Donkeys can sometimes be used to protect chickens from predators however they are not the best protectors of chickens.
This is because most donkeys will not see regular chicken predators such as rats or hawks as a threat.
Sometimes miniature donkeys are preferable for guarding chickens because of their smaller stature.
Donkeys are better at guarding larger livestock like sheep and goats as they are able to fight off the larger predators.
If you have been wondering how to protect your chickens, this article will help explain why chickens need protection, if donkeys are good for them and what animals are best suited for guarding chickens.
Why Do Chickens Need Protection?
Chickens are vulnerable and easy prey for some predators like hawks, snakes, racoons and foxes that might easily make off with their chicks and eggs.
A mother hen can lose up to half of her chicks to hawks even while fiercely protecting them and as such farm owners have devised ways to ensure their chicken flock is adequately protected from predator attacks.
Chickens that are free to roam usually get the worst of predator attacks as they are exposed during both daylight and nighttime hours.
Different chicken predators include racoons, hawks, weasels, foxes, coyotes and bobcats to mention a few.
They all in one way or another eat either chickens, chicks or their eggs. Foxes and racoons are notorious for visiting chickens at night to eat them.
Most chicken owners build coops for them to protect them from these predators but there are usually cases where they are still able to get in and wreck havoc.
To effectively combat, the ‘know thy enemy’ battle tactic is very useful. Learning to recognize each predator’s attack mode will go a long way in helping you know what ways to protect your chickens the best.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on donkeys and a cross on their backs
Are Donkeys Good Protectors?
Donkeys are exceptional guard animals used to protect other livestock on the farm.
They are known for their ability to stand off and chase predators especially if they come as singles.
Donkeys are good protectors because they have an innate dislike for canines who sometimes want to take them as a tasty teat.
Some donkeys will even fight to the death to save their herd against an impossible number of predators.
Once donkeys have had time to bond with the livestock animals they regard them as family and will ensure they are well protected from dangerous animals.
Mammoth donkeys have a strong chance against more than one predator, however most standard donkeys can just deal with one predator at a time without getting severely injured.
Donkeys are good for livestock animals such as sheep, goats, horses and even other donkeys.
Donkeys will socialize more with their own kind and as such farm owners usually have one donkey to one herd of livestock so they don’t get distracted.
Not all donkeys are good for protecting livestock, males are overly aggressive and can even hurt the livestock they are meant to protect.
Some donkeys will simply run away when they encounter a threat.
What Animals Do Donkeys Keep Away?
Donkeys will serve as effective guards of livestock against predators. Donkeys usually have a better chance to chase off one coyote, fox, bear or dog.
Donkeys will keep foxes, bears, racoons, wolves, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, hedgehogs and other animals that might want to prey on livestock away from the farm.
It is necessary for donkeys to have been raised and bonded with the other livestock so as to feel protective towards them.
A donkey will not protect animals that it is not familiar with and will simply defend itself or run away.
Mammoth sized donkeys are best for guard duties as they are able to effectively attack one or more predators that might want to prey on a horse. A mammoth donkey is quite larger than standard sized ones.
A miniature donkey can also face off predators however it will be vulnerable and might easily get injured.
Some livestock farmers use them for guarding poultry and other small animals and they are trained to recognize poultry predators.
Also here is an article I wrote on do donkeys eat corn?
What Animals Guard Chickens?
Other than donkeys there are several animals that can keep your chickens safe and and are well suited to the task:
Dogs are a popular choice for protecting livestock and this extends to chickens too. Once a dog has been trained to protect the chickens, they will do their job even at night and can also serve to guard against other larger predators.
Some breeds of dogs are more suited to serving as guard dogs and buying these breeds will definitely enhance the farm protection.
- Guinea Fowls
Guinea fowls even though they are poultry flock too are capable of protecting other poultry flock. They will keep bugs from your farm and are excellent rodent killers. They can also protect your flock from quite a number of predators.
And the best part is when the guinea fowls detect a threat, they will make a loud racket that will alert you to an intruder presence.
Llamas, although quite gentle, can also be used to guard chickens as they have a deep rooted hatred for foxes which is a major predator of chicken.
The llamas are quite territorial and will charge at any threat they feel to themselves and the donkeys. For the llamas however, they don’t usually see birds of prey as threats and might guard well against those.
Other guard animals for chickens include roosters, geese, donkeys, alpacas to mention a few.
What Are Donkeys Afraid Of?
Donkeys are quite placid in nature and quite generally get along with other species especially livestock animals.
They don’t really have a fear of other animals as is noticed when they face a threat.
They prefer to stay and stare down the threat in a show of defiance. When they feel threatened, they will lash out with their feet and teeth to protect themselves as they cannot run very fast.
Donkeys have a strong dislike for canine animals probably evolved from thousands of years of being hunted.
A normally placid donkey will get aggressive when they come across a canine and they will not hesitate to attack back if they feel threatened.
This dislike has made them an excellent choice for livestock guard duty as they will not be spooked or panic unlike other animals.
Can Donkeys Cause Injury To Chickens?
Donkeys do not necessarily hurt chickens except if they are caught in the crossfire while protecting them.
Donkeys are normally placid creatures and farm owners are usually advised to use mini donkeys to protect their chickens as against the standard sized ones.
The donkeys are quite protective of any livestock they have been trained to protect. Female or gelded donkeys are the best types for donkey guard duty.
Male donkeys are reputed to get aggressive and might hurt the other livestock. If a jenny is used there are low chances of the donkeys hurting the chickens.
Can Miniature Donkeys Protect Chickens?
Miniature donkeys are quite small in size and can reach 36 inches at their maximum height.
This makes them pretty small and as such not exactly the best guardians for larger livestock.
The larger livestock will be attacked by larger predators which even though the brave mini donkey will try to chase off, might end up being injured or dead.
As such mini donkeys are more commonly used in protecting smaller animals that won’t grow larger than them thereby causing a problem.
Mini donkeys are more suited to protecting chickens than large donkeys as it minimizes the risk of the donkey inadvertently stepping on the chickens and hurting them.
By training the mini donkey to recognize chicken predators, the mini donkey will be able to serve the excellent purpose of protecting them.
Can Donkeys Protect Your Chickens From Hawks?
Donkeys are usually not the best suited guard animals for chickens.
The major reason is that donkeys will face dangers which they perceive as threats and for them some of the chicken predators do not appear as threats.
A donkey protecting the chickens might not specifically be able to protect them from hawks as it doesn’t see the bird as a threat.
If a mini donkey is to be used as a guard animal against predators, then it has to be trained to the specific animals that prey on chickens.
Once the mini donkey has learnt this, it will recognize the predator signs and will chase hawks away from the flock thereby protecting them.
Being a poultry farmer can be frustrating when you wake up to find your chickens dead and your eggs gone.
Apart from the loss of resources and investment, some farmers get quite attached to their flock.
It is important to be able to protect your chicken flock from any sort of predators and you can start by providing them with good housing which is well maintained and will definitely keep out the predators.
Getting a guard animal to keep them safe will also ensure you wake up to find your chickens safe and sound.