Listed below is some information presented in educational brochures from the International Llama Association:


Bears, cougars, bobcats, foxes and eagles are predators of sheep and goats and may be responsible for substantial loss. However, coyotes cause 64% and dogs 14% of losses. In 1990, sheep losses to predators in the US was $21.7 million and as high as $32-83 million in previous years. Loss of goats to predators in the top five producing states was $5.6 million in 1990.

Llamas are Effective Guards

Using llamas as sheep guards in North America began in the early 1980's. The use of guard llamas has greatly increased since the 1990's.

Over half of the llamas guarding sheep are 100% effective. An additional 40-45% of the guard llamas are highly effective while only 5-10% of the guards were ineffective.

Large predators such as bears and mountain lions may be too large or aggressive for the llamas. However, llamas have been known to alert herders of large predator attacks.

Attributes of Successful Guard Llamas

No training or previous association with sheep or goats is required for the llama to be an effective guard.

Any age llama, except those under one year, have been proven to be effective at the time of initial introduction.

Intact males are effective guards along with geldings. Females are also very aggressive toward canines. However, there have not been many studies using only female llamas.

One llama per flock is more effective than two or more llamas. Several llamas tend to bond to one another rather than with the sheep or goats and may ignore the flock.

Sheep or goats may be afraid of the llama at first. Introduce the llama to them while they are in a corral or small pasture. Leave them together until they seem to be well adjusted to one another. This encourages bonding.

A special bond develops between lambs and kids and their guard llama. The llama is particularly protective of the babies.

Some newly-introduced llamas will seek out the companionship of humans. You should avoid contact with this type of llama. The llama needs to bond with the flock not you.

Guarding Behavior

Llamas use a variety of methods or combination of methods to protect the sheep or goats. They may immediately run or walk after a coyote or dog with the intention to either stomp or hit the predator with their legs and chest. They may place themselves between the coyote and the sheep or goats. They may also herd the sheep into a safe area or corner or they may prevent the flock from entering an area where a predator is located. Some llamas sound their alarm call as soon as they see a predator. Some llamas also show protective behavior such as herding the sheep to safety during snow, seeking help when needed and lying down by newborn babies to protect them from wind and weather.

Working and Family Dogs

It is recommended that llamas and guard dogs not be used in the same flock.

Guarding Other Animals

Llamas are also successfully used to guard cattle and exotic deer.

In conclusion, the value of livestock saved each year exceeds the initial cost of the llama and the small annual maintenance. Llamas live a long time, have low maintenance, require no training, and protect the flock from environmental hazards. Guard llamas provide an acceptable environmental method to prevent predation.

The Normal Llama

Llamas vary in size from 240 to 550 pounds. Their rectal temperature varies from 99.0 to 101.8 degrees. In warm climates, they can have a temperature of 104 degrees. The heart rate of a resting llama ranges between 60-90/minute and respiratory rate 10-30/minute.


Llamas live to be over 20 years of age.

Shelter and Housing

Some kind of shelter, either in the form of trees, sheds or barns is usually necessary.

In considering the type of shelters needed, it is important to keep in mind that llamas treasure their freedom to come and go. They don’t like dark stalls or sheds which give the feeling of being shut in. They are more apt to use a shelter with large doors and windows that give a feeling of openness. If an animal is forced to stay outside, it may suffer.

Shade is essential in warm climates. Llamas may suffer heat stress when the temperature rises above 95 degrees. Although they may at times lie stretched out in the sun when it is very hot, they will more often seek shade. In areas of high temperatures of 110 degrees and over, owners provide sprinklers, streams, ponds and wading pools for cooling.

Young shade trees should be wrapped with wire to prevent debarking by nibbling llamas.

Cold climate housing depends on your weather severity and the wooliness of the llamas. Llamas native habitat provides an average extreme temperature of 20 to 55 degrees. Although it commonly freezes at night, the temperature rarely falls below 10 degrees. In areas where the temperature does not drop lower than 15 degrees for long periods of time, three-sided “loafing” sheds are usually sufficient. They should be oriented to provide maximum protection from the wind and storms. In regions where temperatures range frequently from -20 to 15 degrees, large barns or enclosed shelters work best. If temperatures remain below -20 degrees for extended periods, insulated, heated barns are required. Provide extra feed in cold weather and make sure your buildings have adequate ventilation for fresh air and straw bedding.


One method of grooming is clipping. Start by securing a 4 inch row of wood down the back of the llama with clothespins or large hair clips. Cut below this ridge in 1 inch horizontal layers from withers to rump. Continue down until one side is completed and then do the other. Release the secured ridge and brush down. Clipping is especially useful versus shearing due to the fact that guardian llama’s wool is often matted and too thick to brush through. Clipping can also be done with inexpensive scissors versus pricey shears.

Nail Trimming

Some llamas have toenails which grow too long or twist to the side. Periodic trimming will improve their appearance and prevent soreness. This procedure may only be needed once a year and many llamas never need it.

Nail trimming can be done with side-cutting nippers designed for sheep and goats. They are available at feed stores or veterinary supply catalogs. Restraint chutes greatly help. Some llamas will allow nail trimming while standing while others have to be held down by two or three handlers.

The object of nail trimming is to cut away excess horny material. Do not cut the sensitive quick which is supplied with nerves and blood vessels. Lay the nippers along the length of the toenail. Trim along one side and then the other of each nail. One additional cut across the tip may be necessary being cautious of the quick.

