Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Donkey Project....... Day 1

Welcome to a new era in my blogiverse, I have tried to be a good blogger and I usually end up doing a few random posts every few months but yesterday we picked up the 2 newest members of our farm and it's my little project so I am going to blog about it to keep a record of what goes on.
I am going to call it (please forgive my long winded story but the background is just as important).......

The Donkey Project......

It all started with an interview I heard part of on ABC Radio about 18 months ago, the lady was talking about using Donkeys as protection animals and weed control on farms.  I thought it sounded like a great idea and told my husband about it, he agreed it sounded like something we might try but that was about as far as it went.

My mother in law and I talked about it on and off over the next 8 or so months and I tired to get more information on getting a Donkey for our farm but I just couldn't seem to find the right information.

Enter Mic McFarlae from the Hume LHPA (Livestock, Health & Pest Authority, he decided to run a trail project in our area using Donkeys to protect sheep from wild dogs and foxes.

Now this may sound a little odd to alot of you out there... Why do sheep need protecting? What harm can wild dogs do, poor little foxes they are just so cute what harm can they possibly do??????

Lots of questions you may ask like this but to many sheep farmers these 2 pests can literally break your heart and put you out of business.  To many people their sheep are their livelihood and a Wild Dog can devastate a herd of full grown sheep in a matter of a few nights especially then when you have lambs around and they are your next generation of income and you cannot afford for them to be killed.

Foxes too may not be a large animal but they can kill many lambs and have a significant impact on a farmers livelihood.

Around 3 years ago we had our first Wild Dog attacks in our sheep, the first ever that we know of in the history of the family farm, it's not a pleasant thing to happen, the dogs are cruel and more often than not the sheep are left in a very horrible state that requires being put down.  Then the foxes are something we battle all the time especially at Lambing season.

There are many ways that farmers try to combat these 2 problems,  We are lucky to have some very good wild dog trappers in our area and a baiting program that we hope helps with foxes but it's not foolproof.

There are also things like Alpaca's, Llama's, Marema Dogs and then there are Donkeys.

All of these animals are used by farmers by putting them out with their sheep hers and they are supposed to bond with the herd and protect against predators.  There is success stories with all of the above animals being used with sheep but it seems that the humble donkey is the next big thing.

We were lucky to be offered 2 donkeys to have on our farm to be part of the project put together by the wonderful Mic who is a superman and very hands on when it comes to helping out the farmers in his area.

So without further ado please meet................
The kids chose the names, I have no idea where they got them from.

Flip - lighter colour on the left is a de-sexed male
Chip - darker colour on the right is a female who is going to be a mother soon.

They are super smart and they are going to be my project, I will be getting to know them and hopefully in a week or 2 they will be ready to go out into a herd of sheep after a gradual introduction to the herd.