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In looking for a donkey guardian beware of the person who advertises "Weanling miniature donkey jack-good for sheep guard", or who tells you "just let this jack grow up with your sheep/goats/cows, etc." or "any donkey will do the job" or "get a jennet then you can have a foal every year."
For starters, "JACK DONKEY" and "GUARD" should never, ever be in the sentence. There are many nice Jacks out there who may never do one wrong thing but do you want to take the chance? Intact jacks are for breeding, not for pets, not for guards. That ol' testosterone can turn Dr. Jeckell into Mr. Hyde in a hurry with disastrous and heart-breaking results. NO JACKS ALLOWED ON GUARD DUTY!
Next, lets look at those weanlings, of any size. Would you let your 3 year old baby-sit your 2 year old? Of course not! You cannot expect a weanling, a baby, to take on the responsibility of a flock guardian. There are several outcomes to this scenario. Your "guard baby" can just as easily be killed by whatever is preying on your flocks as what he is supposed to be guarding. Your "guard baby" can easily be hurt or intimidated by an aggressive ram/ewe/doe etc. Especially if they are horned. Your "guard baby" needs to play. Donkey play is much too rough for sheep and goats or even calves. This is where some of that misinformation starts. Things like "Donkeys will kill your lambs, kids, etc. by ripping their necks off." Donkeys play by grabbing necks and walking each other around. Not appropriate and sometimes fatal treatment for kids and lambs. Your "guard baby" is not really on duty so your flock is still in jeopardy from whatever predator started you looking for a donkey in the first place. By 3 years of age, all of the play and silliness is over and a donkey is usually sensible enough to go to work.
Resist the urge to get a jennet just so you can get a foal every year or so. Some people say jennets don't make good guards. I don't find that to be so. Some of the best, most reliable and aggressive guard donkeys I have sold have been jennets. But, guard is all they do. Don't be greedy. In breeding your guard jennet you possibly will lose a lot more than you gain.
Now that we have covered all of the "do-nots", lets start on the positive side. No, not all donkeys guard, but most donkeys will guard. You are taking advantage of two basic donkey traits. One, his or her need to be part of a herd, and two, his or her natural dislike of canines. Out of all of the donkeys we have TRAINED in a guard capacity, only one failed goat guarding school. He was fine in the field with the goats but went ballistic when closed up in the barn with them. All of our guards are sold with a written money back 30 day guarantee. If the purchaser is unhappy with the donkey or it doesn't do its job, we, at the end of the month, will pick up the animal.
NOTE: In the rest of the article, Leslie explains EXACTLY HOW to train a donkey to be a guardian. Itís not as difficult as you may think but it does require some uncomplicated training!
Have more questions? Feel free to email me (see bottom of this page) and I'll be happy to share my many years of experience with donkeys.
Copyright 2006 Miniature Donkey Talk Magazine, Inc.
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