Waste Management

Llamas deposit their manure in common piles. This helps to reduce the spread of parasites because they will not eat the grass near the piles. Llama dung is palletized and nearly odorless. It can be used for fertilizer without burning garden plants. It can be spread on pastures for fertilizing only if it is spread in areas that will not be grazed by llamas for several months.

Preventative Medicine

Your basic vaccination program should include a CDT (tetanus toxoid and Clostridium perfringens type C & D). These are the same vaccinations given to sheep and goats.

Parasite Control

Llamas share the same species of worms that cattle and sheep have. Treatments vary with the parasite, geographic location and management practices used.

Feeding Facilities

Most llamas prefer to feed outdoors but they do not like wet hay. Waste can be avoided if some feeding mangers are located inside for wet weather. To decrease chances of llamas picking up parasites, they should not be fed on the ground. Guardian llamas need a maintenance diet of 8 to 10% protein. Quality grass hays will suffice to provide adequate protein intake. Loose salt should be offered free choice in a container sheltered from weather.

Catch Corrals and Chutes

Small catch corrals or pens are necessary for the ease of management. Build the catch corrals in the area that the llamas are accustomed to entering for food and shelter.

A chute built into the corner of a corral aids in the handling of routine health procedures and medical emergencies. A simple chute can be built using sturdy wooden posts and three fence poles for each side. The chute should be 2.5 feet by 5.5 feet, with the top pole about 45 inches from the ground. It does not need to be open at the front since llamas easily learn to back out. If needed, removable plywood side panels can be wired to the side poles to form solid walls.

When llamas are kept with other stock such as horses, goats or sheep, they should be observed to ensure they receive their fair share of feed and shelter. Greedier animals will prevent llamas from eating.

Catching A Llama

Herd the llama into a corner or small space where escape is impossible. They will surrender peacefully when you allow a few seconds for them to adjust. If you feed in a barn or small pen at the same time each day, you can wait until they go in and simply close the gate and move the animal into the corner.

Slowly place your hand on the llamas back and move your body along the animal and either halter it or “ear” it by running your hands up both sides of the animal’s neck.


Adequate, safe fencing for llamas varies enormously. In some instances a 3.5 foot high two pole fence may suffice. In other circumstances, a 5.5 foot chainlink or v-mesh fence might be necessary. Field fence (rolled wire) that has smaller openings at the bottom and larger ones at the top works well. Some llama owners use high tensile fence with success. Any fence with squares larger than 6 inches can cause problems since llamas stick their heads and legs through the openings. How llamas behave in certain situations determines the choice of fence. When they are content in their living groups and are left with their usual companions, they generally will respect a standard 3.5 - 4 foot fence. However, they are very agile and can easily jump a 4.5 foot fence when they feel the need to do so.

As long as llamas have adequate feed in their pastures, they seldom put pressure on fences to reach more.

Safety Tips

Because llamas have excellent eyesight and agility, they are not prone to injury. However, they like to stick their heads through loops of dangling ropes, hay strings, slots in feed racks, gates and fences. Therefore, maintain an environment free of potentially harmful objects.
Quality Llama Products, Inc. & Alternate Livestock Supply

If you are looking for some good llama products and equipment check out or call 800.638.4689. Quality Llama Products' catalogue includes information on:

1. Measuring for a properly fitting halter
2. Building a "homemade" grooming chute
3. Driving llamas
4. Hiking with llamas
5. Grooming tips
6. Physiological normals of llamas, alpacas, goats and miniature donkeys
7. Vitamin and minerals nutrition

Not only is this a good site to locate products for your llamas but their catalogue contains educational material.
Randy Sell, Research Associate
Department of Agricultural Economics, NDSU

Llamas are one of four main species of New World camelids. The other three species are the alpaca, guanaco and vicuna. These species are thought to have originated from a common ancestor that came across the Bering Strait land bridge. Camelids are thought to be related to Bactrian and Dromedary camels of Asia. The high dependence of Incan Indians of South America on llamas and alpacas for food and fiber is analogous to the Plains Indians of North America and their relationship to the bison. Incas carried their relationship with llamas a step further through domestication and controlled breeding for beasts of burden. With the collapse of Incan culture, llamas were nearly pushed into extinction and only survived in the harsh upper regions of their natural territory. The last 25 years have seen a resurgence of interest in llamas, especially in the United States. Llamas are first and foremost pets and companions. They are ideally suited to this task because of their predictable low-key temperament, intelligence and ease of maintenance. Wilderness packing is probably the second greatest demand for llamas. Llamas make ideal pack animals for the western mountainous regions of the United States because of their inherent thriftiness in this climate, their low-cost maintenance and their durability as pack animals. Wool may represent another use for llamas, although, with a large number of natural and synthetic substitutes for wool, it seems unlikely that llama herds will be maintained for wool production. In some instances, llamas have been used as a sheep guards against predators. The potential of this market has not yet been verified, but may hold some promise in the future. In some foreign countries, where the resident llama population is quite high, there is interest in using llamas as a food source. But, because of a relatively low population of llamas in the United States (about 35,000 animals in 1992) and a relatively high price, llamas are not likely to become a food source for Americans.
Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery, LLC
Farmstead Goat Dairy
3255 Buffalo Creek Farm Road
Germanton, NC 27019