Sunday, February 13, 2011

Video Footage - LLama vs Ram, Who is King of the Hay Pile?

One of our goals at Little Sprouts is to have multiple species co-existing. Not just having multiple species on the farm, but having them actually living in shared communities as much as possible. Doing so allows the animals to practice their natural instincts of domination and submission in a social order. We feel that this is a more natural manner for animals to live than being locked into various separate pens and cages. It also helps with disease control, as many species actually "clean up" after each other. An example of this is birds following herbivores, eating bugs in their remains and scratching apart the manure so it can decompose naturally.

Of course we do this within reason. We certainly don't want any animals unnecessarily harmed, and we definitely don't allow fights to the death. We do separate animals when necessary for their protection.

Today we witnessed and captured on video a contest, a battle of the wills, between our llama and our ram. The ram has been asserting himself more so lately as the leader. This conflicts with the llama who has seen himself as the protector and leader of the flock. Tonight when we pulled them out of the garden and back into the pasture, they both decided that the hay pile was their own, neither willing to submit to the other without a challenge.

This is the first time we have seen the llama in action. We have him specifically to protect the sheep from predators, but we rarely have predators. He protects first by standing between the predator and the sheep he is protecting, and that is as far as it has ever gone. Today he went further to defend his right to eat first against the  ram. He started with the usual attack gesture -  head up, ears straight back. When the ram charged him he made the warning sound, which sounds much like a very loud large frog croaking. If he ram got close enough the llama would then spit at him trying to hit him in the eyes. Apparently the sound is the llama "burping up"  stomach acid which must really burn when even a drop gets into the ram's eyes. The ram quickly learns respect for the llama, and eventually you see him shaking his head as if trying to clear his eyes. When pushed even further, right at the end you see the llama actually "sitting on" the ram to trap him against  the ground. This is the  point at which the ram gives up and lets the llama win the hay pile.

The ram has some awesome horns for protection. He backs up about 10 to 20 feet and takes off charging with horns forward. He repeats this trying to get a good lock on his target, but the llama always seem to either spit at him on the way or step aside at the last minute so the ram misses. Toward the end the ram tries to push the horns into the llama at close range, but this seems to only create more determination in the llama.  Ultimately, spitting and sitting seem to win over those awesome horns.

Here is the first video, its starts a bit far off to see, but they do move closer.

And here is the second video showing the conclusion.

1 comment:

  1. I am having the same experience with my ram and llama. The ram is a very large BFL. Much of the same action as in your videos however after separating them for a time and then putting them back together the tension escalated. The llama was inside the run in lying down and the ram attacked him. Now I have them permanently separated. My ewes are bred and I will sell the ram.