— The Openherd Team

Summer Hill Farm

We love our animals!

Doug, Brooke, and Lindsay Betz
P.O. Box 696Penn Valley, CA 95946

August 01, 2018

Guard Llamas

Why Llamas? How To Choose One?

By: Lindsay Betz

Kassia with some Jacobs

Kassia with some Jacobs

Why Guard Llamas?
Llamas can guard a large number of animals by themselves.
Llamas can guard successfully for up to twenty-or-so years.
You may be able to use their fiber as well as that of your other animals.
Guard llamas do so instinctually, and without training.
They can potentially eliminate predator threats altogether.
Llamas are naturally suspicious of canines.
Llamas eat the same food as sheep, goats, and alpacas.

How They Guard
Again, llamas are naturally suspicious of canines, but they deter predators in general. A good guard llama has a variety of skills that allow them to protect livestock. Some of their tactics include charging or stomping a predator, herding the stock to safety, sounding an alarm, spitting, kicking, etc.

Choosing a Guard Llama
There is a lot of debate surrounding an ideal guard llama. The one thing people seem to agree on is that guard llamas are born, not trained. Some llamas are natural guards, some are not. They should be alert and curious about their surroundings, and protective of their flock or herd. They often work best alone to prevent being preoccupied with each other, but this is not an infallible rule. Nor is the suggestion that guards must be females. Gelded males are also common, and sometimes intact males. Because ewes in heat have the same scent as a llama in heat, intact males should not be kept with any female creatures. Some will say they should not be kept with males, either, because attempts at breeding happen and will crush their victim. In our experience, we have two intact males in with a flock of rams and wethers. We break a few theoretical rules, but they serve us well. We also have a grumpy female in with our ewes.

Our Guard Llamas
I have touched on the boys: two intact males guarding male sheep. We also have the grumpy female guarding the largest flock. We got her twelve years ago after losing three sheep to domestic dogs in a single night. The day we got her, all predator attacks ceased. The only large animal we have lost to a predator since was a pygmy goat who was in a different pasture, which we thought would be okay “for one night.” Never listen to yourself if you think they’ll be okay “for one night” or “for now.”

Get a guard llama!