Last summer when four of my grandaughter's five 4-H sheep were killed by coyotes, I borrowed a llama from another sheep breeder who didn't need him during this period of time. Magically, no more loss of sheep. Now it's time for this particular gelded llama to return to his original owner, so we purchased another gelding to put in with our sheep and also to be our grandaughter's 4-H llama next year. The two year old llama we purchased had been used in a 4-H program, has had training, and is very handable, so whether he would have the personality for a guard animal was yet to be seen. After introducing him to the sheep, of which he had absolutely no fears, we were amazed to observe his immediate management skills. When the sheep are laying out in the pasture and he feels it's time to go in, he goes around and nudges each sheep, one by one, and gets them up. He then herds them to the barn, takes them inside, and then lays in the doorway. At a later time when he feels it's time to go out again for awhile, he gets all the sheep up and takes them back out to the pasture. He repeats these behaviors 4-5 times a day! He certainly has bonded quickly with his herd of sheep - now to see whether his presence will continue to deter coyotes.
We have raised sheep for many years and bought our 1st llama for a guard animal. Our 1st llama was a gelding about 4, very independent and almost a loner. Less than a year later we bought a younger male and paired to two up. They have worked great as a team. The younger one always takes the lambs to the barn and the independent guy charges the fence anytime a coyote comes down the fence line. We have found females to be just as protective over the years but we always leave them in at least pairs.
From our experience pairs is the way to go. I have a friend who has Anatolian Shepherds that live with her sheep and llamas and I have
witnessed the dog and llama working as a team to run stray dogs out of the fields.
"WORK ETHIC -------- Several years ago I sold a gelding to an out-of-state sheep breeder. Unlike all the other guard llamas I've sold, this one never appeared to bond with the sheep, choosing instead to keep his distance from the flock, even during lambing season. Even so, the breeder's annual losses to coyotes dropped from 20 percent to zero. This fall the breeder moved 80 ewes and the llama from a large summer pasture to a 14-acre field adjacent to the sheep barn. A few days later he called and told me the following story:
I asked the breeder if the llama was now staying close to the sheep.
Sharon Hubbard (in KS), Hunter Hill Llamas
"One llama I sold three years ago takes care of a blind horse that's in with 5 mares and another gelding. The owners of the horse were having problems with it getting hurt and bumping into the fencing and barn. Hagar the llama new what his job was from the start. He watches over the blind horse leads it to the others by letting the horse put his nose to his rear. He will do his alarm call if the horse is too near the ravine or any other danger. The horse seemed to know what the llama was there for. He's worked out well for these
"A friend who is a trapper told me that the coyote packs are made up of
juveniles that have been kicked out by mom when she has new pups. They have
to learn to hunt on their own. Mom won't help them anymore so they pack up
until they can hunt well enough to eat on their own.
There is a small herd of llamas near me that are with a flock of sheep. My
son saw the sheep being attacked by a pack of young coyotes and all the
llamas were chasing coyotes. But the youngsters were so aggressive, they
got a couple of the lambs despite the efforts of several llamas."
"Living in Indianapolis, I can tell you that this side of town seems to have
a severe problem with not only coyotes, but also coydogs (half coyote, half
dog). We have a few hundred acres of open hay fields around the llama
pastures, and on a daily basis we see coyotes crossing from one wooded area
to another, almost directly behind our house. We've had this coyote problem
for many years--before we got into llamas, the coyotes would come in to the
main barn at night and take all the chickens and other poultry (whose
remains we'd have to clean up the next morning). But, after getting our
first llama some 6 years ago, they've never veered near the llamas....or
even near the fence row for that matter." David Young
"I live in Montana and we always have lots of coyotes which run in packs.
The packs are very bold, and will even steal small livestock (small goats,
sheep, etc.) right off a front porch at night. However, with that said,
they are fairly timid about confronting a larger, aggressive animal such as
a guard llama--why work so hard for a meal when there's sure to be an
easier dinner elsewhere? Guard llamas have been pretty effective in this
area in reducing livestock losses, and even my small herd of woolies has
managed to make our local pack move on to other areas. Our neighbors with
pygmy goats and chickens tell us that they haven't seen a coyote around our
places for two years--and I never hear them calling nearby at night
anymore...So, I hope that this helps to put your mind at ease. A much
greater risk seems to be the dogs which owners allow to run loose--they
have no particular fear of humans or large livestock and will harass and
attack the llamas if given the opportunity."
"It is hard to believe, but it is true! The neighbors
called and they saw our llamas chase a big old black bear out of the pasture
yesterday. Our big 465 lb gelding, Fiddle Diddle, loves to chase dogs,
deer, coyotes,cats,etc....and anything that moves....and all 30 of the rest
of the herd run and jump and kick and join in the fun. I say it is
a real HOOT!!" Bob and Sylvia, Rockin' Fiddle Llama Ranch.
"We own a small flock of Jacob sheep and we keep our llama out there with
them We don't have natural preditors just irresponsible neighbors with
nasty dogs. Anyway our llama keeps even our cats out of the field! I have
never used donkeys but I've been told that they do tend to kill lambs. Good
luck." Tiar Black
-------------- Vicious Guard Llamas New Trend --------------
"We had one or two dogs get in with our llamas the day before yesterday. We were extremely lucky ! (We live in Ohio) I'll try to make a long story short...
