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Guarding rare sheep

You might say I'm a very special llama.  You see, I was lucky enough to land a special assignment in my guard duties:  I've been  charged with guarding rare British Soay Sheep.  Currently there is only 370 ewes in this country, and I'm in charge of 11 of them - and 9 of those are pregnant. 

British Soays are considered the first domesticated sheep in the world.  The breed is over 5000 years old.  Hmmmmm, maybe some of my ansestors guarded Soays. 

It gets dark so early during the winter.  I have to be more alert for predators once it gets dark. 

Mom insists on closing the barn door when it gets too cold - 61

but otherwise I  like to have it open a little bit so I can keep a look out for predators.

Communication

Guard llamas communication to sheep and humans in a variety of ways.  I find that a snort or clucking my tongue usually gets their attention.  I haven't needed to resort to spitting.  We all get along pretty well here.60

One of my favorite things to do is the chasing game.  The sheep will run out of the barn and I will prance after them.  The sheep will run back the barn and we start again.  Sometimes the lambs try to trick me and split off in different directions.  I just keep prancing around and they come running back because they don't want to be left behind.

Once I've had enough of that game, I cluck my tongue and everyone gets the message.

 

I haven't had to use my alarm cry very often.  I can make a noise through my nose that sounds like a giant prehistoric bird.  It's pretty impressive. When I sound the alarm, that means a predator is nearby and all the sheep run into the barn. 

 

Communication is the key to being a good guard llama.

 

Dahli

 

Guarding sheep

Apparently it's not as cold outside so Mom let the ewes out of the pen and now I can get back to the business of guarding my sheep.  I jumped for joy several times.  Mom tried to take a photo but she's not very fast with the camera.  My sheep were excited to be out and running around again.  59 I'm happy to be back with them again.

 

Dahli

Life of a guard llama part 2

There isn't any training to be a guard llama.  Guard llamas just are.  It comes from within.  Mantra:  Be the Llama

Dahli

 

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Life of a guard llama

All the sheep have been fed and watered and they have all settled down for the evening.  57

Now, I finally get a chance to eat myself although that doesn't mean I'm off duty.  A guard llama is on-call 24-7 to watch over his flock and be alert for predators.  It takes a lot of commitment to be a guard llama but it is very rewarding.

 

Dahli

Bugger it's cold

Mom won't let any of us outside right now.  She says it's below zero.  All I know is it's cold in the barn.  I've checked on all my sheep, they're all doing well in their pens.   The ram lambs peek out their door to see what's going on.  They are so curious!

 

Mom tried to let the ewes out of th45  eir pen so I could be with them, but the rams heard them running around and started ramming each other, so Mom put the ewes back in their pen.  

I checked on the rams afterwards, and they have settled down again. 

Mom is giving us extra hay because it's so cold.

Dahli

 


separation anxiety

Mom brought the rams in the barn and everything changed.  The big rams went into one pen.  The little rams went into another pen.  Then she penned up all my ewes, even the lambs!  I can only look over the pen wall at them! 

How can a guard llama guard his flock if he can't be with his sheep!  44

I know what I'll do.....I'll stand outside in the snow until she gives me my ewes back!

That will teach her........I'm getting pretty wet out here........and it's getting cccccold!

 

Dahli

Dahli the Llama Diaries

I am going to hand off the blog writing to Dahli the Llama. 43 I have not been very consistent with my blog entries, and I'm sure he will do a much better job.  Dahli can give you a unique perspective on the life of a guard llama.  He's looking foward to his new role as Blog writer and plans to include photos as well. 

The new sheep have arrived!

We purchased 10 additional sheep from Kathie Miller.  They were transported in an animal trailer from Oregon to Wisconsin.  The sheep arrived yesterday afternoon and they all look calm despite their journey. They all were hungry and gobbled up the fresh hay. water and sheep feed I put out for them.  The rams and ewes are being kept in separate isolation pens for a short time.  This is a precaution to make sure they are all healthy before introducing them to the rest of our sheep.

 

Our new ram is the son of an AI ram with new UK genetics.  We are very excited to add him in our breeding program. In addition to Justin, our new ram, we also purchase two wethers (castrated rams). [[wysiwyg_imageupload::]]It is so important to keep wethers in with the rams, especially right before breeding season when they all start testing each other.

 

In addition to the rams, we have 7 new ewes, 5 of which are adults, so they will be added to our breeding groups this season.  They bring to our flock a greater depth of diversity which is typical of Soay sheep in the wild.

 

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Rooing

We have rooed Linden and Glenda, getting about a pound of wool off of each.   Rooing involves just pulling off clumps of wool.  Once the sheep are ready to be rooed, it comes off really easily.   I was surprised how thick the wool was!  Glenda had a thin fur layer already growing in when we removed the wool.  Linden, however, was bare skin when we rooed the wool off.  They resemble small deer without all their wool.[[wysiwyg_imageupload::]]  Linden still has a bit of wool on her back that was still attached.  As soon as it loosens up, we'll roo that off.

The yearling ewes and rams still have their wool.  We were hoping the warm weather would trigger the wool to loosen up.  So far, they are still hanging on to their wool.  We did try to use some sheep shears to take some of the wool off.  Boy is that hard work!  I'm so glad we have 'self-shearing' sheep!  I've been told that the wool loosening is triggered by hormones and the yearlings will probably start loosing their wool in June.