Shangrila Farm Llamas

The Day in Life
of a Guard Llama

We sold our first llama to guard sheep in 1994.  He was Sundance, our first herd sire that we retired and gelded.  When we met up with Sundance's owner a couple of years later he told how great Sundance was working out as a guard.  In fact he told us a story that amazed us.  One day a ewe went down.  The rest of the sheep came in that evening without Sundance.  That alerted them that something was wrong.  When they found Sundance he was standing guard over the ewe.  He would not leave her side until help came.  I know this sounds like a Lassie story, but I swear it is true.

Jump ahead to 2014 and here is Jazzabelle with her little flock.  We  received a panicked call from Jazz's new owner.  She thought Jazz's neck was bleeding.  when we arrived and herded Jazz into the barn to inspect I saw that the dried blood was just on her fiber it did not go down to the skin.  So she had gotten bloody protecting her sheep who were just fine.  Later that year we received a call to tell us that Jazz was again a hero.  There dog had fallen into a frozen pond.  Jazz was alerting and would not stop until they found her and the dog and rescued him from the pond.  Yay jazz.

We have even sold llamas to guard chickens.  Here is one of our llamas here at the farm letting our chicken cuddle up to her for warmth and safety.

Most of our guards are bought for sheep, goats, calves and even horses.

We've heard that from a friend of Mahogany's owner that he doing a great job guarding his sheep, but the Boer goats that he bought him to guard are being ignored.   Luckily the goats are in the same pasture so in reality they are being guarded.   Llamas are territorial so even if they don't buddy up to their charges they do a good job of protecting the area.  We have also sold llamas to guard just goats and they do bond with goats.  But if they have a choice I think a sheep looks more like a baby llama than a goat does.

If there are only goats they will definitely bond to the goats.  Not only do they guard but they will herd them back to the barn.

Just recently we placed a gelding with someone that was having problems with dogs and his calves.  Even though the llama hasn't bonded with the calves, the dogs are no where to be seen.  And the owner says the llama seems perfectly content to graze beside the calves.

We sold a weanling boy as a pet to someone who has goats, sheep, donkeys and cows a couple of years ago.  They told us that they looked out their window about a year or so after they brought him home to see him chasing dogs away from a newborn calf.  They said they could not have gotten out to the calf in time, so that Puppy saved the calf's life.  Puppy was almost 2 years old when this happened.  He now is officially a guard llama.

Years ago we sold a male named Merlin to a sheep farm that was losing lambs to predators.  They wrote us a lovely note with a picture of Merlin standing with his sheep.  They said that
"He didn't know what to think of the lambs at first back in the spring, but they all made it to market this fall."

We have found a wonderful use for our females who can't or shouldn't be bred anymore.  One of our Grand Champion Appaloosa females had problems as a mother, so we sold her to King William Alpacas to guard their female alpacas.  This is the picture they sent us.  As you can see she is much bigger than her charges.

Back Country Ranch Alpacas has two females and two males from our farm in various Alpaca pastures.  And we have also sold to Alpaca farms who just love llamas and get guarding as a buy product of breeding their llamas.  Then they also get an alternative market for people who come to buy alpacas but just can't swing it financially or want to also buy guard llamas for their alpacas. One Stop Shopping.

We recently received a call from a goat breeder in Arizona who was told by her vet that she should purchase a llama for a companion for her pet alpacas to calm them down and make them feel more secure.  I don't think she realized how effective Jorja was going to be guarding the goats. She sent us this email.

I just saw the most amazing thing!  Jorja herding 3 tiny doelings to safety in the dark.   At first I thought she was trying to stomp them. I got in between her and the first doeling and then put my hands over my head and stepped forward towards her to get her to back off.  She started bucking and ran off.  I let Trinity into the doe yard, turn around and here comes Jorja playing soccer w/Estrella and Kallista.   I had a rake in my hand and almost wacked her.  lol  Then it dawned on me she was herding them into the barnyard.   She craned her neck down and sniffed each one once they were where she wanted them, under the light up by a feeder near me. Then she turned, bucked and twisted about and went back to the gate between the paddock and barnyard and stood guard.  Every now and then, she would take off in a wild run out into the dark, then come back and resume her guarding position.  Jorja is one awesome guard llama!  Just thought I'd share. I'm so proud of her! Debbie McQueen"

In 2000, we received a call from Mary Miller the mother of Mathew Miller an extension agent in Virginia who raises prize winning sheep.  It turned out that all he wanted for Christmas was a guard llama for his sheep.  He mother found us along with a few other farms and came for a visit.  We had two males that we felt would be good for guarding.  We agreed to let him pick his llama after Christmas and gave her the "Caring for Llamas" book by Dr. Clair Hoffmanand the halter and lead that would go with the llama and a picture of both llamas for her to wrap up to present to Mathew.  He picked Andre.  We talked with him recently and he said Andre is doing great.

The other llama that he did not pick is also guarding now.  Ishkabible took to his job immediately.  I always felt that he belonged with sheep and I was right.  Jane sent me daily updates.  It was fascinating to hear Ish stories. 
"He rats out the lambs every time they do something they are not supposed to do like going into a field they shouldn't be in. He really bonded with the sheep.  The one mother keeps forgetting about her baby so he just hangs out by the baby and leads it back to mom.  When I take him for a walk, he is fine until the the sheep start baaaaing.  One little baaaa is ok, but let them cry out well he has to go back now to the fence and check on them.  He's got to see everyone.  If we can't find two of them, he's got to go find them.  When he's happy that nothing is wrong we can finish our walk." 
Guard llamas bringing in the cows and goats
Jane's husband Steve was won over when Ish spotted a dog that was so far out Steve couldn't see him.  But Ish did.  He stopped eating and was flipping his ears back and forth until Steve could finally see what Ish was looking out.  Steve captured the dog before it got to their pasture and brought it back to its owner.

