As I was in the kitchen today making some toast and jam with my favorite Jacked Up Jam (Needle In A Haystack), I looked out of the window and saw what I thought to be a coyote running across the field behind my backyard.
No big deal, I thought to myself because the field was empty at the time, but what if that coyote was in the same field with my favorite mini donk, Lovebug. Could Lovebug hold her own? Could Lovebug protect her own foals against a wiley coyote (lol)?
We know that mini donks make great pets, but do they share the trait of protector like their full size cousins? Could Lovebug be plugged into security detail around the farm?
One thing we do know, mini donkeys are intelligent and have a lot of brayin’ power (hee haw), but are they tough enough to guard the herd? Long answer short, NO!
They are absolutely, undeniably NOT an appropriate livestock guardian. They are just too small.
No matter what you’ve been told by the farmer down the road, or what you’ve read online…DON’T EVER rely on miniature donkeys to be protectors of other livestock around the farm! Period. They are just not big enough to fend off predators (or even moderate sized dogs).
According to The National Miniature Donkey Association:
“The mini’s lack of height, weight and bone mass puts them BELOW any aggressive dog. It is the exception that a mini will take on a dog of 60 lbs. or more. Mini’s can be effective with controlling, deflecting and even killing small prey. On that list armadillos, rabbits, raccoons, beagles, poodles, spaniels and other non-aggressive dog.”
If you are a breeder, no doubt you’ve received hundreds of well meaning calls going something like this … “We have some cows (or sheep or goats or ??) and I’ve always wanted a cute miniature donkey. I’ve heard they are wonderful guardians so I can just get one to guard my (fill in the blank here) and I’ll have my donkey and a guardian too.” It’s a topic that is still very misunderstood.
Donkeys have a natural aversion to dogs (and other animals) that invade their territory. They will react in one of two ways: either they will run, causing a vicious chase/attack by the intruder or they will defend themselves (and their ‘flock’) likely losing the battle if the intruder is of any size.
What is the better protector? Livestock Guardian Dogs or Mammoth Donkeys (if you just have to have a donkey for the job).
It’s our desire to help in getting the correct information out there. If you are a purchaser and needed the answer, we’re hoping this article will be informative. If you are a breeder, please feel free to refer folks to this article…we’d like to stamp out as much misinformation as possible once and for all.
WARNING: At the end of this article are some very graphic pictures of what can happen (and very often HAS happened). They are disturbing. Please do not scroll down if you cannot handle the terrible sight of what is possible when miniature donkeys are forced to fend for themselves or other livestock. (You have been warned).
I’d like to mention that this particular little donkey in the pictures had a good ending but it took a very long time to overcome the suffering. And suffer, she did. Unfortunately, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of animals that do not have the happy ending that Chantelle did.
There are way too many horror stories about numerous attacks on miniature donkeys. We can provide you names if you want to reach out to owners that have lost their precious animals (contact us via email if you need more information from owners who have lost their donkeys due to attack).
If your mini donkey is on its own, which “tisk tisk” it should never be, they can be pretty ineffective protectors of themselves, much less of other farm animals around them.
In a herd, however, you might have a pretty effective deterrent for SMALL stray predatory varmints. (Another factor determining whether you will get protection from your mini donk is what danger level might be lurking.)
There are a few circumstances where the little guys can step up and use those powerful little stumps to kick some @$$. You know…like if a man-eating armadillo were to invade.
This is something I have thought about quite a bit as I have been questioning experts and thumbing through research.
How will I even know if little Lovebug is in danger or not?
We know mini donks bray for a variety of different reasons, but will they bray if danger is near?
Here’s what I’ve learned…
Apparently mini donkeys have different brays depending on emotion. Mini donks that are happy can let out a beautiful “singing” bray (lol). The singing donk’s are usually extroverts and will bray more often than introvert donks. There are many donkeys that will let out the loudest, most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard when they see their owners nearing their paddock. Right before they come running for a scratch and a hug.
There is also a thing as too much braying and that is typically when your mini donkey is stressed by ‘something’. That ‘something’ can sometimes mean danger.
It is also important to note that your little mini might just run off when danger is near. If they’ve been spooked they may be long gone to the far reaches of the pasture. For that reason alone it is probably best that you shouldn’t rely on your mini donk to let you know if something bad is going on with your herd!
Now that we have discussed that Lovebug makes a better love-bug than a guard-bug, we can look at some ways that YOU can protect your miniature donkeys so they can live an stress-free awesome life.
*Always use woven wire fence (the smaller the better) to keep predators out. Dogs and coyotes have no problem getting across barbed wire, don’t use it.
*Consider putting your animals up at night (most of their predators are nocturnal) if you have a barn available.
*While I haven’t spoken with anyone that has tried one of these, there’s an interesting product that I plan to check out. A solar operated predator control light. It is described as emitting a red light at night that replicates the blink of a human’s or predators eyes. If you’ve tried it let us know. There’s a few companies that make them. Here’s one on amazon: Night Guard Solar Predator Control Light
So if your miniature donkey isn’t your choice for guardian of the farm, what is the best alternative?
There are several options out there that can peacefully coexist with your minis and also step up to the protector role. Probably one of the best protectors to keep your mini’s and other livestock safe is to introduce a mammoth donkey (or two) to the herd.
Full-size donks are well known for their ability to keep themselves and, if trained properly, your mini’s and other livestock safe. On the other hand, man's best friend, a dog is also a suitable alternative and might be the most preferred by farmers. If you choose a dog as a guard animal, please note that you will need to slowly introduce the dog to help your mini not see the dog as a threat and also so that the dog won’t see your mini as a meal. They will grow to love each other as you can see in the image at the top of this article.
When it comes time to consider the safety of your herd of miniature donkeys and other livestock, it seems the best course of action is to go for an alternative that is better suited for the job than a miniature donkey. A mammoth donkey or a livestock guardian dog (LGD) seem to be the way that most farmers should go when choosing a protector.
At the end of the day you need to rest easy knowing that your little guys are living happily and stress free.
For more info on miniature donkeys or if you are in the market for fun miniature donkey merch click here and happy browsing!
*As indicated above we are including some very graphic images of what is likely to happen if a miniature donkey is put in a situation of being forced to fend for itself. There is intentional space left between the article and the images so that you are not forced to see something disturbing if you choose to just take our word for it and stop scrolling now.
This little donkey, Chantelle, is owned by Bill & Jenny Davis of Mt. Vernon, Missouri. In Jenny's words..."She was a year old when 3 neighborhood dogs came through our fence and attacked her. We now have 1" x 2" woven wire to keep predators away from our donkeys. It was only by the grace of God & excellent veterinary care at the University of Missouri that she survived."
Please help spread the word and stamp out the misinformation.
I have three min mother daddy and little girl love them they a very safe
Thank you for posting this. I get many calls for guard donkey and the minis can’t even protect themselves.
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January 24, 2022