Mules as guard animals? (for goats?)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have read that a donkey makes a good guard animal for goats. Would it also be possible that a mule would make a guard animal? Thanks.
-- Doug in KY (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2001
Doug, at Predator FAQ.com there are several pages devoted to "Guard Animals". This is an interesting and pretty complete paper. It talks about donkeys but not mules, so I am wondering if you contacted the author if there would be any info there. This is the address: http://members.home.net/18james/rural/predator.html Hope this helps. I found the information facinating. :-)
-- Little Quacker (email@example.com), June 20, 2001.
This is only a somewhat educated guess, so take it for that please. The 'guard instinct' is based on maternal / paternal instincts and seems to be most evident in animals with a natural herd or pack background. Since a mule is a sterile hybrid between a horse or pony and a donkey, those parental instincts would be lacking. If a mule had a bad experience with dogs it is possible they would 'attack' any stray dogs, but that could be problematic.
The other consideration is being certain You've a mule. Sometimes donkeys are referred to as mules and vice versa. Please don't take that as a put down, only a consideration. I've a degree in Equine Management and once mistook a pair of small mules for donkeys much to the amusement of my Amish neighbors! *grin*
Hope this helps.
-- Randle Gay (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2001.
I have heard some very bad things about using donkeys to guard goats. Seems all will be well for awhile and then one day the donkey stomps them all to death. The problem seems to be worst with males, whether they are intact or gelded, so if you still want to try it, get a female (a molly mule).
-- Rebekah (email@example.com), June 20, 2001.
Though they don't have goats (horses and calves), the mules, a matched pair keeps all the strays out of the pasture down our road. We are having a wonderful time with our two donkeys. One of ours is so aggressive about nothing being out in the pasture with them and the yearling goats, that I even have to watch my hens which will go out to eat the spilt grain! I think alot of the problems is that folks simply throw the stock together, we took nearly 6 months of them living fence line to fence line before introducing them slowly. I also think weanlings raised with the goats would do much better than using older stock. Problem with Jacks is that you can't geld them when they are young, so they grow up with attitude, yet my friends Jacks are the sweetest things around. To people anyway :) You also don't just pick up any old guardian dog and throw them in with your goats and see what happens, same goes for donkeys. Lots of nice stories about even horses protecting their goat companions, so I would love to hear how things work out for you! Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2001.
Well, I have 2 mini-mules, and I can't imagine any donkey being a better guard than the female. She will literally kill any animal that comes into her space unless she's been properly introduced.
-- Teresa in TN (email@example.com), June 20, 2001.
Teresa, a mini mule really couldn't take down some of the predators! -G-
I laughed when one of you said that some call a donkey a mule and vice versa. I've never heard that! To me, they don't look at all alike. But, I've raised both.
I wouldn't say a mule wouldn't guard, since some critters are more territorial than others. But when it comes to guarding, it's best to get a critter that's been trained for the job. Taking any ol' donkey/mule could be disasterous. They can run sheep/goats to death and also just plain maim/kill. 'Specially newborns.
There are breeders who raise guard donkeys. Standard donks are used, not Minis nor Mammoths. Jennys or geldings, not jacks. When weaned at about 6 months, the weanlings are put with stock ~ poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, etc. The weanling can not see/smell other donkeys and grows up with the stock.
Guard donkeys are left with the stock 24/7 and not used for any other purpose. If you take the donk out to use for another discipline, that's when a predator will strike.
-- ~Rogo -Texas- (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2001.
Glad my faux pas gave You a chuckle, Rogo. Up to that moment my Amish neighbors thought I knew something about horses.... *grin* I've been surprised at fairs, shows, etc. to hear people use donkey and mule interchangeably. Standing side by side it's easy to tell the difference.
Anyway, it's good to hear from someone with first hand knowledge!!
-- Randle Gay (email@example.com), June 23, 2001.