Llamas Play A Leading Role In Outfoxing Destructive Foxes

By Glynda Bluhm

May 25, 2001 The Rural News

I read with interest outfoxing foxes to be a team effort in The Rural News on May 11.

I have spoken to many farmers who consider bailing to be a two edged sword - get rid of the fox and maybe lose the sheepdog, or the house dog to a fox bait too.

Some who lean towards organic farming and permaculture may have environmental concerns about baiting too.

Several years ago, the foxes at my Sutton property enjoyed regular chicken takeaways, Thirty chicken dinners (the foxes' dinners) later we decided if we were ever to see an egg again, we had better do some thing - so we pursued a shooting regime to reduce the foxes - but new ones just moved in.

Then the alpacas and llamas moved in.

Now I scarcely see a fox, or if I do it is in full flight pursued by the llamas and alpacas. They just won't tolerate the intrusion of a fox or unknown dog on their turf.

In the US, sheep farmers are successfully using llamas to bond with sheep and lambs to guard them against coyotes.

In Australia all sorts of livestock - sheep, goats, deer - and even poultry - are successfully guarded by both llamas and alpacas.

A llama owner near Mudgee, reported that his neighbour was involved in the fox poisoning program.

The baits were being taken in large numbers except along the boundary fence - where the

baits were untouched.

Closer investigation revealed that other side of the boundary was being patrolled by Llamas.

The foxes wouldn't take baits even though there was a fence to protect them from those Llamas

A Victorian llama farmer reports that his Llamas cornered a fox in an electrically fenced paddock and then stomped him to death.

A sheep farmer reported only 17 per cent lamb weaning rate, but the following year ,with the addition of two alpacas for fox protection, there was 100 per cent weaning!

Another sheep farmer said his lamb losses to fox predation dropped to nil with the addition of two Llamas.

I asked him how he made that assessment, and he said that twice daily he counted the lambs.

He also said that he had lost a few new-born lambs during a very cold snap and the carcasses weren't even touched.

He had to help a ewe deliver her lamb, and said that the Llamas stood nearby, protesting and sometimes, when their instinct got the better of them, even pushed the farmer away.

Presumably, even though they knew the farmer, they were concerned that he was "attacking" the lamb.

Llamas are happy to "mind" all sorts of livestock, especially babies.

They need no special feed, and for 20-plus years fox protection they are both effective and cost effective.

It is no surprise that those using Llamas for 24 hour fox chasers are delighted with their new 'weapon'.

The .best ideas are often the simplest ones.