It isn’t odd for donkeys to be utilized as watch animals for goats and similar domestic animals. Donkeys tend to be quite territorial and are less likely to run from danger than a horse. Therefore, donkeys tend to be extremely useful at defending herds of animals.
However, donkeys can also be aggressive toward other herd animals. Because they are large and strong, serious injuries can occur—even by accident. Therefore, keeping donkeys with goats is always a bit of a gamble.
Can You Keep Donkeys and Goats Together?
Like many hooved animals, donkeys do pair bond with others and a donkey and a goat may get along just fine. However, accidents can still occur.
Furthermore, goats with large and pointed horns can also be troublesome. Some goats are more mindful of their horns than others. Still, accidents can occur, even if the goat is very gentle.
To keep a donkey with goats, a careful introduction is needed. Some donkeys don’t mind goats at all. However, others can be downright hostile and some goats may not like donkeys, either. Therefore, it depends a lot on the individual personalities of the animal. Donkeys in a neglectful situation may react violently to other animals and over-compete for resources. Keep in mind where your donkey comes from.
Furthermore, feeding can be complicated by keeping multiple species together. Donkeys and goats do not have the same nutritional needs, making feeding time complicated. Therefore, you may want to keep separate living and feeding areas, even if the animals live in the same pasture.
What Are Good Companions for a Donkey?
The best companion for a donkey is another donkey. Two donkeys have the same needs and socialization behaviors. Therefore, they are likely to get along best. However, there are many situations where another donkey may not be available. Luckily, donkeys do get along with other species. However, exactly how well they get along will depend on the specific animal.
Mules and hinnies are the second-best options for a donkey. As half-donkeys, these animals often get along better than most. They need similar food and grazing requirements, as well, making it easier to keep them together.
Horses can be kept with donkeys, too. However, it’s vital that you keep each species’ needs in mind. For instance, horses evolved to mostly eat grass, while donkeys are designed to consume a wider variety of plant matter (and require much more fiber). Donkeys are also very efficient eaters, making obesity more common.
Donkeys and horses also have different hooves, for instance. Horses are more likely to run from danger, while donkeys tend to have a “freeze” response instead. Therefore, donkeys are more likely to charge at danger than run away. (Often, this is mistaken as stubbornness.)
Donkeys and horses can form close bonds together. However, this isn’t always the case. You should introduce the animals first to ensure that everything goes well. Over-the-fence acclimation is best.
What is The Best Companion Animal for a Goat?
Goats are social creatures and require at least one companion to thrive. The best companion for a goat is another goat. As you’d imagine, goats evolved to live together so having two goats together often creates the fewest problems. Goats often pair bond readily with each other. Plus, both animals will have the same needs.
However, several other species also make good companion animals for goats. Cows are the second-best choice. They don’t share many common parasites, and each species has different grazing preferences. Therefore, there is less competition for food.
Horses are another good option, despite the size difference. Goats can eat invasive weeds and underbrush, while horses consume more grasses. They also carry different parasites, so they won’t infect each other.
Mules, hinnies, and donkeys are similar to horses. However, these animals also tend to browse instead of graze. Therefore, there can be more food competition.
Can Donkeys Protect Goats?
Donkeys may look similar to horses, but they are much different in many ways. One of these ways is their tendency to freeze and fight when up against danger. Unlike horses, donkeys don’t tend to run away when a predator appears.
Therefore, many small farmers keep donkeys as guard animals. These donkeys usually live with a herd of goats or other animals, protecting them from predators. Donkeys are sizable and strong, making them very effective at this job.
Donkeys won’t be bothered by all pests, however. Raccoons and birds will go unnoticed. However, they can be helpful against larger predators that dogs can’t usually handle. They may be a great option to protect against foxes, but they cannot handle larger predators like mountain lions.
Furthermore, donkeys may not alert you when there is an issue. Therefore, most farmers have a donkey and alert dogs.
It is best to introduce donkeys into your goat herd early if your intention is to use them as a protection animal. They can be territorial, which can make introducing them later difficult. However, there is a large individual difference that can also affect how well a donkey gets along with goats.
Will Donkeys Attack Goats?
There is always a possibility that a donkey will attack a goat—or even injure a goat accidentally. Donkeys are territorial. Therefore, they may attack other animals that are in their space. Different donkeys are more territorial than others.
Ungelded males are also driven by hormones. In an attempt to establish a mating area, they may be aggressive toward other animals. Jennies in heat can also find goats irritating and try to drive them away.
As you can see, there are several reasons a donkey may not get along with goats. Sometimes, there isn’t much you can do about this, which is why not all donkeys are cut out for goat herds. Therefore, it’s important to introduce animals slowly and carefully. Otherwise, you may end up with injuries or deaths—donkeys are much larger than a goat, which can cause serious issues.
Donkeys and goats can get along, and there are several benefits to having them in the same field. Donkeys are protective and territorial, allowing them to protect goats from some predators. They don’t carry the same parasites, helping limit transmission.
However, donkeys and goats don’t always get along. Some donkeys only like the company of other donkeys. When placed with goats, they may become aggressive. Temperaments can change at different times, especially for ungelded males. Furthermore, accidents can occur both ways. Goats with horns can potentially injure donkeys, and larger donkeys can easily trample your goats.
Featured Image Credit: Tommy Larey, Shutterstock