Changing Group Dynamics
There has always been a very specific pecking order among my llamas. I guess all herd animals have a pecking order. Who gets to eat first? Who is on guard to watch for predators? Who leads the group from here to over there? This was pretty straight forward in my small group of llamas. Smokey was always the first to eat. He was also always on guard, paying close attention to who came and went on the property, who came out to the studio, when I showed up to feed, etc. Smokey was always aware.
When it came to eating, Shiraz was always the last to drop his nose into the feed bin. I don't know if this is because he is the other guard llama in the group, despite the fact that he was always on break, or because he occupied the lowest rung on the pecking order.
Stash and Tucker were somewhere in the middle. Smokey would take the first feed bin. Stash and Tucker would jockey for the next several feed bins and Shiraz would come up at the last when everyone was already eating.
Things are different now that Stash is gone. Smokey is still first in line but now Shiraz has moved up to second. Tucker is left to the last. It's an interesting insight to the group dynamics.
Another interesting question is who makes the decision to move the group from one pasture to another? I don't really know the answer to this. The llamas and the goats seem to decide where to go independently of each other except sometimes they seem to be one herd and not two. The llamas are much more aware of their surroundings. The goats are much more brazen about pushing their way into whatever is going on.
Our remaining Welsh Pony, Steele, has spent the last several years in pastures 1 or 2. I move him back and forth depending on which pasture has the better grass or needs to be mowed. Steele has occasionally been in pasture 3 but not recently. As the number of llamas and goats has grown, they take up pastures 3, 4 and 5.
Just this past month I moved Steele into pasture 1 and opened pasture 2 to the llamas and goats. My husband, Ron, worked very hard to trim the fence lines of both pastures 1 and 2. He cut out lots of vines and anything that he didn't know for sure was going to be good for the goats. He very carefully left all the grape vines since the goats love them.
I expected the goats to venture into the new to them pasture first but it was the llamas we saw in there first. It took the goats one whole day to decide that it was fine for them to be in there too. I wish I could read their minds.