When there is a mountain lion in the neighborhood and it's killing livestock, the
local authorities will often
come out and
track/kill mountain lions after they issue a permit
(In California, one
must have a permit to shoot a
mountain lion). Contact your local county trapper, animal
control or Fish and Game Department.
Occasionally local bears will attack sheep/goats. I was at a neighbor’s
ranch a few years ago. They
pointed out an old shed which housed their goats during the night. A bear clawed and
ripped the door off one night and grabbed one small goat.
doesn't happen too often, but between the mountain lions and the bear, a standard sized jennet and
good ranch dogs would be ideal. I also have ranch dogs here, they bark at night when a coyote or a fox pass thru. Predators tend to keep traveling when they realize dogs or donkeys mean business. In recent years my donkeys have even killed a some gray tree squirrels and a skunk who all made the mistake of taking a shortcut through the
One can get a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) jennet for usually $125,
less. But they
are wild and not halter trained or “people friendly” just yet,
although most will become so with good care and training. Some people who lack the time and
knowledge to train a donkey, find it is wiser to look for a donkey who is already gentle,
healthy, and will stand for a farrier.
Remember, like all livestock, donkeys require hoof
trimming by a knowledgeable farrier (at least two times per year), worming for parasites and annual vaccinations.A proper diet and a salt block are also important. The hooves must be trimmed and this can be
problematic if your donkey is not trained. Farriers will only come
out if a donkey can be caught and will stand quietly while hoof trimming is performed.A
farrier is not a trainer, so please don’t expect him/her to train your donkey for you.
can’t properly train your donkey, consider having a trainer work with your donkey. It may involve
sending the donkey out for 30 or 60 days for professional training.
Where to buy a standard donkey that fits the above criteria.....and hoping it's a
good match for sheep or goats? Good question! They are around, but it's not always easy
to find the perfect donkey. Check your local bulletin boards at feed stores, tack
shops, classified ads, or on the internet such as Craigs List.
Also.....donkeys are real easy keepers. They can grass founder from eating hay or pasture If you separate the goats or sheep at night or use a creep feeder, the smaller animals can then be fed grain, extra hay, etc. without the donkey getting the grain. In most cases, a donkey should NOT be fed any
grain or high protein feed. An overweight donkey will founder or get laminitis and
become painfully lame over time. Their weight must be carefully monitored. In the winter, due to the donkey’s thick coat, it’s wise to actually feel through the coat and feel for the ribs and hip bones. Sometimes simply looking from afar, one can miss
an overweight or underweight donkey without actually touching it.
If your donkey is getting too thin in
the winter, your veterinarian might recommend you increase the daily feed and have the donkey’s teeth
examined. Donkeys, as well as horses benefit from equine dentistry.
Just like small
farm animals, donkeys require a shelter from the elements. It
doesn’t have to be fancy, even a three
sided shed will keep the rain off their backs. Donkeys tend to fare
better in the summer heat than most horses, but a shelter should be
available for the mid-day sun should the donkey want a shady
spot to rest. Fresh water and a salt block should always be readily
It is recommended
to monitor a donkey jennet when you initially put her in with goats
or sheep. Occasionally even a jennet can be aggressive. Put them in pens next to each other for perhaps a week so one can monitor their behavior. Be perceptive when they are finally put together.
Watch for any warning signs of aggression to indicate if your donkey is not the perfect match for your farm animals. Sometimes it may take a little longer to keep them in separate pens, although most jennets will be just fine with farm animals. In any event, when first introduced together, have some escape routes available for the smaller animals just in
In general, one can find a standard donkey from $200. to $800. Some donkeys that are for sale are already extremely overweight due to negligence on the owner’s part.
Donkeys store their weight on their neck, ribs and rump. Their thick necks get so large that they tip
to one side, commonly referred to as a “broken crest”. Fat pads may accumulate on donkeys ribs and rump.
Many people think that if a donkey doesn’t have a hay-belly like a horse, his weight is o.k. A lot of donkeys don’t get a hay-belly, but are extremely overweight. Horses will get a
hay-belly, donkeys not so much.
I would not recommend buying an overweight donkey that has already foundered.
If in doubt, request a large animal veterinarian to examine the donkey prior to buying it. It's called a
"pre-purchase exam" and it runs usually from $200 to $400 (paid for
by the prospective buyer).
Some veterinarians will recommend x-raying the donkeys hooves if they suspect it might have
foundered. Money well spent if you plan on keeping the donkey for
There are always exceptions to the rule when recommending a jennet
over a gelding. Occasionally a gelding will work out successfully as a livestock guardian, and
perhaps not all jennets will be the perfect solution for your farm animals. Seldom does an intact
jack succeed in protecting small livestock.
Consider adopting a
couple of gentle standard donkeys from a very well respected rescue
to serve as livestock guardians. One donkey rescue in southern California is the
Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.
They have several hundred standard donkeys.
For more information on this subject, read “Livestock Guardians, Using Dogs, Donkeys and Llamas to Protect Your Herd”, by Janet Vorwald Dohner, published in 2007.