I received this question from Karen via the website and thought it was possibly worth sharing my response:
We are in the process of buying a 7 month old jenny and have just had a sale fall through on a 3 year old. So we are quite keen to find another jenny so our new foal isn’t too lonely when she comes to us in a couple of weeks time. Can I ask what your thoughts are on having a single donkey as a flock guardian? Do you think she would be OK and bond with the sheep or do you think she should have another donkey? Information I have read tends to recommend only having one donkey when being used as a guardian, but my thoughts and most other information I have come across regarding donkey happiness and welfare strongly recommends a donkey having another donkey for company.
It’s very true that donkeys are very social animals and don’t like being on their own at all. They tend to bray more on their own than in pairs, and over the years I’ve had a number of customers who have been able to remedy the constant braying of their donks by procuring a new best friend for them in the form of a young donkey foal or gentle older jenny or gelding. (Older entire jacks can be problematic if they have enjoyed mating rituals in the past but that’s another story).
If there are no other donks around then they will usually bond with the next best fit – in your case, hopefully sheep! But also humans, if you have the time to spend. In terms of our own sheep, my donkeys don’t care so much about protecting the sheep as trampling down any dogs or foxes that go near them. Our donkeys even do this in a large herd context – they gang up together against the dogs – and I think they actually do a better job in a herd because I see mine all working together to tackle dogs in the paddock en masse, while some hang back with the sheep. So I certainly think the benefits of your donkey having a companion would outweigh any disadvantages.
In terms of the young foal you are getting, I wouldn’t recommend putting a young 7 month old foal out in a paddock on her own without another donkey at that age, but since your other Jenny has fallen through I guess you don’t have much choice. Only advice I can suggest would be to keep her in close reach to the house and check on her daily, until she’s at least a year old and settled into her new environment. Hopefully by then she’ll have the confidence and bravado to be out on her own and on guard with your sheep.
Hope this helps!