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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Guardian Llamas: Pros and Cons

If you are unsure of which livestock guard animal to choose for your place, let’s take a look at the possibilities of a guard llama. Although either females or males can make a good guardian, gelded males are most commonly used because they are larger and less expensive than females and safer than intact males. In their natural environment, the dominant male llama guarded a small group of females and he was the primary defender against threats. Generally speaking, a male will be a better choice although a retired breeding female might also be a good prospective guardian. The llama’s size and maturity are very important factors in good working ability and predator control, so your guard llama should be at least 18 to 24 months old. Size is also the reason that alpacas, which are considerably smaller and lighter than llamas, are not used as livestock guards.

The llama guarding his flock. Photo by Paul Keleher.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of guard llamas? Would a llama be a better choice for your situation? Would you be more comfortable with a llama rather than a livestock guard dog?

Pros:

Head of llama. Photo by LlamaMilk

Cons:

Jan Dohner is the author of Livestock Guardians; Using Dogs, Donkeys and Llamas to Protect Your Herd, by Storey Publishing. She has over 30 years of experience with livestock guard dogs and wrote this book to help all owners and potential owners of livestock guardians to achieve greater success. She is also the author of The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds. You can find more on her blog Rare on the Farm and her author page at Mother Earth News.