Donkeys Recruited to Defend Sheep from Wild Dogs in Perth

Talk about loud! Have you ever been in close proximity to a donkey braying? It packs a punch and carries quite a distance. Yes, they’re noisy but without them, we would not have succeeded in our advancement of civilization in the timeframe that we did.

Now, they can add another position to their resume, that of guard animal. Say what?!?!
Think about it. As loud as they are, they’d make a pretty good alarm system. Heck, if peacocks and geese can be enlisted to work security, why not donkeys? Apparently, sheep farmers in Perth, Australia, agree because they are using them to guard their flocks.

Photo: Pixabay/Atlantios

The loss of livestock can be pricey, and wild dogs had been a major problem for NSW farmer Butch Pilley, who had as many as 30 sheep killed in one night on his farm. That was three years ago, and not a single loss has been recorded on the property since he introduced two “trained donkeys” to work as guardian animals.

“The impact that the donkeys have had has been quite remarkable,” admitted Pilley.
Prior to that, the dogs had been slaughtering adult sheep and dozens of lambs on a regular basis. “One year, we lost around 250 lambs with a follow-on impact on ewes lambing in the following years,” he added. “So the cost could easily add up to $30,000, plus the stress of having to come down every morning and find your sheep dead or maimed.”.

Photo: Pixabay/suju-foto

Pilley and others in the area had incurred significant losses in livestock from wild dog attacks that resulted in economic, welfare, and even emotional costs. “You could come down to a paddock in the morning and find twenty to thirty sheep killed in one night,” Pilley stated. You can imagine how devastating it would be night after night or at least week after week. It would get old fast.

But then came a small miracle in the form of a trial sponsored by the Local Land Services (LLS) when they introduced trained donkeys to Hill End Sheep Farm, Pilley’s outfit, and the impact was seen and felt immediately.

Photo: Pixabay/walesjacqueline

“Since we’ve started, there have been no attacks from wild dogs on sheep with the donkeys in the mob … it’s been a great outcome,” said Paul Gibb, LLS’s biosecurity officer. “Donkeys are well-matched against a wild dog and can be quite aggressive.
They can strike at a dog with their feet and grab it with their mouths, so they’re very good defensive animals.”

If you’re a sheep farmer and you’re experiencing similar problems with loss, you might want to look into this deterrent method with one caveat: according to the LLS, while donkeys are well suited for the job, they need to be carefully bonded with livestock before ushering them out there to act as crime fighters.

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