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What Are Guard Llamas?

Most people are familiar with livestock guardian dog breeds protecting livestock, but did you know that llamas also serve as effective protectors of farm animals? With a male llama’s territorial instinct and a female’s maternal instinct, sheep farmers note their effectiveness against coyotes.

Introducing the guard llamas: primarily used in Australia and the United States, guard llamas are great livestock protectors as they have an innate aversion to small predators such as coyotes, foxes, and other canids. 

Can Guard Llamas Protect My Livestock?

The idea of a dog protecting a herd of sheep has long been familiar to us, with many dog breeds known for being livestock guardian dogs for sheep and other small farm animals. The Great Pyrenees, the Maremmas, and the Anatolian Shepherd dogs are only a few breeds of the guardian dogs. With that said, have you ever heard of guard llamas? (Source: Cornell University

Guard llamas are primarily used in agriculture to keep goats, chickens, sheep, and other livestock from harm, similar to guardian dogs. As llamas abhor small predators such as coyotes, foxes, and stray dogs, they’re well known for their herd-protecting characteristics.  

An effective guard llama must threaten predators when situated near the herd. In addition to that, it’s ideal that a guard llama requires minimal maintenance, care, and training, while effectively protecting the livestock against predation and not disrupting the herd. (Source: Pet Keen

One of the essential attributes a guard llama must have to ensure the herd’s protection is its relationship with the sheep, which a long-spanning integration process strengthens. In the past, experts recommended neutered male llamas, advising against using crias with their mothers, as they will not focus much on protecting the vulnerable livestock. But recent findings suggest that female llamas also make effective protectors due to their maternal instinct. (Source: Lost Creek Llamas)

Either females or gelded males can work as guardians. Gelded males are used more frequently because they are larger and less expensive. Male llamas weigh 300 pounds or more and stand 40 to 44 inches tall at the withers. Some owners report that a female llama can be more nurturing, especially if she has been used for breeding.

Jan Dohner, Mother Earth News

(Source: Mother Earth News

Where Are Guard Llamas Used?

In a research done in Iowa State University published in 1990, sheep farmers in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming shared their guard llama experiences. The study’s respondents described their guard llamas as effective or very effective. The farmers experienced a 7% decrease in their annual sheep loss when they integrated guard llamas, compared to the initial average of 21%. (Source: Pet MD

Currently, the United States and Australia utilize the most guard llamas to defend the herd of sheep against dingoes, coyotes, and other relatively small predators. (Source: Pet Keen)

Llamas have been used in the USA for guarding livestock from the early 1980s. They bond well with sheep and goats and are considered most effective against coyotes, foxes, and domestic dogs. Three United States studies have assessed the effectiveness of llamas in protecting sheep from predators, one based on field data and two based on farmer assessments.

David Jenkins, Guard Animals For Livestock Protection

(Source: Guard Animals For Livestock Prevention)

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