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Predator strategy - guard donkey

predator guard donkey

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#1 Foxhaven


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:17 PM

I have been nervous about mountain lions in our area.  My plan, to date, has been:

1) 6 ft. high electric fence - hardly a deterrent for a determined lion

2) Putting Legend and Luke up at night, turning them out after sunrise

3) Making neighbors aware of the horses, training them on bringing horses in in the event of emergency (plan on a 'horse warming' party including BBQ and KY Derby inspired drinks.... we live in a great rural neighborhood)

4) worrying every time I go to work.


4) doesn't seem like a plan.


So I started asking around, and dogs (not an option, we have 7 and that is quite enough - they are show dogs, not stable mates to the horses) and donkeys are a recurrent theme for upping the protection a bit.


As I have learned about donkeys (mostly from Long Hopes Rescue here in Colorado) it seems a jennet would be my best bet for protection, but not a great combination with a stallion and gelding mini pair!  A gelded jack is my only option, but I would need to find a proven guardian as they sometimes aren't as good.  The other downside is, even gelded jacks can play rough, which might be an injury risk for our mini horses.


What say ye?  Thoughts, experience with this?

-Lise and Bill Morgan
Evergreen, CO

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#2 Foxhaven


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:20 PM

Oh... and another advantage to a donk is, I would have a great companion for hunting wilderness.  Cannot even bring a wheeled cart into wilderness.  But that is just a side benefit, not the major consideration.

-Lise and Bill Morgan
Evergreen, CO

#3 Reignmaker Miniatures

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:53 PM

Well, I had a mini mule for a while and he was pretty darn good as a guardian. I don't know how he would have been with a cougar but he sure kept the stray dogs on their toes and way from my horses. The only problem was he preferred the saddle horses to the minis and would mope if they went to pasture and he was left up with the minis. Because of this little quirk I sold him when I sold the saddle horses. He did learn to tolerate our house hold dogs but if there is any chance of your dogs getting in with a donkey or mule you should be aware that often they will try to so them serious harm. I too have worried about the predators around here since minis are about the size of a deer and would seem like a good bet to most of the larger predators like cougar, wolves and coyotes. Still the worst trouble seems to be the dogs that run in packs and want to chase/harass the horses. We have a law that says we can shoot a dog to defend our livestock so (even tho I'm a terrible shot and hate the idea of killing even an undesirable animal)I let it be known thro the neighbourhood that I would shoot the dogs no questions asked if they were here. All of a sudden the dogs quite showing up.... don't know why. Other than that I keep the horses safe by stalling them at night and keeping them in dry lots close to the house if I have to go anywhere in the day. In summer they are on pasture for a few hours in the morning and get hay in the afternoon or if I have to leave I give the hay in the morning and put them out on pasture in the afternoon/early evening. So far it has worked for me - 10 years and counting.

#4 rabbitsfizz


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:06 PM

A Donkey would be no match for a Cougar, IMO, all it would do would be slow it down while it got eaten, which hardly seems fair.....

Oops, that will teach me not to hit post before I am ready!!

I would stick with the electric fence, add lights (you can set motion detectors to activate when the animal reaches a certain level, as in jumping up ) and put an "overhang" on the outside of the electric fence. I would also bring the boys in at night...

Edited by rabbitsfizz, 02 April 2013 - 02:09 PM.



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#5 Foxhaven


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:21 PM

Overhang, check.  @ 6' right now.  A motivated cat will spring over a 10' fence though.


Lights, yep, didn't mention it but it is part of the plan.  I was stunned when a trainer at a stable near here repeated a story about a cougar DIGGING INTO the stall of a neighbor's llama to get it. :nervous


Lights won't do much about a cat hunting in daylight though.  Rare, but observed (by the same trainer).  The stable is 4 miles from me as the crow flies.


Another idea from a neighbor who also lost a llama to a cat - have a talk radio station going at night.  Predators hear the human voices and become wary.


I also had misgivings about the donkey being a kind of decoy.  But wildlife officials will tell you that, when encountering a cat, to stand your ground and make yourself as big as you can and make a bunch of noise - NEVER run (triggers the prey drive).  All of this is exactly what a donkey will do - so while not a match for a cat, it might be enough to make the cat think twice about an easy lunch.


No idea what the horses would do, but running would probably come to the top of the list... exactly the WRONG thing to do.  With any luck, the donkey may embolden the horses.  And the trainer thought the stallion might be first to imitate him, by nature.

Edited by Foxhaven, 02 April 2013 - 02:25 PM.

-Lise and Bill Morgan
Evergreen, CO

#6 HGFarm


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:28 PM

I know someone who had a gelded donkey and he was even to rough to leave out with their grown boys... didnt work out at all.  You could try electric fence at the top and bottomish... and bring them in at night.

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#7 MountainWoman


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:41 PM

Are you talking about mini donkeys or full size donkeys?  A mini donkey (jack or jenny) is no match for a mountain lion.   I have mini donkeys and they are not helpful as guard animals at all.  My dominant mini mare chases more intruders out of the pasture while my donkeys are laid back.  I can't tell you about standard donkeys as I have no experience with them but because donkeys sometimes turn and kick if they are annoyed, I personally wouldn't put a standard donkey with a mini horse.


Donkeys also bond strongly to their own kind and really thrive with another donkey companion.   My donkeys do play fairly roughly with each other but because they have each other, they don't bother the horses at all.  


As to donkeys standing their ground, all I can say is each donkey is an individual and mine only stand their ground when you want them to do something they don't want to do. :yes


I've heard llamas make great pasture guardians so you might want to think about them if you have an appropriate set up.


I know how dangerous mountain lions can be and I can understand why you are worried.  I would be as well.

#8 Shari


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 05:22 PM

Place down the road when I lived in WA, had black faced scottish sheep. They had a full sized guard donkey.... Cougar ate it and ate and killed two sheep.


Cougar will pull down a donkey, llama.. or alpaca.   They are easy food.
Sure most of you will remember what happened to Ella, she was a B sized Donkey and I didn't get her to guard... but it didn't stop a Bobcat from laying her face open and clawing her hindend.

My Icelandic horse saved her.


Only way to sleep at night is put all the animals in a locked barn or build something like the 2 1/2 acre Night pasture we had in Oregon. 

8' tall fence on the small flat area, but every where else the fence was 9 to 10' to a predator....and in Oregon, we had lots of very aggressive and active predators.


This is when we first put it up, there was another wire put on the top.  It did keep the Black Bears, cougars, coyotes packs and Bobcats out of that pasture. Most that happened to it, a Black Bear slightly bent 

one of the T Posts.  Also had the heaviest hot wire and a predator rated charger.




And don't forget the gate... put sweeps and hot wire on it.  DH likes to sleep at night.



Edited by Shari, 02 April 2013 - 05:24 PM.

#9 Renee


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 05:46 PM

Wow! That is some fence!
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#10 Rhondaalaska


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:39 PM

What if as well as lights activated with motion you made loud sounds activate as well like a loud horn.
Cats are scared of loud noises.
A horse is an angel without wings.

Nothing moves me more than when on the way to fetching in my
mare in the morning than the sound of her neighing to me as I open
the gate.