We repeatedly get donkeys to kill coyotes, and why are donkeys often seen around other livestock or ranches and farms. That is a good question, so let’s dig into it more and discuss donkeys’ uses around livestock.
Donkeys can kill coyotes. They are often are used as guard animals to protect other livestock from predators, including coyotes.
In one survey 59 percent of ranchers said they had used a donkey to help deter predators, and in Colorado, over 99% of the sheep producers said they had utilized donkeys to protect flocks of sheep.
How Do Donkeys Kill Coyotes?
If a coyote enters a donkey’s pasture, the first thing the donkey is likely to do is loudly bray to attempt to scare off the coyote and warn other livestock of the predator’s presence. Braying is a noise a donkey will make when they are excited, such as when they are happy to see someone or when they are alarmed or concerned.
If a coyote enters the pasture, donkeys will usually quickly run after them to chase them out.
If the coyote does not retreat and the donkey feels threatened, they will attack. They will use their teeth to bite the coyote, but the main defense mechanism is using their hooves to stomp and kick the coyote to death. Often to truly protect a pasture from coyotes and other predators, it will require several donkeys, a single donkey would not be effective against one or more coyotes, while having a half dozen or more will allow the donkey to protect each other and make coyotes think twice before trying to continue after other livestock.
Field and Stream has an article with pictures about “Buck the coyote hunting donkey“, the image shows Buck with a coyote in his mouth.
Will All Donkeys Kill Coyotes?
Not every donkey will be good at killing coyotes. Each donkey has its own personality; some are more aggressive than others and will be more aggressive when trying to repel coyotes.
What Donkey Is Best For Killing Coyotes?
If you are looking to purchase donkeys to guard livestock against predators, consider buying a jenny, or female donkey. They tend to be easier to handle for you as the trainer and gentler with other livestock but more aggressive with coyotes than other types of donkeys.
Jacks tend to be too aggressive towards other livestock, and therefore do not necessarily make good guard donkeys. However, if you plan to keep them in their own pen, they too are good at killing coyotes to protect your farm.
What Size of Donkey Works Best and Do Miniature Donkeys Keep Coyotes Away?
Donkeys come in four different sizes ranging from miniature to large. The best donkeys for protecting livestock from coyotes are:
- Small standard sized
- 36″ to 46″ at the withers
- Large standard sized
- For jennies: 48″ to 54″ at the wither
- For Jacks and geldings: 48″ to 56″ at the wither
Miniatures are not big enough to kill coyotes in most instances. Large mules are great at killing coyotes due to their size but are more difficult for you as the owner to handle. Miniature donkey’s will bray and help make additional noise, which may create enough noise to make coyotes think twice about pursuing livestock. Ideally, a mixture of miniature donkeys and full size would be best for a cost-effective solution.
What Age of Donkey Is Best?
Donkeys are most productive when they are 3 years old to 12 years old. Donkeys between these ages are more likely to kill a coyote than ones outside of this age range. Like other animals and even humans as donkeys age, they generally are not as mobile and/or aggressive. Older donkeys should be allowed a more relaxed lifestyle and not considered a “working” donkey.
How Many Guard Donkeys Should You Have?
Donkeys work best when they are working together to help protect each other; while a single donkey isn’t likely to be enough, having too many can cause other issues for the livestock they are meant to protect. Ideally, you should have more than one and increase that number as the area you are looking to protect increases and/or the volume of coyotes you have in the region grows.
How Many Animals Can One Donkey Protect?
Donkeys can protect livestock, such as:
There should be no more than 200 of the same animals in a pasture with a donkey. Any more will make them less effective.
Donkeys should be used in pastures that are wide open and not too large to ensure they can keep track of all the other livestock.
How To Raise A Guard Donkey
Donkeys that are intended to be raised to ward of coyotes should be introduced to the livestock they are intended to protect at a young age (from birth or point of weening). You should avoid their contact with herding dogs throughout their lives to make sure they don’t become comfortable around canines. Donkey’s naturally do not care for canines, so even if you have dogs around, they may not go anywhere near coyotes.
Feed the donkey the same time you feed the livestock they are protecting. This will make the donkey realize that being with the flock or herd will prevent them from ever missing a meal.
As the donkey ages to about 3 years old, introduce them to a dog in a corral to see if they show aggression towards the canine. This will help to ensure the donkey will actually do a good job guarding.
In summary, most donkeys are naturally aggressive against canines. They are more than capable of taking down a coyote on their own. I would not hesitate to use a donkey to guard livestock and they have many benefits including low costs of ownership, low maintenance, and a long lifespan, donkeys are a very popular guard animal to protect your other livestock from predators such as coyotes.