Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can An Alpaca Farm Be Predator Friendly?

Can An Alpaca Farm Be Predator Friendly?

Because alpacas are so gentle and skittish, most assume that this is not an option.  Undoubtedly, at every show we are at, customers will come up to us and start talking about the wolves, coyotes, bears and other potential threats against the alpacas.  Its true, they are like live bait without any defense mechanisms - minimal kicking, no fighting tactics and a wad of spit will hardly stop a mountain lion from attacking.




We live in Montana, open fields, streams, mountainous terrain.  I love the wildlife that is here.  They are why we are here - because 99.9% of the rest of the world does not have the opportunity to live near the moose, bear, elk and everything that goes with them.  But that doesn't mean we should kill off any perceived threats.  If you shoot, kill, or poison one, another will always come to take their place because it is available territory.  We have found that coyotes and fox can be trained, just like any other dog.  We see them walking on the outside of the fences, our Anatolians escorting them as the walk past or around our pastures.  The number one threat for alpacas is neighbor dogs, and we cannot / should not shoot all of them.

For protection, we have 4 x 4 square field fence, a hot wire on top of the perimeter, 2 llamas and 2 dogs.  Just because we live in the wilds of Montana, we are not going to "hope" our alpacas make it in the pastures.  We have had 4 different mountain lion attacks, all of which Cookie, our female Anatolian, fought off at different times.  Some of the alpacas were cut up by the mountain lion's claws, but we never lost an alpaca.  The only time we did loose an alpaca was when a neighbor's Husky jumped the fence and attacked one of our males.  Cookie was only 9 months old at the time and not old enough to guard. Thus, it was our fault in essence.  Once we had the dogs and llamas in place - 7 years ago now, we have not lost an alpaca since. 

Our feeling is that we moved into this area which was once available to a lot of wildlife.  We have the ability to co-exist with these animals without complete eliminating their terrain and food sources.  Why not peacefully live amongst them if possible?