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Livestock Guards- Llamas?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CityChicker, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. CityChicker

    CityChicker Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    We are moving all of our birds back to our farm and are looking for a livestock guard (in addition to all the normal caging precautions). Does anyone have experience with Llamas? That may very well be what we go with just to give our flock a little additional protection as I see them for free or next to nothing all the time. I have read some of the other old posts and Llamas seem like the best option for us based on what is available and affordable here.

    If we go this route, should we get one or two? males or females? intact or not? Any input would be appreciated. The barn where we are going to put the majority of the birds has a large corral on one side. The barn is accessed through large double doors from the corral (we are running hot wire all around the corral to allow the birds out during the day). The other end of the barn has another set of double doors that opens on to a pasture of about four acres that is done in barbed wire, although we are very likely going to build another corral on that side too. The llama could have access to one or both sides. There are a number of predators in the area, even up to and including black bears and cougars. The funny thing is though, we have seen less predation problems there than at our house in town! We still want to be very protected though, so will be keeping all our birds in the same completely closed cages we have done for years with great success (setting the cages/runs inside the corral and barn). The only area not completely covered would be the corral that we may allow some access to during the day and it will have several strands of hot wire. I haven't lost a single bird to predators in literally years and don't want to start now!

    Any advice on the llama(s)? TIA!

  2. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    Hey if you get good feedback about llamas let us all know. Could be a good excuse to get another animal LOL:p OR I have even a better idea! I could make it seem like I want a llama but would settle for more chickens [​IMG]
  3. Llamas are big animals, Alpacas are also GREAT guard dogs for your animals, and a couple of geldings would not only do that (they need to have a buddy, as they are really big time herd animals) but give you nice fleece for spinning yarn. They are smaller and much easier to handle, although Llama lovers on here would probably disagree with me. You can get geldings for just a few hundred and I mean FEW hundred dollars if that right now.
  4. JessieS

    JessieS Hatching

    Jul 21, 2010
    I'm going to go against the Llama supporters and say that using Llamas and Alpacas as flock guardians is like offering the predators a tasty snack before the main course. You mention black bears and cougars, both of which won't bat an eye at a camelid standing guard. If you have ANY issue with feral dogs, I would say no way no day. Other than their teeth and atttitude, llamas are essentially defenseless. No hooves, no claws.

    I know, I know, plenty of people have used them with success, and against a lone coyote or a single dog, they may be effective. However, I've born sad witness to what happens to Llamas when a pack of stray dogs takes them on, and it was heartbreaking. The pack hamstrung the llamas and then entertained themselves with tearing the llamas to pieces. Two died, the other three had to be euthanasia. I have known others with similar stories.

    We use Anatolian Shepherds to guard our sheep and chickens, and have yet to lose one to predation. They've stood down/run off bobcats, a cougar, and more free range Pit Bulls than I can shake a stick at.... including a pack of feral dogs that had just finished killing 4 llamas and 38 goats a half mile down the road from me.

    If you get one anyway, and you get a gelding, just get one. Otherwise you'll need to have his fighting teeth cut, as the two geldings can inflict a ton of damage on each other if they get sideways. Also, a lone one will be more likely to bond to whatever animals you have, whereas a pair are liable to hook up with each other and ignore the rest.
    1 person likes this.
  5. The Lisser

    The Lisser Songster

    I am a llama owner and I also volunteer with a llama rescue group. I have to agree with Jessie S. A good fence and a llama with guardian tendencies can DETER predators, but they are at risk to predators themselves. I have heard of a number of cases of llamas who were killed or severely injured by dogs/coy-dogs and coyotes. A llama, even an adult one, is a tasty snack for a black bear.

    I agree that a LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog) is the way to go. There are MANY rescue organizations for LGD's that can help with transport and placement, and can probably match you with a dog that has experience with your type of livestock. Or get one from a breeder that has been raised to guard your type of livestock.

    I have never heard of an alpaca being used as a guardian animal. I have seen them show alertness to animals like dogs, but IMO they are too small and not equipped to fight off a dog/coyote,etc. It would be like having a sheep for a guardian animal. A donkey would do a much better job.

  6. CityChicker

    CityChicker Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    Thank you all for the great input! I had thought about the donkey option, but they are way too expensive here. All of the ones I have seen lately have been in the $500 range and my husband would flip if I spent that on a donkey. On the other hand, I can get Llamas easily for free or next to nothing. I see people giving them away here at least twice a week. I had thought about the LGD option as well. The only reason I didn't go with that was again predominately the husband followed by the cost. I have found a few locally though. One breeder I located had a litter of Maremme's, but wanted $800 for one pup.

