October 16, 2017
Dr. Laurie Cook is a veterinarian who has taken her love of learning and her love of animals and combined them to start a whitetail deer breeding operation with her husband Richard. They breed the species, raising does and bucks on their south Florida farm.
We caught up with Laurie just as she had finished an emergency operation at the vet clinic she works at. Being a veterinarian is her life’s work and she has spent the better part of her career caring for other’s animals, both large and small. About the time that her two sons went to college, Laurie sold her vet clinic to spend more time with her husband, following their passion for hunting. Those trips turned into an idea to start their own Whitetail Deer breeding farm. Richard says it was really Laurie’s idea and the couple took it and ran with it. BDRL Whitetail Paradise was born as they carefully laid out the pristine deer pens surrounding their house, designing them to ensure the deer they raised had the best and safest conditions possible.
As they began the farm operation, Laurie looked at the animal husbandry and health from the eye of a vet. She quickly learned that there wasn’t much available for the standards of care, preventative maintenance and ongoing health for the animals that she has such an affection for. So, she started keeping records as they grew their herd, collecting blood and stool samples and documenting her work.
Today, their operation has grown. They breed the does and raise the babies, carefully selecting which ones to keep in the herd and which ones they will sell to other breeding farms and various types of wildlife preserves. The couple is focused on the genetics and creating the best buck they can for their customers.
In addition to the farm being a source of income and something they love and have a passion for, Laurie has also taken the opportunity to spread her knowledge and experiences to others. She has started a mentorship program where young FFA members interested in a future in agriculture or veterinary science can come and get hands-on experience working with the deer on a real farm. She has also formed a close relationship with The Refuge Ranch, a rehabilitation center for women struggling with addiction, which also happens to be her neighbor. The women at the Ranch raise a large garden and are responsible for the maintenance of the sprawling rehab center property and now, have started their very own small deer farm. Their hope and goal are that the women who are a part of the program will find purpose and recover in caring for the delicate animals.
Touring the farm and watching Laurie feed the deer was a completely new and unique experience. Deer are considered alternative livestock and are unlike any animal I have ever been close to. They have a large “fright and flight” response. While some of Laurie’s deer have been bottle-fed and interacted with regularly, they are still a very timid and cautious animal. Laurie and her family take great care to ensure they are not under unnecessary stress, that the animals have optimal nutrition and are safe and comfortable. Being up close to these delicate yet strong creatures was pretty amazing.
Dr. Laurie Cook is an alternative type of FarmHer, just like the alternative type of livestock she gives so much to. She has found a way to weave together her strong work ethic with a love of animals and a desire to learn into a successful deer breeding operation and she hasn’t stopped there. She shares her knowledge and passion with those around her, spreading the joy from one FarmHer to the next.
October 21, 2017
Being a former client of Dr. Laurie Cook, I was sadden when she sold her practice for she is by far the best vet I have ever known. Her love of animals and her passion for her work is outstanding. I am so happy that she followed her dreams and has been successful at it. I do miss having the best vet around the corner from me, but she’s just a phone call away to answer any questions I have. You are an amazing vet who knows what she is doing.
December 07, 2017
November 27, 2017
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