A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 7, 2007

Gotta Love Those Llamas!

Filed under: Alpaca Care, Alpacas, guard llamas — alpacalady @ 6:34 am

Our Three Llamas On GuardI received a telephone call on Monday from a new alpaca owner who had several questions about looking after alpacas.  One of her questions was about the use of llamas as guards for alpacas.   Over the weekend a pack of six dogs had got in with this lady’s alpacas, fortunately the lady’s Yorkie dog had alerted her that something was not right (good job little Yorkie!) and when she went outside she discovered that her alpacas were about to become the subject of a dog attack.

Sadly domestic dogs are one of the main threats to alpacas in the US.  Sometimes the dogs are strays, sometimes they are neighbor dogs allowed to roam free, sometimes the dog involved is the trusted pet of the alpaca owner.  There are several steps an alpaca owner can take to protect their alpacas from the threat of domestic dogs, but for today I will focus on the use of guard llamas with alpacas.

We have three female guard llamas in with our female alpacas and have been very pleased with how our “llama ladies” have settled in with the herd and the role they play.  It has to be said even the best guard llama would have a hard time fending off a pack of six dogs, but I do know from our experience that our llamas have alerted us to the presence of strange dogs on our property giving us the chance to chase the dogs off before they get a chance to attack the alpacas.

Llamas are a great fit with an alpaca herd, relatives of the alpaca they eat the same diet and exhibit similar behaviour patterns to alpacas.  When we acquired our guard llamas I was not aware though that the bond the llamas make with their alpaca herd would mean that the llama ladies would alert us to much more than dog attacks.

One of the llamas “Maya” has a specific hum that she saves just to let us know that one of the alpaca girls is in labor.  On one occasion when we had an alpaca in labor the llamas paced up and down continually, they knew long before we did that the birth was a difficult one and would need the assistance of a veterinarian.  Another of the llamas “Inca” will come into milk when we have cria around.  Inca has never had a cria of her own, but she actively encourages the young cria to nurse from her.  Our third llama “Griffin” keeps us on our toes with her intelligence, she has even learned how to turn on the automatic waterers if we turn them off!

The llamas most definitely work as a team and if one or two are relaxing you can be assured that the other is actively watching and guarding.  If we have visitors and take them into the pasture the llamas will come up and check them out and then keep a close eye on them during their visit.  When I take the crias to be weighed they keep a pretty close eye on me too and I have often wondered what they would do if a stranger tried to remove a cria from the pasture, hopefully we will never have to find out.

We acquired our llamas through Southwest Llama Rescue  (SWLR) and highly recommend that anyone looking to acquire a llama contact this wonderful organization of volunteers.  The adoption process at Southwest Llama Rescue ensures that you are matched with llamas that will suit your needs and that you are mentored in your llama ownership by a SWLR volunteer.   By adopting llamas from SWLR you will be giving a good home to a llama and freeing up space in the SWLR system for another llama in need.  Check out the SWLR web site (http://www.southwestllamarescue.org/) for more information on SWLR, the work they perform and the llamas they have available for adoption.

When we adopted our llamas we never realised the joy and security they would bring us, now we would never be without them. 

Rosemary 

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