I would also like to share that about a month ago I found a rabbit dead in the
girls field. It had obviously been stomped. I feel real lucky that none of our crias or goats where harmed !"
Brent & Kristy Huffman
Our very first real exposure to llamas was in the months after losing quite a few Jersey calves that were born during the
daytime out in the fields. In those days, sixteen years ago, the cows ran a 600 acre area of fields and woodland. An acquaintance who had llamas gave us a wonderful black and white (tux) intact male llama who was immediately
introduced to the cows and housed in the barn with them for a few weeks.
When we figured those cows were accustomed to the llama we let them all out. Well, the cows had seen the llama in the barn, but never in their pasture. When the llama came out the barn door, the cows stampeded in every direction, taking miles of fencing with them in the process of fleeing from that odd looking cow. Anyone who knows cows can probably relate to this scenario.
Not the brightest bulbs in the universe. After all the cows finally came home, there were no more stampedes, the llama hung out with the Jerseys and Holsteins and just became one of the herd. We were very impressed with the fact that there was never another calf lost after the llama came to stay. He was a fixture here for fifteen years and a really wonderful fellow. We never did geld him and he eventually died of old age here on the farm.
We also have a great elderly gelding who makes it his business to take over the care and training of all the male weanlings through yearlings. He breaks up fights, alerts them to pay attention when predators are spotted - or any oddity in his opinion. He teaches the young boys about manners and what to do, and when to do it. It is mostly because of this gelding that we have managed to turn our young males who are respectful, alert, and pasture wise. This gelding has NEVER allowed a strange dog into any field he
inhabits and protects his little boys from everything he considers a risk. I have watched him herd a couple of youngsters over to a sinkhole in one pasture and walk around it with them as if to say "This is a dangerous spot boys". And do you know that ALL the boys in his care steer clear of that small area of the pasture. Claudius (the gelding) also teaches these boys about fences. I have seen him jump over a fence that the young ones were poking their heads through and spit them away from the fence. None of
those boys ever tests fences after spending six months or so with Uncle Claudius. When the young ones get too close to a human at feeding time, Claudius gently inserts himself and pushes them back a respectful distance. Playing and wrestling are allowed in his pasture, but anything gets too rough and he lambastes whomever happens to be the aggressor. I LOVE this gelding and would never part with him. He is way to valuable to our training and management program. When he is in with the girls and their new babies he
is equally effective. Any sigh of trouble and he herds the babies into a cluster, then the girls into a ring around them - and then HE goes after whatever he perceives as the threat. I've seen him stomp coyotes and even give a couple of raccoons a rash of trouble before he chased them out. Good old boy, is Claudius...wish I had a dozen just like him. Could cloning be the answer??
We have a three year old gelding. Last summer he spent about three months guarding a small herd of goats at a Experiment station project on a Historical Society property not too far from us. We knew he had potential as a guard after an experience on our Ranch about three months prior to that. We had him in a pasture with a couple of yearlings, but I wanted to move
two 6 month old boys into the pasture for weaning. So, I put "Uncle" Chimayo in an adjacent pasture with one of the yearlings until I felt everyone was going to get along. I wasn't worried about "Uncle" Chimayo, but one of the yearlings was a little on the frisky side and I wanted him to get used to these little guys before they were all together. They were sharing a fence line so I felt I could see how it went. About a week after I had everyone split up, a neighbor that lives over the hill from us called and to say she had a friend with children visiting and wanted to know if they could all walk over to see the llamas. I said "sure", and went out to halter up a few for them to pet and go for a walk. When they came over the hill they had their dog with them......a
Weimerhiner. He had never been over to our place and I was a little nervous when he zipped down the hill and started barking at the first pasture he came to. He tried to get under the fence, but our fencing was critter proof on the bottom. After pacing and trying to figure out how to get over, he just simply climbed the wire and got into the pasture with "Uncle" Chimayo and the yearling. Of course this all happened in a heart beat and we
were all yelling at the dog and trying to get his attention, but he was "gone". The dogs owner was beside herself and I was too. I was running as fast as my chubby self could got to get up to the gate to get inside and "protect" my boys. So, was my neighbor........we arrived inside just as the dog had the two llamas cornered. Chimayo was in front of the yearling who was literally smashed into the fence corner. Chimayo was just standing there at an angle between the dog and the yearling. The dog was barking and coming in
close and Chimayo just stood there very alert, but not even looking at the dog. The dog ran in a couple of times very close, but Chimayo never moved a muscle. I was yelling and waving my arms and running towards them, but it was like I didn't even
exisit. The dog finally ran in under Chimayo and tried to bite at his belly. That's when Chimayo raised up and came down with this front feet and totally smashed this dog.........and he did it again and again. The dog was trying to get out from under him but everytime he got
up, Chimayo was on top of him. We finally grabbed the dog by the back feet and pulled him out from under Chimayo and Chimayo just stood there again. The dog had broken ribs, lost two toenails and had two major gashes on his head and a concussion. He
survived, but he's never been back. My neighbor was very upset that her dog did this and I was amazed that Chimayo did so much damage in such a short time. It was almost effortless on his part, but it was very scary.
We've placed quite a few guards.
I sold 10 guardian llamas between 1992 and 1996. All but one are
still with the same person I sold them to, and all are still guarding/tending. The following stories are about some of those llamas:
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