On Guard

A coyote doesn’t stand a chance with these guard donkeys on patrol.

By Richard Banks | Photos By Jamie Cole

Dede Garfrerick and Beatrice

Dede Garfrerick and Beatrice

Pictured here are Dede Garfrerick, a very nice lady who helps run a farm near Talladega, Ala., and Beatrice, who, quite frankly, is one bad ass.

Actually, Beatrice is nice too, at least around people and cattle. Not so much when it comes to canines. She and the rest of her squad of guard donkeys—Babe, Dolly and Penelope—have been known to even kick the family dog. Woe to the wily coyote coming too close or, worse yet, looking to feast on a calf, which the burros are there to protect.

Prior to getting the donkeys, “we had lost two or three calves to coyotes,” says Dave, Dede’s husband. He not only helps run the 200-acre cattle, timber and produce farm, he also runs his own restaurant, Garfrerick’s Cafe, in nearby Oxford, Ala. “We have not lost a single calf or cow to coyotes since the donkeys began to run with the herd.”

The donkeys and cattle seem to have an understanding, says Dave. They “are fine with each other. They sometimes keep to their own group, but they will also eat hay and graze side by side.”

While males aren’t recommended as guard donkeys, “female donkeys are very friendly with humans,” says Dede. “They like to be petted too. They will sometimes race to see who will be the first one to us when they see us coming from a distance.”

That’s the cue for the family dog to head back to the house.