Guard Llama

Guard Llama


Llamas can be used as guards against coyote attacks on sheep herds. Studies have proven that just one guard llama is an effective protector and can even kill the attacking coyotes.


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A guard llama is a llama, guanaco, alpaca or hybrid that is used in farming to protect sheep, goats, hens or other livestock from coyotes, dogs, foxes, other predators. In the past, a single gelded (castrated) male was recommended. In more recent years it has been discovered that single, unbred females make better and safer guardians. They also do not pose the risk of attempting copulation (hence smothering) or chasing the smaller livestock.

Guard llamas may defend against predators in many ways. Llamas are instinctively alert and aware of their surroundings and may draw attention to an intruder by making a startling alarm call that sounds like a rusty hinge. They may walk or run toward an intruder, and chase or kick or spit at it. Others may stand apart from the group and watch the intruder. Although llamas have been known to kill predators (such as coyotes), they should not be considered attack animals. They are generally effective against single intruders only, not packs. Guard llamas have been most common on ranches located in the Western United States, where larger predators, such as the coyote, have been more prevalent. Not every llama will guard, however, and it should not be assumed that because it is a llama it will guard.

Research suggests the use of multiple guard llamas is not as effective as one. Multiple males tend to bond with one another, rather than with the livestock and may ignore the flock. A gelded male of two years of age instinctively bonds with its new charges and is very effective in preventing predation. Some llamas appear to bond more quickly to sheep or goats if they are introduced just prior to lambing. Many sheep and goat producers indicate a special bond quickly develops between lambs and their guard llama and the llama is particularly protective of the lambs.


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