The big day arrived. Sean (my wonderful llama shearer and part owner of Figment Ranch) loaded up my three new llamas and arrived at my house with no problems other than having to change trailers in the process. The three new boys were wearing halters and we lead them out of the trailer and into my barn. They all lead beautifully and stood calmly. It was a treat.
Guard llamas are most usually males and almost always neutered but their fighting teeth are not removed. The fighting teeth are used by males to establish dominance over competing males and thereby successfully breed with the ladies. Fighting teeth are a good thing if you are on guard. Guard llamas are not like guard dogs that will attach predators. Instead, they are watchful and if they see something they don’t like, they walk towards it with head held low in an effort to shoo the intruder out of the pasture. They are pretty good at it too because they are tall with long legs and necks so they can look pretty threatening.
This is exactly what I want my guard llamas to do – shoo off anything that comes into the pasture that might bother my herd. Here is an interesting fact of geography. I live in “rabies central” for this county. This is not something that was listed as pertinent information when we bought this place but it has been confirmed by our vet. Most of the cases of rabies in this county happen within a stone’s throw of my place. This puts a slightly different slant on the whole guard llama thing. I can’t very well put them out there to guard my herd without rabies shots. And while we’re at it, the entire herd should get rabies shots. The horses, cats and dog have always gotten rabies shots but I hadn’t thought about it for the goats, etc.
So, Sean and I walked the new llamas into a stall where I had already put out a small bit of feed. I wanted them to know where they would get fed and where the water and minerals were located. After they had eaten the feed and investigated the stall, I opened the door so they could have the run of the barn and the pens outside. From the beginning it was obvious that Smoky was in charge. He was the first to venture out of the stall, the first to look out at the pens, the first to move out and try eating the grass. All the rest of my animals were fascinated by the new arrivals so were standing at the fence watching. Smoky had an excellent view of the entire herd and watched them all like he was trying to memorize them.
Smoky watched the fence line, the tree line, the other animals, me, my dog, everything. Shiraz was interested in everything but with the air of someone not on guard duty right now. Stash spent more time watching me than anything else, like he was trying to figure out what would impact him personally.
The vet arrived the next morning. All the rabies shots were given efficiently and quickly. We ran fecals on all the animals and determined only the new guys needed to be wormed so the vet came back to handle that. I’m pretty good at giving shots to all the animals but giving oral worming medication to adult llamas does not fall into the category of “Penny can do this.” They have long necks and long legs and are very agile. And of course there is the whole spitting thing. Fortunately, my vet is young, strong and has lots of experience. He got them all wormed pretty quickly with no spitting. And then the new llamas got to go out in the pasture with Tucker, the alpacas and the goats……