GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - Spitting, kicking and a strange noise akin to a squeaky door hinge are enough to convince even the most vicious predators to move on.
That is the thought behind the guard llama.
Jeff Hasbrouck of Double J Farms and Feeding in Ault said people were naturally curious when he first started using llamas to guard his sheep about four years ago.
“I even had a couple people call me at home and ask, ‘Oh hey, what do you have the llamas for?’” he said. “A lot of people were interested in what’s going on.”
“What they do is put themselves in between the problem and whatever they’re guarding,” he said. “They make a kind of nasty sound that’s supposed to scare a predator away.”
They also spit at and will use their hooves to kick and injure predators.
Llamas are specifically useful as deterrents to coyotes because they have no fear of dogs, Hasbrouck said.
“We don’t lose hundreds of animals a year to coyotes,” he said. “We’re probably at 25 to 30 a year, but that’s with predator control. When we didn’t have (llamas), that number was higher.”
Hasbrouck said he didn’t come up with the idea to employ llamas as guards on his own. A friend of his said he once saw a llama jump a fence to protect a chicken coop from coyotes. Shortly after, Hasbrouck bought some to help control the predators at his sheep feedlot.
He said they have about 40,000 sheep to watch over, so extra eyes, even llama eyes, are always helpful.
Judy Glaser, who owns a llama farm in Kiowa, said llamas have very independent personalities.
“If you understand the personality of a cat, that’s a llama,” she said. “Where dogs have owners, cats have staff . llamas have staff.”
Glaser also said they don’t require a lot of upkeep.
“They don’t destroy a pasture, they just nip the top of the ground,” she said. “They can mow the grass just like goats do.”
Hasbrouck said for him, they are especially effective when used with dogs because both guard animals have different responsibilities. The dogs roam the perimeter and if anything gets past them the llamas are in the pens for protection.
Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, https://greeleytribune.com
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