Do you need a guard animal for your alpacas? The answer to that question – at least for us – has been “no.”
When we started building the alpaca farm, we made the decision to erect the best possible fence and paid someone to do that for us. We have no-climb fencing with a top board around the entire perimeter. On the part of the property facing the driveway, we invested in four-board with no-climb since it gives a nicer appearance when you come up our driveway. All our fencing is painted with good-quality black fence paint for both appearance and durability purposes.
Our cross fencing was supposed to be no-climb; however, as the fencing company got going on the project, we were told it was actually cheaper to use four-board instead of the no-climb. So, we went with that for the internal fence dividers. Periodically, a cria will slip in with our big boys, but it’s never created a problem.
The no-climb comes all the way down to the ground with no chance of anything slipping in underneath, save a mouse.
We also have two layers of gates up at the barn. One gate keeps anything from getting inside the barn, although our cats are able to slip underneath. Of course, this is a good thing since the cats provide mouse duty, and it also lets them into the barn to escape the elements if need be. Then, there is yet another gate in the barn as an added barricade just in case something did compromise that first gate.
We decided if our fencing wasn’t sufficient enough, we would look into adding electric to it. However, nothing has ever gotten into our pastures other than a couple squirrels who quickly scurried out.
While we have nothing against guard animals, we realized guard animals were more mouthes to feed as well as more vet bills. Typical choices of canine guard animals are Great Pyrenees, Maremmas, and Anatolian Shepherds. Because their job as guard animals is to protect, they are going to bark. Since we live in a small, large-acreage subdivision (five to 25 acre parcels of property) and do have homes not too far away from us (you can see the house next door all the way to the right in the photo above), we did not want our neighbors to be annoyed by barking. Much better to be a good, quiet neighbor, we think!
Some people will use llamas as guard animals. However, llamas are large animals who also require monthly shots as well as toenail trimming. Sometimes it’s hard enough to trim the nails of our alpacas. We decided we weren’t inclined to trim the nails of an even larger animal than our alpacas. Personal choice, of course.
Coyotes and fox are plentiful in our area, but neither of these species seem to be at all interested in our alpacas. Knock wood!
Of course, the worst predator of alpacas is notoriously dogs. It’s wise to realize this and plan accordingly when deciding how best to protect your alpacas. Not only do you want good fencing for your pastures, but be mindful of keeping stray dogs from entering your barn.
As Robert Frost said in his famous poem entitled Mending Wall, “Good fences make good neighbors.”