Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Great Livestock Guardian Experiment - Part 3 - Sally the Llama (by Courtney McDonald)

This is the third and (hopefully) final installment in this series of guardian experiments.   
Just before Thanksgiving Eric and I borrowed four of Dan and Sami’s old wether goats to eat down the blackberries around the property.  These goats aren’t in too much danger of predation since they are so large and aggressive, but eventually Eric and I want to have our own sheep.  So we were in the market for a reliable guardian. 
Having done some research about llamas as guardians, Dan and I decided that getting one to put with the goats would be a good trial.  If the llama worked out, then we could employ her at vegetation management jobs where a barking dog wouldn’t be welcome.  So we got one and split the cost 50-50.  Her name is Sally. 

Sally was very shy at first, and did not like being led on a halter.  When she saw her new goat companions, she seemed as thrilled as you could imagine a llama being.  The thrill wore off a little, however, when the goats began butting her for no apparent reason.  Still, she seemed content enough in her new surroundings.  She soon learned that if she spit at the goats, they would keep their distance.  As of yet the goats are the only thing I have seen her spit at.  She has never spit at a person, and she absolutely LOVES kids.  Any new visitors and she will walk right up to them to smell their breath.  Apparently this is a llama’s way of checking you out.  Sally is very alert, and I think one of the reasons she is such a good guardian is because she is quite confrontational with anything – dog, predator or person – that she is not sure about.  Even though llamas are technically prey animals, they don’t act the same way as other animals when threatened.  I think this makes them seem like a more intimidating meal. 
We have had Sally for four months now, and have had zero predator problems.  At the moment, she is guarding our dairy ewe, Yola, another ewe named Rosie and her newborn twin lambs, and the goat boys.  I hear the coyotes almost every night, but so far they have stayed away - thanks to Sally.

1 comment:

  1. What are you going to call your farm Courtney!?! Thank you for having us out last week. I had such a blast meeting your amazing assortment of animals! I really hope you write more about your adventures :)