[jump-links title=”Click to Skip Ahead”] Chicken Predators
Pros of a Donkey Guardian
Cons of a Donkey Guardian
Good Chicken Guardians

Donkeys and chickens are common farmyard animals, and they often cohabit peacefully. While they are unlikely to form strong bonds, donkeys can be territorial, so while they might not physically protect chickens, they will alert their owners and others if any predators or strangers enter the land.

Their hee haw carries a considerable distance, and it will grow in volume and frequency until a threat subsides. However, donkeys do not see all chicken predators as being threats so they may not make any noise if there are rats or birds of prey about. So, while donkeys do not specifically protect chickens, they can make good farmyard guardians, but not against all threats.


Chicken Predators

Chickens are a popular farmyard or small-holding addition. They yield eggs and they can also be reared for their meat. Depending on the species of chicken, they can also be quite friendly additions to the yard that will follow humans around. They can be inquisitive and are relatively easy to keep, once you have a little experience.

However, one aspect that you do need to consider when keeping chickens is the potential for predators. Chicken predators include not only coyotes and foxes, but also animals like rats, snakes, and even birds of prey. Threats come from the water, the air, and the land, which can make protecting chickens a difficult task. Having one or more animals to help guard them may be a sensible approach to chicken keeping.

fox in snow
Image Credit By: AlainAudet, Pixabay

Pros of a Donkey Guardian

Donkeys do have certain attributes that make them a good choice as guardians for chickens and other animals in the yard. They are territorial, so if they see any animals or anything they deem to be a threat enter their territory, they will become alarmed and alert. And, when a donkey is alarmed, they let out a loud hee haw noise that can be heard from a considerable distance. They may even attack the invading animal, and a donkey may do a very good job of fending off some animals.

A full-size donkey could get the upper hand over a fox (though not without risk), although miniature donkeys, which are less likely to injure the chickens themselves, may struggle with animals of this size. Donkeys can also be trained, at least to some extent, which means that you might be able to teach your donkey to look for certain animals and to let out a call when they spot them.

Cons of a Donkey Guardian

For all the benefits of a donkey guardian, there are also some reasons why the animal doesn’t make the best chicken guardian. They are heavy and they can cause a lot of damage to the chickens themselves. This is especially likely if they decide to try and fend off any uninvited guests and the chickens get caught in the crossfire.

If you don’t train a donkey to specifically see rats or hawks as a threat, they won’t naturally do so. These smaller predators do not pose a threat to the donkeys themselves, so they may simply ignore them.

Veterinary care for a donkey might also prove costly when compared to that of other species.


Good Chicken Guardians

Donkeys aren’t a viable option in all cases, but other animals can provide protection or act as alarms for your chicken population.

1. Dogs

a rottweiler dog walking on grass
Image Credit: Avis_Colors, Pixabay

Dogs are the most commonly used livestock guardians. They can be trained, will scare off most predators, and the breeds that are used in this way are intelligent enough to be easily trained for the task. The Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, and Komondor are good breeds to consider. They can also be trained to not harm your chickens. In addition, it’s relatively easy to find veterinary care for dogs.

2. Geese

Snow Geese
Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay

If you’ve come face to face with an angry goose, you will know that they can be as threatening as some dogs. Like donkeys, geese are territorial, so they protect the area rather than the chickens, but they do so with fervor. While they might not be able to fight off a coyote, they will make plenty of noise to alert you and they will spot hawks before alerting their chicken flock.

3. Wild Birds

crow eating
Image Credit: minka2507, Pixabay

Some wild birds, such as crows, are known to give hawks a run for their money, and while you can’t keep them as guardians, you can attract them to your yard where they will act as natural guardians. The issue with attracting crows is that they will eat chicks and chicken feed, so young chickens need to be kept in the coop or otherwise out of the way of local crows. The loss of chicken feed might also put a dent in your wallet in the long run.

Important: Do not attempt to lure crows near your yard on a whim, as it might be illegal to capture or relocate them.



Donkeys can make for somewhat useful chicken guardians and will guard your livestock by making a serious racket if they sense a threat. If you are considering getting donkeys as guardians, look at the smaller breeds because they will be less likely to cause accidental injury to your chickens, and if you don’t have room to keep donkeys or want an alternative solution, you can train dogs or even geese to help protect your yard inhabitants.

Featured Image Credit: Melody Mellinger, Shutterstock