The only problem with Ishkabible is that he likes the white sheep, but will have nothing to do with the black sheep.  So Steve and Jane bought Katrina a dam that we took out of production because she had problem births.  All of her babies had been black so we thought she might bond to the black sheep.  There is some controversy as to whether you should only have one llama per field or if two or more will still be effective.  Since Ish was gelded I wasn't worried about them making babies.  This probably would have worked well, but Jane fell in love with a young intact male we had for sale, Scout and wanted him for a pet.  Well I thought these llamas were going to be in seperate fields.  This should have worked.  But they couldn't manage to keep all the sheep in the fields they wanted them in so they all ended up together.  Ish did not want to share his sheep at first, but got over it.  Katrina took awhile to bond to the sheep possibly because she is older.  But she did.  Scout was the problem.  He decided he wanted to breed Katrina.  She wanted no part of him.  We offered to take him back and it looked like that was going to happen, but it finally all worked out.

Guard llamas bringing in the sheep, cows and goatsKatrina has turned out to be a wonderful guard.  She is originally from a ranch in Montana, so she is used to no shelter.  We had a problem with her keeping her babies out at the perimeter of our pasture even in the pouring rain.  This will be a good thing in her current position, because she will guard the outer region while Ish stays close to the lambs at the barn.  I was so thrilled when I received the following story about Katrina.  This meant she was going to be a true sentinel guard. 
"Yesterday I was watering the cows when I heard Katrina doing this weird, loud yell. It almost sounded like a toucan crying.  She looks at me crying, she looks at the dog and cries then she screams at the sheep.  She walked over to the gate to the big field and cries.  20 minutes go by and she is still crying.  I couldn't figure out why.  I go back out to the cows to finish watering them and see that our ram is out.  As soon as I start herding him back in to the pasture Katrina stops crying.  When I get him back in Katrina goes back to eating as if nothing had ever happened."  I explained to Jane that what she was hearing was the Alarm Cry.  That they do this to warn the herd of danger.

We just received a new story about Ish and Katrina. 
"There was a wind storm that blew open the gate of the pen that housed Ish's sheep.  He stood at the open gate and would not let anyone out of the pen.  The wind broke off a piece of metal roof but it was hanging on by a little bit. Well it was making noise and flapping , Katrina just kept crying and looking up to it like she was telling me well do something about it. It's going to fly and hurt someone. She just wouldn't stop crying till it came off. "

We always guarantee that our llamas will do their job or we will take them back.  One female we sold, Tranquil, had won first place in the show ring and we were excited about the babies she would produce for us.   It turned out she couldn't get pregnant.  The new owner said she didn't really care if she guarded or not. 
"She is so beautiful that I am happy just to be able to look at her out in the field."  But she is doing a great job as a guard. 

After years of successfully guarding sheep Tranquil was found dead of unknown causes.  Her owners came back to us for a another llama and luckily we had just gelded a male that would be a good candidate.  We wouldn't know for sure until he is put in with the sheep.  Well we just got an update today. 
"We sheared Friday and I wanted to let you know how Joey did. He stayed with the sheep until they went to the ‘preshearing pen’, and then he became quite agitated. Stayed as close as he could – just a fence between them. When the first couple of sheep had been sheared, he went over to the fence and stuck his nose through and received direct ‘nose to nose’ communication from the victims."

After a while, he seemed satisfied, but he kept coming up to the fence and checking them out.

The guys were impressed by how he stayed with the sheep when they were being run from the pasture, and they like him lots more than they did Tranquil.  Joey has been real steady and easy to work with. "

Dr. James "Jim" McKenna, Professor of Agronomy and Interim Department Head Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, at Virginia Tech contacted us about wanting to put a weanling male in with his sheep to see if a young one growing up with the sheep would be better.  We followed up with him and this was his reply:

"Jude is doing very well. We took your advice and waited to geld him until he was older. He has an excellent temperament. He has learned his job well. He "herds" the sheep more than "Clyde" did. But he has the plan down...if something he doesn't like shows up, he takes the sheep as far away as possible and then puts himself between the sheep and the threat. The neighbors have said that when they walk their dogs by the front pasture and Jude is there, he shadows the dog along the fence, with head down at dog level. Right now he isn't as pretty as he was when he came...he loves to roll in the dust (and as dry as it is, we've got plenty of that). But he comes to me to eat from my hand when I feed the ewes...he has been with the young ones all summer. Right now he's in the barnyard, as the rams are with the ewes, and I don't want him to misinterpret what's happening and intervene. Maybe I'll have a chance to groom him a little now. Hope all is going well for you and yours. Jim"  Even as a weanling Jude was still much bigger than his sheep.  We have successfully placed many weanlings and yearlings since Jude.

We have also sold many males and especially females to guard alpacas.  One of our favorite boys went to Simply Southern Alpacas.  This is what Linda wrote us:

Hi there!  Mo is doing great.  He is the absolute ruler in the boys pasture. He does not allow any tomfoolery at all.  Keeps all his charges in line.  I brought a new male home a couple of weeks ago who thought Mo was a push over.  That lasted about two minutes...Mo kicked butt and took his name.  No more trouble from him since.  I just love him...and he is my husband's favorite.



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Shangrila's Herd Sires:  BAL Haggerty - BAL Whisk Me Away - Power Spike - Boogie Knight

Shangrila's Reference Herd Sires:  Paso Peru - Smokin' Joe - Fancy Creek Hobbes - Cuervo Supreme - Movin On- BAL Whizard
Argentine Altanero - BAL Presidio

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