Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bye Jinx

It was just over a year ago that we got a donkey as a livestock guardian. We thought we were making a sensible choice. Some people use a dog, some use a llama, some a donkey, and some people just cross their fingers and secure their fences. Based on a variety of factors, we figured a donkey was the best choice for us.

As it turns out, it wasn't really a great choice after all. He never got over his goat aggression. We couldn't trust him with the most vulnerable ones, which were the ones he was meant to protect. Could we have worked harder with him? Could it have been made to work? Maybe. Was he just the wrong donkey for the job? That's a possibility too.

In the end, we just weren't in a very good position to make it work. Our lack of experience was certainly a factor. He wasn't happy with us, and we weren't happy with him. Our shelters were not really enough for him. Our pastures weren't that well suited to him. He was eating as much as four or five goats, and not able to do the job we got him for, and in fact caused a few injuries rather than preventing them.

So now we find out how good our fences really are, and how big a problem the coyotes really are. And Jinx gets to become part of a large herd of donkeys. And if we ever decide to go down that path again, we know where to go to pick one that will be ready for the job, and ready for our inexperience.

Sometimes when you get in over your head, it's best to just work through it. Other times, it's better to back up and try again. We opted for the latter. I think Jinx will be happier, and we'll be happier. The goats are happier already. They've been running around and locking horns all day.

See you later, Jinx old buddy.



At 6/27/2007 9:52 PM, Blogger EPM said...

Sorry to hear about your donkey experience. We too had a guard donkey to help chase the dogs out of our herd of cows. But it ended up that the donkey was afraid of dogs. Ugh.

I know several homesteaders who love livestock guard dogs such as Anatolian Shepherds and Great Pyrenees. They live with the herd of animals they are protecting - often sitting inside the herd looking out at the perimeter for danger. We have had both breeds and I highly recommend either. Pyrenees are know for wandering, which can be a problem if you have much automobile traffic to worry about. We currently have a Pyrenees and he is WONDERFUL with the children. Absolutely loves them and they love him.

At 6/27/2007 10:14 PM, Blogger Madcap said...

There's an anti-coyote breed that's popular in these parts called the Merrima (sp?) Great big white things, death on coyotes. So I hear. But I also hear they resent chickens and don't consider them residents on the farmstead. Our friend keeps them to protect her sheep and goats.

At 6/27/2007 10:21 PM, Blogger e4 said...

We've avoided the idea of a livestock guardian dog for a couple reasons... First, it wouldn't graze, which would mean another supply of food. Second, the um, waste problem. Herbivore poo is a lot better than omnivore poo in my book. Third, the chickens. And fourth, we'd like to get a pet dog at some point, which would leave us with one of those weird Pluto/Goofy situations where two dogs have completely different sets of rules and relationships. Opinions subject to change, of course...

At 6/28/2007 11:06 AM, Blogger Pea said...

If you get the donkey when it's young enough, and let it grow up with the goats it will work. It's also better to not get a male donkey. When they mature, they well, get cranky. My ex-boyfriend bought me a miniature donkey. I named him Sweet Pea. When he matured, he attacked the dogs and attacked all the calves at his parent's ranch. He needed a new home, too. My friend has four donkeys and they are great with her chickens and very loving with people. She is convinced it's because they have each other. You might try a young pair next time.

At 6/28/2007 12:16 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Thanks Pea. We did get him pretty young. But not young enough maybe. We'd also heard that it was better not to get more than one, so he would bond with the goats rather than another donkey.

We were offered a 2-for-1 trade of him for two jennies, but that would double the hay and pasture requirement, which would make it even less practical for us.

If we were keeping them for pleasure, it might be different. But we couldn't justify the added expense of feeding two donkeys just to protect our goats.

But that might work for others. There are a lot of situations where it does, so...

At 6/29/2007 6:51 PM, Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

you might well not need a guard anything.

May Jinx be much happier in his new home.


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