nobility of Gribouille, his humble donkey companion, allows him to confront himself as well as to consider the larger mysteries of life. As Merrifield contemplates literature, science, truth, beauty, and the universality of nature amid the French countryside, Gribouille surprises him with his subtle wisdom, reminding him time and again that enlightenment is all around us if we but seek it. Traveling with Merrifield and Gribouille, we’re reminded of the exquisite benefits of nature, passive adventuring, and wild spaces.

Good book to read: The Wisdom of Donkeys

11:43PM PDT on Jun 12, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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