    At any rate, even if we get a Llama, I am not putting out there unprotected. We are still doing several strands of hot wire around the corral, in addition to two perimeter fences we have that circle the whole property and then the central few acres where the house and barns are. The funny thing is that we truly have not had a lot of predator issues up at the farm. At our house in town, we see foxes every single day. While we see predators as we are coming and going from the farm, we have never had issues with them getting in. For the longest time, we had Nigerian dwarf goats up there plus several birds and never lost any. My MIL then also dated a guy whose daughter kept her horse and some Alpacas up there and they never had any issues either. I am hoping that the addition of the hot wire will make it even safer. I will check into dog rescues as well and see what is out there.
  7. I guess I will represent the other side. I think a llama would be a good addition.

    If you have not had much trouble with predators- then it doesn't sound like you are in the predator alley of attack packs of animals.

    I LIVED in bear country (and a few cougars), we would see bears, but they would not enter our pastures were the llamas were. Granted maybe it was because we had over 150 llamas and alpacas at the time.
    But I have sold llamas to other in that area and they did not have trouble with bears killing the camelids (llamas & alpacas).

    I consider aggressive type dogs, cougars and wolves the biggest threat to camelids. Cougars with a good natural food supply USUALLY will not go after camelids. Yes there is the chance and I know people that have had a llama killed by cougars. But there is also a chance I could get killed in a car accident going to the store- but yet I go.

    Wolves are a whole another problem. We have wolves around us, but my best friend has about 50 llamas and lives in the center of wolf country. He has seen lots of wolves around his pens but in 15 years has not lost any to wolves yet. Even though his neighbors can not keep a dog tied out in the yard- cause in the morning after the wolves come in- all that is left is the collar and some hide.

    Aggressive type dogs are a problem anywhere. I won't single out the breeds- as I do not want to turn this into a discussion on dogs! Our farm at Neshkoro, WI even though it is almost 40 acres is in the city limits, so we deal with dogs frequently. We have llamas surrounding several of our other pens (deer, antelope, etc) to keep the dogs away.

    Now a few things I would consider-
    Llamas are a passive guard- meaning their larger size and alertness is a big part of guarding. When a stray dog or coyote would come up to a llamas pasture they will normally run towards it rather than away. Most dogs- (yes not all) will turn tail and leave.

    If you are using a llama with sheep, goats, cattle or other hoof stock: one llama is best, then it will bond with them.

    If you are using it for poultry- a couple llamas is best. As it should have another for company. The llamas do not exactly bond with the birds- but would be guarding their pasture which contains birds.

    I do not think alpacas make good guard animals- but an alpaca would make a good companion to the llama!

    Caturated males (geldings) or females are best as guards if you have other hoofstock (goats, sheep, etc) Intact breeding males could have interest in breeding the others so best to avoid that situation.

    Be selective in choosing a llama- paying for one that is handable is better than a free one that is unmanageable.

    Remember to study up on care, lots of people beleive you need to worm once a month for menigeal worm, but if it is not a problem in your area, worming that often builds resistance to the wormer.

    Also not all Livestock Guard Dogs work, and many will quit after a few years.

  8. Alabama ee

    Alabama ee Songster

    Feb 18, 2010
    I raised llamas at one time. I would not have them as guard animals. I had a neighbor's dog get in and attack 2 of them. Jumped up and grabbed their necks. There was a lot of blood, but they survived. (The owner later shot his dog.)

    Most llama do not make good guard animals. I did have one, just one, that was a reasonable guard. His main thing was to run at a dog. Seeing the flying rug come at them scared some dogs. However, he would not have done well against a dog or coyote that meant business .

    The best thing I have found is good fencing. That and a good guard dog. I think you might be better off getting a Great Pyrenees. I have several friends that have them . They do an excellent job guarding animals.
  9. CityChicker

    CityChicker Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    Thanks again everyone for all the great input. It seems like they get mixed reviews as guard animals. Really though, most of what I have read online has rated them very highly as livestock guards. I am going to pursue getting one to try. We have plenty of room and I have been interested in trying Llamas anyway for a number of years.

    As far as the predators in the area go, Spectrum Ranch, I am not really sure why we have had less problems at the farm. We definitely see them up there. We just don't see them messing with the livestock as much or trying to get in as much as in town. I would suspect it relates strongly to how readily available other food sources are. They must just be very well fed naturally. Our farm is one of only four off our road. There are two additional farms that border one side that are accessed from the next exit down. On the other sides though, we are bordered by nothing but mountains/forest. There are literally tens of thousands of acres between us and the next homes on the other side of the mountains. Anyway, we frequently see various predators up there (foxes, bears, raccoons, etc..), but they have seldom been much of a problem. Of course, we also have adequate caging.

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