Guard llamas offer a viable, non-lethal alternative for reducing
predation, while requiring no
training and little care.
Coyote predation is a serious problem for the sheep industry. The
traditional approach to controlling
predator losses has been to trap and poison coyotes. During this study, 145 sheep
producers using guard llamas were interviewed to determine
characteristics of the guard llamas and husbandry practices. Some of
the results include:
introductions require only a few days or less for the sheep
and llama to adjust
to each other.
average ranch uses one gelded male llama pastured with 250 to
300 sheep in 250 to 300
and lamb losses averaged 26 head per year (11% of the flock)
before using guard
llamas and 8 head per year (1% of the flock) after.
than half of guard llama owners report 100 percent reduction
in predator losses.
are introduced to sheep and pastured with sheep under a
situations, few of which
affect the number of sheep lost to predators.
guard llamas are not as effective as one llama
report an average annual savings of $1,034 and 86% say they
would recommend guard llamas to others.
of sheep and easy maintenance are the two most commonly cited
encountered include aggressiveness and attempted breeding of
of flock, and sheep interference with llama feeding.
llamas are effective guards with high sheep producer
remain to be answered, guard llamas are a viable, non-lethal alternative
for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.
predation on sheep
no mistake about it: coyotes kill sheep. In fact, predation is a
leading cause of sheep mortality
and represents a serious problem for the sheep
industry. Sheep losses due to predation in
the United States were more than $83 million
in 1987, up from $72 million in 1986 and $69 million in 1985. The
1987 represent 5 percent of the total sheep population in the United
Lambs are particularly
vulnerable. Lamb losses from predation average 9 percent and
vary from 3 percent to 14 percent of the lambs. Sheep
are found in every state of the union, and losses due to predation
In Iowa, the state with
the largest number of sheep operations, intensive field studies
revealed that 41 percent of all sheep losses were from canine
predators (coyotes and dogs). Sheep
scientist Clair Terrill calculated economic losses due to
predation. In Texas, the state with the largest number of sheep,
predation was responsible for 14
percent to 69 percent of all sheep losses. Texas also led the
nation in economic loss due to predation on sheep ($12 million)
followed by California ($9
million), Wyoming ($7 million), Iowa ($6 million), Utah ($6
million), and Colorado ($5
For an industry
operating on a low profit margin, losses due to predation have resulted
not only in reduced revenue for the producer, but also in higher
by the consumer for meat and wool products. Predation is a real
problem with a major impact on the sheep industry.
Recently, the search for
a simple, non-lethal technique to prevent coyote predation
has led to the experimental and field use of guard animals. The
ideal guard animal should protect
sheep against coyote predation while requiring
minimal training, care, and maintenance.
It should stay with and not disrupt the flock,
and live long enough to be cost effective. A variety of guard
animals currently in use includes
dogs, donkeys, kangaroos, ostriches, and llamas. Of
these, guard dogs are by far the most
common. During the past decade and
a half, with the birth and growth of the llama
industry in North America, llamas were
occasionally pastured with sheep. To the surprise
of owners, they noticed fewer sheep were being lost to coyotes. As
the word spread, producers started
experimenting with guard llamas. Today, their use in
North America is on the increase, but guard llamas still number only
in the hundreds.
sheep losses decline?
obtained their guard llamas, they had been losing an average of 26
sheep per year to predation, or about 11 percent of their flocks.
After obtaining their llamas, the
producers' losses dropped significantly to an
average of 8 head per year, or about 1
percent; half of the producers had their losses
reduced to zero. Eighty percent of the producers rate their guard
llama's ability to reduce predation
losses of their sheep as "very effective" or "effective."
satisfaction, cost and savings
Nearly 80% of the sheep
producers reported that they are either "very satisfied"
or "satisfied" with their guard
llamas. Predator control and easy maintenance
are cited as the top benefits. Two-thirds
of the producers report no disadvantages
with their guard llamas, and 85 percent indicate they would
recommend guard llamas to others. Some
producers report no savings by having a guard llama, while one
purebred producer saves an average
of $20,000 per year. An average annual savings of
$1,034 was reported by 86
topics covered in the brochure
of llamas to sheep
llamas really work?
of guard llamas
||How and why
do llamas protect sheep?
vs. guard dogs
Llamas", is a 12 page study on the subject of "Do Guard
Llamas really work?", published by Iowa State University