Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Ten Reasons for Owning (Loving) Alpacas - Chicken Guardians

Well, I did mention that these reasons wouldn't be in order of importance.  This is my third entry in the Top Ten. 
If you've been reading my blog, you know that I keep chickens for eggs, fly-control and entertainment.  We started with five, then the next year had ten, and currently have more than I want to admit.

Our chickens are free-range.  They have a nice chicken house and coop within our front alpaca pasture.  During the spring, summer and fall, the chickens are free to roam where they want always returning to their coop at night. The usually stay within the fenced pastures.  They have a lovely little life and provide a great source of entertainment as we watch them from our kitchen table.

We never had any trouble with predators for the first fourteen months that we kept chickens.  I was surprised, as I had heard many stories from other farmers about raccoons, foxes, weasels, large predatory birds, etc. taking their hens.

We learned our lesson one day.  We had been keeping two of the older male alpacas in the front pasture over the spring and into summer.  I decided to move the boys back into the main male pasture area, to allow the front pasture grass to renew itself.  Three days later, as usual when I rose from my bed, I glanced out my window to check that the farmyard was still as it should be.  Even without my glasses, I could recognize the shape of a large fox carrying off one of my hens in its mouth.  To make a short story, the fox had made off with 4 hens that night.  I realized that the front pasture had not been empty at any other time that we had chickens.

We put alpacas back in that pasture that day.  The fox never came back and we haven't lost a chicken in the last sixteen months (touch wood!).  My neighbours have.  Case closed!


Azure Islands Designs said...

Interesting!!! "Guard Alpacas"...wonder if you could market them this way... :0)

Your alpacas look so cute, but obviously they can get territorial when they need to...bet ya the chickens are happy to see them back in the front pasture...


Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Actually, I've seen a show, something like "Animals with Jobs" from Britain where they were talking about alpacas guarding chickens. Only from small predators though...alpacas can't seriously defend themselves from large predators or dogs. They have soft padded feet, no top teeth at the front, and only weight an average of 160lbs.