Alpacas have adapted well to South African conditions and herds are growing steadily. Some breeders, who are not necessarily into breeding for fleece only, but rather concentrate on the quality in their herds, take the advantage of selling their neutered male stock to sheep farmers around the country. It was found, internationally, that alpacas make excellent sheep guards! The alpaca is extensively and successfully used to curb predator problems.
Alpacas have a natural affinity to bond with sheep, the males being natural protectors. They graze the same pastures as sheep; their parasites are similar to those of sheep, which makes prophylactic treatment easier. They stand their ground when an intruder approaches – resorting to spitting, kicking / stomping and ultimately giving off high-pitched shrieking noises, to chase the intruder away. They stand their ground firmly.
Weighing up the costs of an alpaca herd guard with those of a properly trained Anatolian shepherd dog is a no-brainer. The added bonus of saving feed, having the use of the valuable fleece and a permanent, on-site herd guard add to the equation. Alpacas are also shorn at the same time as the sheep.
It was found that the loss of sheep, especially newborn lambs, decreased by up to 60% when Alpacas guard ‘their’ herd. Another benefit is, that alpacas do not damage the pasture – their feet are soft padded.
As alpacas are herd animals, it is not recommended to only have one animal guarding a herd, but rather have a minimum of two or more. It is said that one alpaca will be able to guard as many as 150 sheep.
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