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Howdy! I'm brand new here. I don't currently have a typical "homestead" property at the moment (just a tiny garden), but my family has been interested in producing our own food we're looking to buy a bigger property when we are financially able to do so within the next 2 years. Until then, I'm trying to learn all that I can until we eventually dive in.

We're interested in keeping milking goats, but we're concerned about predators. I've heard that donkeys make great guardians and the largest ones can be ridden/haul things, but that mammoth donkeys are rare and difficult to obtain. I would definitely prefer a multi-use animal, which we could use to cart bulky things around and/or ride, as well as using it to guard livestock. I've heard that mules are similar to donkeys in their guarding ability and also have the donkey-esque stability in personality and sense of self-preservation, which I would prefer in a riding/working partner, as opposed to a horse's "flightiness". And they're far more common than mammoth donkeys. Anyway, I just had a few questions regarding mules that I couldn't seem to find clear answers for.

- How much weight can a mule carry comfortably? How much can they safely pull? I heard they can carry 20% of their body weight, similar to donkeys, and pull twice their body weight, but not sure that's accurate/safe or not.

- At what age is a mule no longer fit to ride/carry? I would be considering getting an older mule, since I've never owned an equine before and would definitely not want to deal with an inexperienced animal when I have little experience myself. For reference, it wouldn't be used for heavy labor; more like leisure rides and carrying/pulling things for relatively short distances, for short periods of time

Also feel free to give me general tips/info. I'd love to learn as much as I can. Thanks in advance!
 

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My uncle Mick, (Walter) had a mule named Knot Head... They were best buddies... Knot Head was polite and not unfriendly to me, but not a best buddy... A few people, even when Mick introduced them to Knot Head, he would not tollerate at all.. Actually, Knot Head was a better judge of people than most people...
 

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A young donkey that had been raised with goats, "might" make a good guard animal. Your best bet for a guard animal would be an older jenny, (female) donkey. A mule on the other hand, raised with them or not is more likely to kill a goat than guard them. It is rare to find a mule that will tolerate smaller animals, goats, sheep, calves, dogs, or chickens. I don't know why, it's just the way they are.

As for carrying capacity. A mule that weighs 1000 pounds can carry 200 pounds all day long, with a good packsaddle and padding. When the US Army used pack mules, their standard load for a 1000 pound mule was 350 pounds. Packing a mule isn't like loading a truck or wagon, you have to know what you are doing. As for pulling, they can drag their own weight on a dray or sled. In a wagon or cart with wheels they can pull many times their own weight, depending on terrain and steepness of grade. I weigh 180 pounds, and my saddle weighs 60 pounds, before I put saddle bags, canteen, rifle, axe, coat and slicker on it. My mule who weighs 1100 or 1200 pounds can carry me at a trot all day long, over any terrain where he can keep his footing. The question would be more of what the rider can do, than the mule.

A mule that will ride, drive, and pack, is worth his weight in anything you care to trade. A mule that has been mistreated, or abused is as dangerous as a bear. He will wait, bide his time, and kill you graveyard dead.
 
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