Friday, October 10, 2014

Guard Donkey and Her Gelded Sidekick





As the days stay cool and the nights get almost cold once again the livestock around the Small-Hold go through their normal changes. They become more active, at least when it isn't raining. This year the rams are all running around trying to get the attention of the ladies through the fence. This is the first year we have kept ewes up near the barn and it is proving to be interesting.

Typically all the ewes and the lambs go to the Summer pasture after the lambs get big enough so they are not easy prey. The rams are a good 2 miles or more away from the ewes until the first of November when we put them in the Winter breeding lots and introduce the rams to their respective harems. However since I kept the non-bred ewes and whethers in their own little group for weed control I now have six ewes going into season because of the cooler weather right up close to the rams. So far this hasn't caused any problems because the ewes are more interested in food than rams much to the disappointment of the rams I might add.

The cutting crew did their job very well and ate the sections I had for them down to where I know I won't need to mow it now at all this year. Since the hayfield is also done for the year I just opened up the gate behind the barn and let the sheep have at it. I had tried to cut them off a section of the hayfield to keep the sheep and the horses apart but the sheep kept going right through the temporary electric fence especially now that their wool is nice and thick and getting out into the field.

At first I was a bit worried that the horses might try and get out or chase the sheep but while the sheep could care less about the electric fence the horses are still deathly afraid of it. The horses also completely ignore the sheep so I just left the arrangement as it was. It has worked well now for the last two weeks or so.

The other day I noticed something new developing though. The old donkey who started life carry Mary to Bethlehem began hanging out with the sheep. Then the gelding who is always being picked on by those vicious old mares began hanging out with the sheep. At first the sheep were a bit afraid of the gelding although they had no issue with the donkey but after a day or so they accepted him as one of their own and now they are always together out there grazing away.

Then the cold nights brought the coyotes back running and yipping in the night. We have never had any issues with coyotes bothering our full grown sheep but then again we never had them out in the hay field before either. When I heard the coyotes close enough that I was sure they were out there in the field close to the little sheep flock I walked out to take a look. The moon was bright enough I could make out the white sheep along with the donkey and the gelded paint about fifty yards or so out. The sheep began making a bee-line for the barn but the donkey and the gelding turned to face off in the direction of the coyotes.

I know that donkey does not suffer a dog to get close to her and neither do the horses for that matter. The stray lab mix who moved in with us a few years ago found that out for himself. Well apparently this hatred for canines extends to the coyotes as well because it was pretty obvious they were not going to  tangle with the donkey. The coyotes gave the little mixed flock of sheep, donkey and horse a wide circle and moved on across the road and the sheep went right back to grazing near the donkey and sidekick.

I am not sure I would want to attempt this arrangement in the dead of Winter or with smaller sheep but as a temporary thing for the next couple of weeks it seems to be working. I wasn't too thrilled about moving these ewes into a new area so close to the planned breeding move and shaking things up so close together but the coyote issue did leave me a bit worried.

Regardless I think I am going to start locking these ewes up at night once again. As the samll game gets scarce the coyotes will become more bold so better safe than sorry.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!


26 comments:

  1. FWIW - I know a fellow that raises goats out west of Weatherford, TX, claims that a donkey makes a very effective guardian for the herd.

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    1. Anon - I had read about keeping donkeys with sheep and goats a while back but the donkey we have is so old I didn't think she would be up to the job. She was used for halter breaking colts for so long I think she has arthritis in her neck bad. The vet comes and treats her every few months.

      Anyway I guess she did likes canines enough to at least put up bluff.

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  2. Llamas will as well. They'll kick the crap out of canines that they aren't raised with. If you ever run across someone just wanting to get rid of one, don't be afraid to take it.

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    1. Anon - Hmmm. Llamas used to be easy to find around here but I haven't seen any in years now. I bet the sheep would think they were just big sisters or something.

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  3. Here in southwest Florida where every predator is "protected" donkeys are worth their weight in gold. My nephews keep at least two with their herd of cattle all the time. They act as a tag team and when the panthers move thru (really western cougars imported by gov't to "save" FL Panthers ) the donkeys protect the herd. Bears, cougars, coyotes have all killed neighbors livestock and we are not allowed to kill them. Donkeys have been real saviors!!!!

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    1. You are not allowed to kill coyotes or any predator that is killing your livestock? Come out west where we practice SSS.

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    2. No kidding Tewshooz. Around here a land owner is allowed to pop any predator that is attacking livestock or even damaging property and crops. I have thought about thinning out the coyotes a couple of times here but they have never given me a reason. I think the coyotes here have had the survival instinct of staying away from livestock built into their gene pool over so many years.

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  4. Shepherds here use donkeys to protect their flocks, along with llamas and dogs. Up north from here a govt installed wolf pack took out a guard dog and her 3 pups and ewes and lambs as well. Your donkeys will protect your flock.

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    1. The wolf thing I read about up there is just stupid. Another sign of the enviro-freaks getting their way. We been having bear sighting around here recently and the conservation department had been denying there were any around until some guy took pictures. The pics even showed the state tag the bear had which shut em up.

      Amazing how these idiots are attempting to undo centuries of practical land grooming for no reason other than their uninformed fantasy daydreams.

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    2. We need to put a wolf pack in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Hotbed of enviros,.....that should be interesting to watch.

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  5. Better safe than sorry. I've heard Donkeys are great guard animals. Glad to read it's true.

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    1. Izzy - Well she is old enough I am not going to press her. Not sure she was protecting the flock as much as just doing what comes natural for her own survival but it was an interesting observation. Maybe after the horses are gone I will get a donkey team for a small wagon or something.

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    2. A donkey cart would give you "grid down" hauling ability. And supposedly Donkeys can get by on some pretty rough forage if they have to.

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    3. Ody - Yes but even then it is going to require X more forage per head. However I think Donkeys give the best energy in/energy out ratio.

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    4. Plus if you can get double duty as defense of other livestock it increases the net economic contribution of the animal.

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  6. As another poster said, get Llamas. We've used them for years. The sheep thrive with them and on two occasions they have killed stray dogs, one a rottweiler, that attacked the flock. They are mean mo fo s.

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    1. Anon - Sounds like good advice and if the coyotes do look like they might get aggressive or this old donkey finally passes on I certainly will look into it. A neighbor up the road had some a few years back and I know they were kinda mean when you got up next to their fence.

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  7. Is this you in this video. Funny all this talk about your donkey and then this video shows up...

    http://freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2014/10/i-guess-it-was-goats-night-off.html?m=1

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    1. Remember now....."you LOVE comments"....

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    2. OOOO A Troll. It's been a few weeks since I had a troll comment. The only thing I saw familiar about that video was the guy doing the donkey was also anonymous. You guys must be buds I suspect.

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  8. There is a small heard of sheep south of us that has a donkey. They have them in a large pen with farm equipment.

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    1. Rob - The sheep seem to just accept the donkey as one of their own. She isn't much bigger than some of them anyway. They were a little afraid of the horse but not the donkey.

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  9. How about alpacas? Arethey as protective as llamas?

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. I've read about donkeys being used this way as well. Nice to know there's some truth to it.

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