Livestock guardians


"A male gelding llama will guard livestock
sheep, goats, free-range poultry etc
by his own natural protective instinct..."

Two young llamas chase a fox

Two Iowa State University studies of 337 farms show llamas producing a stunning success rate as livestock protectors:

goat herds - 89%  :  poultry - 92%  :  sheep flocks - 93% 
cattle herds - 100%

wpeF.jpg (10125 bytes)
We supplied our first guard llama to a farmer in Kent who had been losing 35-40 lambs in previous lambing seasons.

Subsequently, w
ith our guard llama in place, he lost none

He liked his llama so much that he returned to us to buy a female for him (happily, he was not yet castrated). Then as a pair is likely to be less efficient than a single llama as a flock guardian, he returned to buy yet another (this time gelded) male to become his flock guardian!

 RoseLand Llamas
were featured on UK National Television, 
both on Channel 5 News and on Channel 4's "Absolutely Animals",
showing them at work guarding livestock.

Both programmes recommended llamas
as the best option for keeping predators at bay.

An appropriately selected male gelding llama
will guard field stock
 - sheep, goats, free-range poultry etc -
by his own natural protective instinct...

He needs no special training.
He requires no special fencing.
He can be expected to work effectively for around 10 - 12 years.
He eats the same food as sheep or goats (but on a weight basis, only about 2/3 as much).
He can be left with the animals at all times without extra attention
Despite his role as protector, he will live harmoniously with farm dogs and other farm stock.
He can be used to carry bales, implements etc...
He can be sheared alongside sheep, offering a quantity of luxury fibre.
He requires no extra or special veterinary attention.
He does not require dipping.
He offers an extremely economic and practical solution against predation losses.

Although a llama does not need special training for his work as a flock guardian, it is all the more important that the llama used for the work is carefully selected.

Imagine any litter of puppies, be they retrievers, sheep dogs, guard dogs, racing dogs, whatever. In the litter, one may be too nervous, another too lazy, and another too dim... too friendly... too aggressive! From each litter the experienced breeder can usually work out which will be best suited for the purpose of the breed or as show dogs, pets etc. 

Equally with any group of llamas, different temperaments and behavioural traits will suggest to the experienced breeder which are better suited as field pets, or fibre producers, trekkers or… guard llamas! In this context it is important to note that the appropriate attributes of a guard llama do not include aggressiveness (whether to people or other non-predatory animals).The most successful guard llama should be a well socialised animal, accepting of humans, farm livestock , children and pets...

Iowa State University Research


Llamas have been used successfully for many years in the USA to protect livestock from predators including wild dogs, foxes, coyotes and even bears...

Extensive research at Iowa State University (Iowa has the largest concentration of sheep farms in the US) confirmed the great value that llamas have in this area.

Two  Studies have been undertaken at the University.

The first was completed in 1997 and the most recent was published in February 2000.

The conclusions of these studies are shown on the right.

Sheep predation losses in the U.S exceeded $83m in 1987; more than 5% of the total sheep population.
Lamb losses averaged 9%.
As a result, guard llamas now run with sheep in nearly ever State.
201 flocks were studied where predation was exceptionally high, losing over 20% of the flocks.
Nearly all the llamas had no prior experience with sheep and none had been trained to guard them.
Farmers taking part in the survey reported a drop in predatory losses from an average of 21% to 7% and half of them reported losses down to 0%.
Many reported that guard llamas show a strong attachment to lambs. Although not fully understood, the  pasture becomes the llama's territory and the flock his family group.

The second study confirms that llamas are a highly
successful and economic, non-lethal, method of reducing predation among farm livestock.

A further 136 farms were studies where llama guards were kept with goats, poultry and cattle.

Among goat herds 89% success was reported

On poultry farms 92% success was achieved

Among cattle herds success was 100%.

The use of guard llamas resulted in an average annual saving per farm of £530 for goat owners, £729 for poultry owners, and £1568 for cattle owners.

Charlie and the chicken
(photo courtesy of UKLlamas trekking centre)

            Llama Guarding Questions…

"Why will a llama guard my livestock?"  

It is the natural instinct of the male llama to guard his "group". Experience and research have proved that when removed from his own kind and placed with certain other types of livestock, the llama will continue in this role.

"How will he guard my livestock?"
In the event of an animal worrying his flock, the llama will lower his long neck and … charge at it, chasing it away. If it lingers he will stamp his feet down aggressively at the attacker. He will not, however, be "hell-bent" on killing it, only driving it away.
"But won't he then chase my dogs or my children?" No: An appropriate guard llama is not an aggressive llama or a mean animal. His temperament should be similar to that of a "field pet" llama but have extra qualities that make him a suitable flock guardian.
Generally llamas live very happily with dogs and any other animals that are introduced to them properly.
Our own children play in our paddocks even where there are entire male and stud llamas present.
"Can I be sure it will work?" Unfortunately there is no absolute panacea and there can be no concrete guarantees…  Using a llama to protect livestock should be considered as one measure among others. So far, however, we have experienced only 100% success stories and the overall success rate in the U.S is circa 85%.
"Will any male llama do the job?" No! Although the llama does not need training, it is very important that he is selected by an experienced person who understands well the characteristics required for a guard llama. It is equally important that the llama selected has been reared in the right manner, comes from a llama herd environment, is put to work at the right age, and is gelded at the right time.
"How do I go about choosing a guard llama?"

Seek expert advice. Purchase your guard llama from someone who fully understands the nature of llamas in general, the character of the llama selected in particular, and the precise nature of the work of guard llamas.

Be sure you are not buying someone's unwanted and inappropriate stock, or retired stud male that is too old for the work etc.










At RoseLand Llamas
we offer a full advisory and selection service to maximise the likelihood of success
 We will only offer you llamas that we believe should prove suitable for your purpose.

More Questions about llamas?
Llama FAQs

To buy llamas selected specially for livestock guarding please contact us