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    Guard Llamas with Maison de Mings

    Authored by Amy Mings

    I grew up on a farm in Illinois – the kind that uses tractors to plant, tend, and ultimately harvest grains, not the kind that raises livestock. As our family began ‘hobby’ farming – focusing mainly on cute and fuzzy animals – I’ve been continually amazed at how many layers of life can exist in such a small space; and at all the ways they can intertwine. The smaller creatures on our farm live in a spacious, protective environment, and though we did the best we could, at the end of the day, it still felt important to get them a full time ‘protector’ – so we bought a guard llama. 

    We may be somewhat new to “llama life,” but have quickly come to appreciate their quiet, curious, and protective demeanor.

    Choosing a guard llama

    Adding a llama to our farm was a natural choice since we already had Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep. With smaller farm animals, safety has always been upmost importance. My husband and I installed our 2x4 welded wire pasture fencing ourselves and while we felt it was secure, we knew we should also consider adding a large guard dog or llama to the farm.

     Did you know that llamas can instinctively bond with other animals and provide a high level of protection from predators like a coyote? After talking to other sheep owners, we decided a llama would be the best option for us. A llama would require similar care as our sheep and minimal training, so it was an easy decision. We stumbled upon a listing for a guard llama in a nearby state and immediately fell in love! We bought a young male who was used to being around humans and had also previously been with Southdowns.

    He was very quiet compared to our other livestock and we kept his given name – Bleu Sky. Upon bringing him home, we quickly learned he was food motivated. We recommend treat training for any animal as it helps to catch them more easily for veterinary care and the annual shearing process. Since we planned to use Bleu Sky as a guard, we had him gelded a few weeks after we brought him to our farm. 

    How do llamas guard livestock

    Llamas are intelligent and naturally vigilant; Bleu Sky is always aware of his surroundings. It is clear he understands who belongs to our farm – for both humans and animals. Llamas have an excellent sense of hearing that allows them to detect approaching friends or foes. Anytime I look outside and see Bleu Sky standing alert, I know someone has either pulled up our driveway or he hears a predator approaching. On many occasions, we have seen Bleu Sky step into action to protect all our livestock – even our chickens, ducks, geese and mini pig! He quickly alerts the other animals when a predator approaches; even our notoriously noisy ducks stay silent as Bleu Sky makes an alarm call and herds the animals and poultry into a tight circle. His instinctive, protective nature is truly incredible to see. Thankfully, in four years, we have never had a predator get through our pasture fencing. I truly believe the large stature of our llama has scared predators away, so they don't even try to breach our fence. 

    Bleu Sky and our familiy

    It is important to note that while most llamas are curious and territorial, not all of them have the personality to be a guardian. Llamas, like a large guard dog, have their own limits. It is likely a llama would not fare well against a pack of coyotes, dogs or wolves. However, studies have shown that llamas have been effective in harming or even killing a single dog or coyote as a protective act. 

    Our llama, Bleu Sky, has stolen our heart. To our surprise, he doesn’t take a lot of work to keep, and for an outdoor animal, he doesn’t smell bad either. His fiber isn’t the best for spinning, but over the years he has instinctively stepped up to his role as a protector. We often find our sheep and alpacas huddled up with him and the occasional chicken hitching a ride on his back. He is truly a gentle giant and has been so good with our young girls. 

    In our area it is not common to raise Babydoll sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, a pig or own a llama and alpacas, but we wouldn't have it any other way. It seems like our favorite days are ones spent outside watching the animals interact or working alongside our girls to help care for them. On warm days, you’ll find Bleu Sky resting in the shade or swimming in our pond. The average lifespan of a llama is 15-25 years. We plan to keep Bleu Sky around for many years to come as he is an adored protector on our hobby farm!


    Amy Mings is half of the Maison de Mings lifestyle brand. You can read more about Bleu Sky, their hobby farm and DIY projects at their blog, MaisondeMings.com.