Ok, not really a lot of “A” but some.

Yes, Llamas make good guard animals.  The three options we had for a guard were a donkey, a llama or a dog.  Donkeys got crossed off the list right away because Raven and I are both deathly allergic to horses.  A dog was top of the list because Raven kept insisting I was mad to get a llama, and a barking dog is good security across the board.  But we already have the freest of free-range chickens, and this spring Raven plans to get ducks, so we were going to have to be incredibly picky about breed and spend a lot of time training a dog not to chase the birds.  So the llama was looking better, and Raven caved.

Llamas don’t like canines.  They are a prey animal, but because of their size they are a prey animal with ‘teeth’ – if a dog or coyote comes around they sound an alarm, and will even attack it.  The woman I got Galahad from had recently had to rescue her neighbor’s dog who had broken into her llama and alpaca pasture.  The llamas had circled the dog, and were preparing to beat it to death with their dainty wee hoofies.  (Donkeys are the same way, they’ll kick a dog.)

So yes, llamas are guards, and no, my yard/pasture are no longer a good place to be a puppy.  They can learn to get along with dogs they live with, but Bryan, my 16-year old lab, is failing badly.  He is already afraid of sheep and chickens, and only goes out in the front of the house (when he actually bothers to get up), so he doesn’t even know there is a llama.  Bryan is a wonderful dog, we were incredibly lucky to have him, and his failing condition is another part of the reason we don’t want to start with another dog right now.

Another perk with llamas for me is of course that they have fleece.  Galahad is all soft and cushy, and all of his colour is in his guard hair, the undercoat is white like the snow.  His guard hair is pretty soft too, and it may or may not stay that way.  A lot of llamas in North America have been bred for softer hair because of crazy fibre junkies like you and I, but since Galahad is only a baby his hair may thicken up, I really don’t know.  Looks like his ‘virgin’  fleece is going to be a dandy, though!

And no, the postman hasn’t met him yet.  He (Galahad, not the postman) has his own stall in the sheep barn, so that he has a safe place where the sheep won’t beat him up.  We bring him out several times a day, since we’re having a warm spell right now, to let him run around and get used to the yard and the sheep, and the sheep push him around, and when he or we get sick of it he goes back to his stall.  He likes the sheep, he really wants to hang out with them, they just all have to get their highrarchy sorted out.  That took maybe two weeks when Vellum came in and now they’re fine – probably take a bit longer with Galahad because of the stall and the supervised play, but he’s several months younger than Vellum and has no mommy to hide behind when things get rough, so I’m not ready to just throw them all in together and walk away!

Llamas are very trainable, Galahad is already fine with putting on a halter, and we started working on “stand still” this morning. (That will be needed for combing and shearing later).  I also have to work on his allowing me to touch areas he doesn’t like, such as his legs and feet, so that I will be able to trim his hooves when needed.  He loves neck rubs, so I have a starting point for that.

There is lots and lots of llama info online, so if you want any more detail, it is out there.  I’m still researching too, mostly now things that I can train Galahad to do that he might enjoy.  I don’t particularly need a ‘trick llama’, but they are very intelligent, and because he’s bottle-fed and basically sees me as ‘mommy’ (I know, that was fast, huh?) I want to make a lot of my time with him ‘teaching time’ so when he gets older he doesn’t mistake me for having a place in the flock somewhere.  That is when they will spit and kick, it’s a pecking order thing.

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