Forest, wolves and donkeys
The donkeys Brauni, Knospe, Peppo, Flocke, Rosi and the two kids Lilly and Basil have a very important task at Rietzer Berg. Together with the sheep and goats they manage the forest. Without them, the neophyte black cherry (Prunus serotina) spreads unstoppably since it was introduced in the 17th century from North America to Europe because of its rapid growth for reforestation. What wasn't known then is that the black cherry is an invasive species that suppresses native plants and doesn't produce thick trunks as was hoped but a dense shrub layer instead. Its bitter twigs and leaves are not eaten by dear but fortunately our donkeys, sheep and goats feed on them. After our animals have successfully controlled the black cherry, we plant native plants such as oak, rowan and hazelnut.
Apart from this, the donkeys protect the sheep and goats from wolves. In contrast to horses, donkeys don't flee from canines like wolves, but protect themselves and their herd loudly against the attackers. This herding concept is not very widespread in Germany yet, but we experiment with it as our approach to handle the danger of the wolf. Up until now there haven't been any incidences since the donkeys are on the same pasture as the sheep and goats. Before that, we lost two sheep in a wolf attack when they weren't with the donkeys.