Best Guard Animals for small herd?

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by JennyD, May 7, 2017.

  1. JennyD

    JennyD New Member

    2
    May 7, 2017
    Arroyo Grande, CA
    We recently moved to the central coast of California onto 5 acres. I'm sure that sounds tiny to alot of you but having moved form a 10,000 sf lot this feels huge to us. LOL!

    We've had hens for years and are now adding goats. Starting out will have 8 mini Nubians. They are intended to be pets and to keep the weeds. etc. in check. (easier than weed whacking and more fun!) Seven are young wethers 2-3 months old (no horns) and the 9th is a doling with horns. This breed is difficult to find where we live so we didn't want to pass up the opportunity to get a female when it was presented. The thought is somewhere down the line we will likely start doing dairy for ourselves and perhaps breed her.

    So, to the point of my post about guard animals. Yes, I know dogs are the bomb for most folks. I have always had an aversion to dogs of any kind so a LGD is simply not an option for us. We had been planning on a donkey(s) as a guard animal. Everywhere I read, it says something different so I'm hoping you can help with answers to these questions:

    1) One Donkey or Two? I hear they get lonesome and sad when alone but I also read that if there's more than one they will socialize with each other and ignore the goats. Which is correct?
    2) Gelding or Jenny? I know a Jack is out of the question but I'm not sure about which sex is preferable. Females go into heat and can get moody but I've also read that they have the mother instinct and may be more protective of the goats.
    3) Until I found this forum today, I'd not heard horror stories of donkeys injuring or killing goats! Would we be better off with a llama as a guard animal and if we go that route, do we get just one?
    Can anyone help with this?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
  2. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    My suggestion is that you evaluate what your worst predator pressure is before making that decision. No good choosing a guardian that won't be able to handle your particular predators.

    Whatever you decide upon has to be already used to protecting goats. Just like not all Great Pyrenees are effective guardians, neither are all donkeys, or all llamas.

    Last point, if you want to use your doe for dairy for yourself, you must breed her. There is no option for "...we will likely start doing dairy for ourselves and perhaps breed her..."

    Good luck with your evaluations. That really is the place to start.
     

  3. Dayna

    Dayna Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Pahoa Hawaii
  4. Jessica84

    Jessica84 Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2011
    California

    That's what happened to our neighbor. Donkey was fine for years and was awesome, she had quite a few dead dogs under her belt but one day she decided the calfs were killing the cows and killed them or kept them away from their mothers and they starved to death.
    I'm not sure I've ever heard a bad story of llamas turning on their herd, anyone???
    For me I have coyotes that are pretty much not a problem as long as they are in the fence, they respect it. We have had issues with dogs (those are the worse) but my hot fence had the one that tried to get in decide it wasn't worth that. So for me I don't have any guard animal I have hot fence and when I turn the does out I spray them with wolf pee and knock on wood no issues with my does. I did years ago have a problem with the coyotes and kids, they were just small enough they could grab them and run so no kids are allowed out side of their pen.
     
  5. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Llamas can kill who they are supposed to be guarding too.
     
  6. lottsagoats1

    lottsagoats1 Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Middle Maine
    And most larger predators can easily kill a Llama.

    My farm is 1 acre. I have had problems with dogs, coyotes and fox, but my worst predator was human. I have a Great Pyrenees and have not had a problem with any predator since.
     
  7. Goat_Scout

    Goat_Scout Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    Louisiana
    Congratulations on your (soon-to-be) goats! Mini-Nubians are very hard to find in our area as well. Last spring/summer I looked and looked for a Mini-Nubian doe or doeling, but couldn't find a tested one (I looked in some of our surrounding states too) so I just got a full-sized Nubian bottle doeling instead. :D Then a few months ago I saw an ad on FB that had a Mini-Nubian bottle doeling (she's in my profile pic) for sale! I jumped at the chance of course. I hope you enjoy your goats to the fullest!

    Regarding guardian animals - I haven't had a guard donkey (or any donkey for that matter), and so I don't know by experience whether they would be good or not. We have an Anatolian Shepherd dog to guard the goats and chickens, and she is amazing.
    Our friends at one point had a donkey to guard their cows/sheep I think, and it was good for a little while, but one day it turned on one of their ewes' twin lambs, grabbed it by the back of the neck, and shook it violently. If I remember correctly the lamb died. And the donkey also injured the lamb's twin, but it didn't die. I have heard many other "horror stories" like that about guardian donkeys turning on the animals they were protecting, and personally I wouldn't trust a donkey with my goats.
     
  8. Jessica84

    Jessica84 Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2011
    California

    I have no doubt they could I just haven't heard any stories of one doing it. I had heard A LOT about donkeys, and here and there on dogs. I have 3 people/ friends who tell me all the time I need a guard animal and for me not having really a issue with anything it's not worth the risk so I keep my hot fence up. Well I do have a alpaca but she is more like a scarecrow, she charges anything that comes close o the fence and looks freaky, but I have no doubt she wouldn't stand a chance against anything other then a house cat
     
  9. mcfadma

    mcfadma Clueless

    9
    Feb 14, 2017
    Tacoma, WA
    We had two donkeys (girls), we loved them but out of the blue they tried to kill 2 baby goats... so sad... it was crazy. The kids were ok except for an injured leg that healed fine. However I am still having nightmares about it!
     
  10. JennyD

    JennyD New Member

    2
    May 7, 2017
    Arroyo Grande, CA
    Thanks for all of your replies. I can't handle the idea of a dog at all and I'm afraid a LLama is just a bit too out there for me. We settled on a 7 year old breed Jenny. We will likely not have the goats and Donkey together for some time - let them get used to each other. Her current owner tells me she has a super sweet disposition. I guess the safest thing to do re: coyotes is to lock the goats up at night just like the hens.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  11. Goat_Scout

    Goat_Scout Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    Louisiana
    Great! :smile: Hope she does well for you!
     
  12. Dayna

    Dayna Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Pahoa Hawaii
  13. MoonShadow

    MoonShadow FancyDay Farm

    832
    Mar 1, 2015
    Good luck, let us know how it works out!! :)

    Runner pens for donkeys, in my opinion, are the best. A pen inside a pen, basically The goat's pen is inside the donkey pen so the donkey can't get in with the goats, but it can patrol the whole perimeter of the goat's pen without the risk of the donkey killing the goats(on purpose or accident).
     
  14. LibertysBoerGoatRanch

    LibertysBoerGoatRanch Active Member

    506
    Aug 26, 2016
    We recently rescued a donkey in hopes he will be out guardian one day. He was raised next door with sheep so once he is gelded we are confident he will do fine with the goats. But we are planning on rescuing his sibling,( not born yet, long story lol) once we do that we will probably have a set up like MoonShadow suggested just to be safe.
     
  15. Dayna

    Dayna Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Pahoa Hawaii
    mountain lions will kill or severely injure a donkey, just keep that in mind.

    Basically I consider it sacrificing one animal for another.
     
  16. Jessica84

    Jessica84 Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2011
    California

    That is a wonderful idea! That way they could do their job and never a chance of it harming the goats