Alpacas and Llamas are often kept to guard sheep and goats. Learn more about keeping Alpacas and Llamas to guard your farm livestock.
Not long ago a llama, or alpaca could command thousands of dollars at a sale in North America, now a knowledgeable buyer can pick one up for under $10. I have even seen people pay to have them taken away.
What was once suppose to be a bottomless market hit bottom, and today, although a few people do still raise them for fiber, one of the main uses of Alpacas, and Llamas, is to guard other livestock, such as sheep and goats. They work well for this purpose on small hobby farms.
Here are some tips if you are considering getting an Alpaca or Llama to guard your livestock.
- Get one that is friendly, and ideally halter trained.
- Get only one – that way it will stay with your livestock, if you get more than one they form their own herd and do their own thing.
- An intact male Alpaca, or Llama, can be mean to your other animals, a gelded male, or female will be much better.
- Get one with a low quality fleece, that way you do not have to worry about shearing it.
Above: Crystal with young ram lamb.
The differences between Alpacas and Llamas in terms of guarding:
- Alpacas are smaller and are not be as effective against predators.
- Alpacas are sometimes more nervous than Llamas.
How do Alpacas or Llamas Protect Sheep and Goats?
Being tall and alert it is easy for an Alpaca or Llama to see a predator approaching. They tend to be slightly more observant than sheep. When alerted to something new, or out of they usual, a curious Alpaca or Llama will typically approach the intruder. In the case of a coyote, who is not use to being approached in this way, they will usually turn and leave, a fox (more interested in your chickens than your sheep) might be equally confused. A single feral dog might turn and leave at this “threatening” move by your guard animal, who may simply only be curious.
By being observant, bold, and curious, the Alpaca, or Llama, often scares away the intruder. If the predator does get close the Alpaca or Llama may try to spit at it (they have foul smelling spit, more likely to deter a human than an hungry predator), or kick.
All in all they are a fair, to good, defense against the occasional predator, however if you want tougher protection you might also want to add a donkey to your herd.
Above: Crystal with Patsy (her favorite sheep), 2011
I have included pictures of my Llama, Crystal. She was very good friends with one of my Jacob sheep, named Patsy. Patsy had 2 lambs, and Crystal became buddies with them, particularly the ram lamb – but we were not keeping him (he was a half brother to some of the ewe lambs we were keeping) so when we sold him Crystal became really good friends his sister, whom we have also named Patsy (we sold her mother a few years ago).
Crystal does hang out with all the sheep, but her and Patsy seem particularly close.
My Wife’s Sheep Blog
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Article has been republished in part to Full of Knowledge.
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