Rangemore Llama Farm
Home l Latest News  l What's Happening l Why Llamas

Guard Lamas

a New Zealander's perspective

           This page was created after an article appeared in the New Zealand, Rodney Times newspaper on Tuesday 31 July 2001 promoting camelids as guard animals.

"A single alpaca or llama makes a superb sheep flock guard against DOGS, says retired Red Beach businesswoman Margaretha Western."

       This is incorrect. It's common knowledge that DOGS generally hunt in packs.  The average single llama has little to no chance of defending itself against two DOGS, so how can it possibly defend a flock of sheep? As an alpaca is about 1/2 the size of a llama, how can it possibly be expected to fight off, let alone survive a DOG attack?

"I had a 28 month old, 260 lb llama killed by dogs in the middle of the
nite. They literally ran him to death.  Some (in my opinion very few) llamas will be aggressive towards dogs but most of them run for their lives as they are designed to do as prey animals.  Two dogs (considered a pack) are not intimidated at all even if the llama goes towards them.  They just work them from each side until they wear them down just as you see lions and tigers do on TV.  It is one of the most horrible things I have ever experienced and I would hope this does not happen to any other llama owner."
Glenda Steinke Mt Silcox Llamas mailto:silcoxllamas@olympus.net

"I was recently in California, where my friends live among sheep and other farmers," she says. "I noticed that among the sheep flocks there always seemed to be one llama or alpaca, and was told they won't let any dogs near the stock, and can kick a marauder to death." Margaretha Western

I checked with American friends as I hadn't ever heard of alpaca being used as guardians.

"Over 20 years of experience raising llamas and alpacas allows me to answer your question regarding their use as guardians.  In the USA, the main predator of llamas and alpacas is the domestic and/or feral dog.  I have never heard of an alpaca being used as a guard animal.  Most alpaca breeders that I know have either guard dogs or guard llamas......alpacas simply do NOT have the temperament to be a guardian. Their instincts are more sheep like and, therefore, are usually terrified of canines......unless, however, they are raised with dogs.  They do learn to accept their own dogs as do llamas. A llama, while a good guardian against coyotes and single dogs, does not stand a chance against two or more dogs.. As a final comment, using an alpaca as a guard animal is about as effective as using a ewe."
Wally White Columbine Llamas Durango, Colorado

"In view of the 54-odd Rodney smallholdings and farms which have suffered DOG attacks on stock in the past year....."

         How many of these 54 attacks were by lone DOGS?     Guardian Llamas are used in America primarily against coyotes which are smaller and hunt singly.    So until New Zealand has a wild coyote population, why create a problem by twisting the reality of Guardian Llamas as an excuse to sell single lamas.

"We use llamas for guards here in the States against coyotes as they do not hunt in packs.  But we are all aware that a pack of dogs most certainly will kill llamas.  The way we most usually handle dog problems is by the SSS rule.  Shot, shovel and shut up".
Martha, Back Achers bakacher@mesh.net Perrin, Texas

   Lamas are herd animals and condemning them to a solitary life, ill equipped to defend New Zealand's flocks from DOGS is nothing short of cruelty and neglect. I'm disappointed that these few thoughtless words could lead to the abuse of our camelid friends by giving the public perception that any lama regardless of breeding, training or species can fend off DOGS.

Julie Insley Rangemore Llama Farm

The full version of this misleading and inaccurate report follows with Letters to the Editor.

 

Rodney Times Tuesday 31 July 2001
WHILE LLAMAS WATCH THE FLOCK BY NIGHT.......
By Judith Williams

    An idea from a Rodney Times reader could get all those Waimauku, Helensville, Dairy Flat and Warkworth Alpaca breeders excited about extra income. A single alpaca or llama makes a superb sheep flock guard against dogs, says retired Red Beach businesswoman Margaretha Western.
       "I was recently in California, where my friends live among sheep and other farmers," she says. "I noticed that among the sheep flocks there always seemed to be one llama or alpaca, and was told they won't let any dogs near the stock, and can kick a marauder to death."
"Apparently," she says, "you only want one llama or alpaca in the flock, otherwise, if they have the company of their own species, they tend to walk off with their mates. Farmers and stockholders might like to try the idea here - it surely must be cheaper and will give them peace of mind."
          In view of the 54-odd Rodney smallholdings and farms which have suffered dog attacks on stock in the past year, according to district council animal control officer Olive Driscoll, this is an overseas idea which might work here.
        There must be enough herds established around Waimauku, Rodney's alpaca capital, alone, to supply 'watchdogs' for sheep flocks in the attack-prone parts of the district. And has anyone thought of using geese to warn off strangers and marauders? Unlike alpacas, a gaggle is as good as a gander, they weed the ground, cost nothing to feed and can be eaten when their 'watchdog' days are done.

Dear Editor,
Alpacas have no guarding ability whatsoever and have never been used for this purpose. It is true that llamas have been used in North America to try to prevent coyote attacks on sheep. Any success with this practice probably comes from the llama's instinct  to 'attack' what it sees as a possible predator. The experience of prey  running towards him rather than away, might unsettle a wary, wild animal. There are dozens of horrific examples of the fact that this behaviour will not deter renegade domestic dogs. Anyone who purchases a 'guard llama' will not be aquiring peace of mind, just another (expensive) piece of livestock to worry about.
Martin Evans Past President, Alpaca and Llama Association of New Zealand.

Neither alpacas nor llamas can be successfully used as guardians against dog attacks.  Additionally, both the alpaca and llama are very social animals and are highly dependent  upon social interaction of another alpaca/llama. They should never be farmed without the companionship of another alpaca/llama.
Dan Bloom Secretary/Treasurer Alpaca & Llama Association of New Zealand

Llamas are only effective guardians against SINGLE coyotes. If you do not have a coyote problem, they are useless and they ARE a prey animal. And alpacas should never be considered guardians.
Please read the info at
Castalia's Guard Llama Info these are TRUE stories of what has happened to people that believed inaccurate info such as you have printed.  I run an email list for aver 320 alpaca and llama owners around the world. I have a folder full of posts from people that have had their llamas and alpacas destroyed by dogs. They are the number 1 killer of camelids.
We have fought very hard to get the truth out. Please help correct the inaccuracies. Every study that has ever been done on *llamas* as guardians has been about SINGLE coyotes. Not dogs. And alpacas are barely larger than most sheep. Both llamas and alpacas are prey animals themselves. Please don't put people's sheep, goats and camelids at risk with such inaccurate information.
Chelle Rogers
mailto:castalia@rockisland.com Friday Harbor, WA, USA
Castalia Llamas

 

For more information phone 09 4077107 or

E-mail:   julie@llamas.co.nz

Thanks Penny for bringing this to my attention and thanks to all those who wrote to the Editor, they were inundated with emails and only printed a couple as they all had a similar theme "Lamas aren't effective dog control".

Copyright 1999 - 2008 Rangemore Llama Farm. All Rights Reserved