Donkeys as guards
- The quiet docile donkey can become a fearsome aggressor – traits are seen mostly in the male Jack.
- They use their loud bray as defence weapon.
- Donkeys hate any small animals, especially dogs, and will chase them relentlessly in their paddock.
- This trait is used in Canada where donkeys run with sheep to ward off coyotes and even mountain lions.
- Donkey jacks are used in New Zealand to run with bulls to stop them from fighting.
- The jack will bite the neck of a full-grown Friesian bull or bite his testicles, breaking up the fight. One donkey can control 20-30 bulls.
- The jacks should be at least 2 years old and at least 10 (hh) before they are put on bull riot duty.
- The Donkey Society of New Zealand and the RNZSPCA do not encourage this practice. Invariably the donkey’s feet are neglected and they suffer founder from the high-quality pasture feed to fatten the bulls. This causes the animal great discomfort.
Donkeys as teachers
- Donkeys are sometimes used to teach other animals like calves or foals to lead.
- The donkey is fitted with a strong soft leather collar 1.4m long and 700mm wide with a large ring on it to fasten the pupil. The donkey wears a plain headstall.
- There must be a good chain 2.5m long with a swivel and a snap hook at each end to attach the pupil to the donkey. Over a period of days, with careful supervision, the pupil learns to follow the donkey as it is pulled along.
- Written by: Dr Clive Dalton