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The Watchmen

At Eastern Plains Natural Foods, donkeys and yaks protect and serve.

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Eastern Plains Natural Foods’ free-range chickens have a backstory that sounds like something from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Owner Dallas Gilbert, who raises heritage breed chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys on two farms in the Bennett area, employs four guard donkeys (all rescue animals) and seven yaks to defend against predators such as coyotes, foxes, and stray dogs. “Donkeys are known for their predatory deterrence capabilities,” he says. “They don’t like canines, and they don’t bond with the chickens.” On one farm, the donkeys’ pasture area encircles that of the hens. On the other, Gilbert’s yaks freely graze the same land as the chickens, all the while keeping predators at bay. “The yaks stay out all night, and they have horns,” he says. Gilbert still occasionally loses chickens, but for the most part the sentinels do their part, ensuring that restaurants like Panzano, Old Major, and Butcher’s Bistro—along with Denver Botanic Gardens CSA members—receive their fair share of eggs each week. highplainsfood.org

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