Using Llamas and Alpacas and Guard Animals

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 25th Aug 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Farm Animals

Many farmers are now using Alpacas, or Llamas to guard their smaller livestock animals. Learn more about using Alpacas or Llamas as guard animals.

About Alpacas and Llamas

Did you know that alpacas and llamas are related to camels? Did you know that they are often used to guard sheep or goats?

Not long ago a llama, or alpaca would have sold for 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.

Although a few people do keep alpacas and llamas (mostly alpacas) for fleece and fiber, another popular use for them on the farm is to guard smaller animals, particularly sheep and goats.

Here are some tips if you are considering getting an Alpaca or Llama to guard your livestock.

*Buy 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.
*Buy an alpaca or llama with a low quality fleece, that way you do not have to worry about shearing it as often.

NOTE Both Llamas and Apacas can suffer from heat stroke if their fleece is too heavy and you live in a warm or hot climate.

Alpaca or Llama?

Alpacas are smaller and are not be as effective against predators.

Alpacas are sometimes more nervous than Llamas.

Between the two I find that the llama makes a better guard animal, while the alpaca would be better as a companion animal, or for guarding against smaller predators, such as foxes who might come to steal a chicken!

Alpacas are certainly the cuter of the two, but that is not important when it comes to guarding livestock.

How do Llamas and Alpacas Protect Livestock?

Since they are more curious that most livestock animals (other than the donkey), the llama or alpaca is less likely to run. When an animal runs it is seen as prey, and will be chased.

Being tall it is easier for an Alpaca or Llama to see a predator approaching. 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 might be equally confused. A single feral dog might turn and leave because of the “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.

Again - it is very important that you only have 1 Llama or 1 Alpaca, other wise they form their own herd and may not stick with your sheep!

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.

Links and Further Reading

Best Animals for a Hobby Farm

How to Care for Alpacas or Llamas on the Farm

My Wife's Sheep Blog

Become a Wikinut Writer, Get Paid to Write!

A similar article was published by me on Full of Knowledge.

Tags

Alpaca, Alpacas, Goat, Goats, Guard, Guarding, How To, Livestock, Llama, Llamas, Predator, Protect, Protection, Sheep

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know

Comments

author avatar Steve Kinsman
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Recently in our area some people who were raising a bunch of Alpacas fell upon hard times and abandoned a whole bunch of them. They were rescued and were then given away free to people. I had heard they are very expensive. You can get them for ten dollars? Really? Very interesting stuff Mark, as always.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Great article and pics. Bravo on your star. ;-)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Delicia Powers
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Fascinating, I would never have thought o them as gaurd animals, a very informative article, thank you Mark!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Denise O
25th Aug 2011 (#)

I am with Delicia on this one, who would of thought. You are my, learn something new everyday thingy. Great information on having a llama or alpacas for guarding your livestock. As always, thank you for sharing.:)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Buzz
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Thanks for the info, Mark. I guess a goose can qualify as a guard animal (against humans!) I know that from experience with a pair from my cousin's backyard.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Oh yes geese are good at guarding too!

As for the price, its usually unneutered males that are free.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
25th Aug 2011 (#)

yep - this deserves the star it received.
Aren't they just the most amazing animals?

Reply to this comment

author avatar Carol Kinsman
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Great article, Mark. We have a neighbor who raises goats and has 2 Llamas to guard them. One day they heard screaming in the pasture and the Llamas had the goats herded into a corner with a mountain lion at the opposite end. The Llamas screams were loud enough to scare the lion away. Llamas are very protective of their herd. Thanks for the interesting read...

Reply to this comment

author avatar Carol
25th Aug 2011 (#)

What a novel idea to use Llamas to guard. Our neighbour has geese to frighten intruders away, we just have our dog. Thanks Mark, and lovely pics too.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
26th Aug 2011 (#)

wow Carol that is amazing. I have never heard my llama scream, but she does hum when sad.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Carol Kinsman
27th Aug 2011 (#)

They had never heard them scream until that incident and they've never heard it since then.

Reply to this comment

author avatar James R. Coffey
26th Aug 2011 (#)

Interesting. I never would have thought of this.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Val Mills
27th Aug 2011 (#)

This was really interesting. Alpaca are bred here in NZ for their fleece mostly. They seem to have taken over from llamas.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Vernazoa
28th Aug 2011 (#)

Mark, You have a great talent to be informative, clear, and write about interesting topics. I hope to read more of your works or pleasure.
Love to you in all you do!

Reply to this comment

author avatar Songbird B
1st Sep 2011 (#)

A really informative page, Mark, and great picture too. I found this really interesting my friend, thanks for sharing...

Reply to this comment

author avatar Jack Wellman
4th Sep 2011 (#)

What a clever idea. We have a Llama farm not far from here and not once have any coyotes ever, ever had the nerve to approach the man's chickens or sheep. You're spot on the mark with this. Great work Mark. Thank you friend.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Username
Can't login?
Password