Articles have recently appeared in both the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian (links below ) referring to the use of “aggressive” llamas being used to guard farm property.

To Llama owners, these articles were read with interest and no little amazement about the claimed use of “aggressive” llamas. Llamas are in fact very peaceful animals and unless very badly handled pose little risk to people. There may have been a little confusion in the NFU survey referred to in the articles, since while llamas are used as guards, this is usually for sheep and chickens against marauding foxes and dogs, certainly not to guard farm property and equipment.

Many farms do indeed use a gelded male llama who can prove to be an excellent guards for sheep in particular. The llama will bond with the sheep and become the herd leader watching out for dogs and foxes and chasing them away while herding the sheep away from the danger. A llama can pack quite a punch and will charge a fox and try and knock it over and stomp it, something witnessed by the Chairman of the British Llama Society himself. The same llamas which by the way, will come when they are called by the Chairman’s wife and sit down in a circle around her for treats!
In fact, there was a recent sad case involving a llama who had been guarding sheep for some years. Eventually things changed on the farm and the sheep were sold off. The llama was so distraught at losing his flock, that he simply pined away.
A small point for interested sheep farmers, make sure you use a gelded male llama, full males can sometimes get the wrong idea!
Oh and do llamas spit? Yes, of course and certainly at each other, it’s a way of maintaining the pecking order in the herd and its an excellent defence. Very rarely do they spit at people unless seriously provoked!

With thanks to Axel Bührmann, orazal, lucianvenutian, Veronique Debord, quinn.anya for creative commons use of pictures