By Eric Shackle
Donkeys guard sheep from predators
- More and more farmers in Australia and North America are using
donkeys to protect their livestock against predators. In Australia, the
villains are dingoes, wild dogs and foxes, which attack sheep, calves
and poultry. In America, coyotes, aka the American jackal, brush wolf,
or prairie wolf, are the farmers’ enemy.
- Ironically, coyotes are protected in 12 US states, and hunting is regulated in most of North America.
- “Darling Downs grazier Bruce McLeish and his wife Angela turned
to ‘guard donkeys’ after losing 300 sheep worth $110,000, to wild dogs
in 2007” says a story on an ABC website.
- “As well as shooting, trapping and baiting the dogs, the
McLeishes – who run 4500 sheep on Warahgai, near Karara, in the traprock
country west of Warwick – got the donkey idea after hearing about a
Toowoomba woman who ran free-range poultry with a donkey and found a fox
which had been kicked to death.”
- “The latest weapon in the war against wild dogs is not bullets
or bait, but floppy ears and a deafening call,” Karen Hunt wrote in an
ABC website four years ago.
- “Guard donkeys are being used successfully in southern
Queensland to guard sheep against attack from rapidly increasing numbers
of wild dogs. In some cases losses from dog attacks have been so severe
station owners have been forced to sell all their remaining sheep and
switch to cattle.
- “Warwick station owner Bruce McLeish says he discovered guard
donkeys were commonly used in the US for protecting livestock, but it
was the hardiness of the animals which finally persuaded him to try them
out. ‘The donkeys eat the same as sheep, are easy on fences, and if
you’re in harder country like we are, you don’t have to do anything with
their hooves, and they naturally live in the desert.
- ‘’’The donkey is a very inquisitive animal; and they naturally
live in the desert so they are very hardy, even in our droughts.’
- “Although donkeys were initially hard to source, once released
with the sheep, Mr McLeish says their natural instincts took over.
- “’The couple we’ve got are bonded with sheep. If anything goes
into the paddock, they go out to the edge of the mob. If it’s something
like a dog they will actually chase after them, trying to bite and
- Graziers in Australia, the US, and western Canada have
successfully used donkeys as guard animals. The Ontario Predator Study
reported that about 70% of the donkeys used were either excellent or
good at protecting sheep from wolves, coyotes and dogs.