This watchful guard llama protects a flock of poultry from eagles and hawks.
PHOTO: DEAN BOYER
Having heard horror stories about losing chickens to predators, we were hesitant to let our newly acquired chickens range free in our open pasture. With a healthy population of eagles and hawks that frequently pass over, it was unclear to us how many chickens would survive. But the idea of happy, free-range chickens — with the resultant more nutritious eggs — was appealing, so we decided free-ranging was the only way to go.
Our initial strategy to deal with the threat of predators was to order a dozen chicks when all we really needed was six or eight. That way, even with some attrition by the eagles, we would still have plenty of eggs. What we had not considered was that our two llamas who share the pasture with the chickens might keep the predators away. They are well-known guard animals for livestock such as sheep, but would they protect the chickens? They did!
Almost two years later, all 12 chickens are thriving and have created the pleasant problem of providing more healthy eggs than we can use. Our local food bank always appreciates the occasional donation of a dozen free-range eggs, as do family, neighbors and friends.