MIC McFarlane is hoping his latest trial won't make an ass out of him.
Donkeys are being used near Holbrook in NSW to try to control wild dogs, and Mic believes they could provide another tool to keep attacks down.
The idea came from the US, where donkeys are used to minimise coyote attacks.
Donkeys are also used in western Queensland for wild dog control and, thanks to Mic's enthusiasm, three are being tested on the Ardrossan stud farm near Holbrook. Stock on the property had been attacked in the past couple of months, an additional incentive to bring the donkeys in and start with the trial. The three female donkeys arrived last month and in the past week have been introduced to the sheep.
Mic, a ranger for the Livestock Health and Pest Authority, said the plan was to have just one donkey with each mob of sheep so that they bonded with the stock and not another donkey.
"We really think this does have potential," Mic said.
"It has worked with coyotes and they are only 4-5kg lighter than the wild dogs we have here."
Llamas have been used successfully in the Holbrook district to minimise wild dog attacks, but donkeys could be another option.
"If they are shown to work, then we will get wild donkeys down here, put them with a horse wrangler to quieten them down and then sell them to landholders," Mic said.
"Research shows us that jenny (female) donkeys are the best at stock protection, so we are going to trial those first, then maybe some geldings. I am hoping to get another 20 donkeys to add to the trial over the coming months."
The latest trial, which is a joint venture between the LHPA and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is expected to run for 18 months.
Mic is keen to stress that donkeys will not be the silver bullet for wild dog control.
"It's just another tool in the tool-box for control," Mic said.
"We need the (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) to continue their efforts and landholders too."