A donkey does not always evoke the most noble ideas in my mind. Instead, they are almost the comical animals on the barnyard scene. In some cases in movies they are the beast of burden that draws some smirks and chuckles.
When I think of a donkey braying, I probably smile and laugh with the general population. In the movie “Two Mules for Sister Sara” she rides a donkey. The poor animal looks overburdened yet holds up through the movie. That is a picture of comedy that most people have of this humble critter.
Yet, I learned something about this animal that I never knew in the past. The donkey is brave. You read correctly. This animal is courageous.
Ranching friends of mine told me with bravado that this animal was purposefully selected for their livestock collection. They are mixed in with horses and longhorn cattle. Can you guess what is their purpose?
No, it is not to give the rest of their livestock some daily levity in their lives of perpetual grazing. Nor is it to make the rest of the animals look good by comparison. The reason may surprise you.
In the woods of Texas there are dangers in the woods. Predators are always on the prowl for their next meal. They hunt together in packs and work in concert to bring down larger animals to fill their bellies and survive another day.
When a pack of coyotes venture into a pasture where horses and cattle are grazing they would normally launch their dastardly plan of stalk and kill. However, if donkeys are in the mix, the story takes a very different turn. They are the heroes of any attacks.
Horses get skittish and run. It does not take much to put fear in the heart of a thoroughbred. They have their purposes to be certain; however, fear of predators is a downside to these magnificent animals.
The donkeys are different. When danger threatens, they do not run away but they run toward the danger and face it and fight. When donkeys are present, they protect the other animals by driving the coyotes away. Is that not amazing?
If they are left alone, they naturally assume this role. They do not require any particular training, they just fill in that role. On a large ranch with surrounding woods, this is a very helpful piece of information to implement into the ranching strategy. Let’s hear it for the donkey, “Hee haw!”
photo credit: brucefong photography