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Do Donkeys Make Good Livestock Guardians?

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Yes, donkeys are known as fierce protectors of lifestock and land. But, this is a very common misconception that the donkeys suffer for.. let me explain...


DONKEYS AS GUARDIANS

We are often approached by people wanting donkeys to protect either sheep, goats, or other stock from coyotes or other wildlife threats. There are several reasons we do not adopt animals to be used in this manner.


• Mini and some small donkeys are no match for a coyote. Having seen donkeys after a run in with a domestic dog we have no doubt a wild animal would inflict at least as much damage. It is simply not safe.


• We have taken in many animals as surrenders due to the fact they attacked and in some instances even killed the stock they were meant to protect.


• Being on pasture all day is a big NO-NO for donkeys. We need to keep in mind that donkeys are a desert species that have evolved over the years getting by on minimal forage of minimal nutritional value, which they have to walk miles on hard, rocky ground to reach. We do them no favors by putting them in a big, grassy pasture. They are not little horses with big ears! Their dietary needs and metabolism are much different than those of a horse.  We strongly recommend a dry lot for donkeys for at least part of the day.  They need some time on terra firma. Our pastures in New England are often wet throughout the year. The moisture is not good for their feet.  We use sur-pack or stone dust as a base for our dry lots. They do need some time to be grazing and browsing but all day every day is too much.


When we get down to it, our wonderful long eared companions just deserve better than being used as a means for protection. They are smart, intelligent beings who want to be loved and have companionship with their people and fellow donkey friends. Not protecting themselves from potential danger, being in fight or flight mode for the rest of their days.


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