llama afraid of pigs

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Post  bobbycow on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:30 am

I wonder if anyone can help please?
We have just re-homed 2 male llamas, one aged four and one six from a llama park because they have mild medical conditions. One has “dropped arches” and the other has dermatitis. They are otherwise healthy.
We have a small holding and rescue a variety of animals – we have Shetland ponies, a donkey, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, geese, chickens, ducks etc, and they normally all mix together happily without any problems.
Unfortunately one of the Llamas is badly frightened of the pigs, and gets very agitated if he can see or hear them. He trembles, paces about, puts his head to the ground and brings it rapidly up, makes a high pitched whine, 'cackles' and stays rooted to the spot not moving for lead rein or encouragement – but eventually for food bribes!
We have tried putting him in a darkened room for a few hours(!), and putting the pigs out of sight, but he can obviously smell them as he keeps looking in their direction.
He has been receiving a lot of fuss and attention, and lots of carrot treats. He is always with his companion, the non-dominant one who does not seem bothered.
The pigs can’t get anywhere near him, and have never shown any particular interest in any new arrivals in the past, so I doubt they would be interested in the llamas especially now.
I haven’t been able to find any particular reference to this problem on the internet anywhere.
Apologies for the long preamble.
It is horrible to see him when agitated like this and I wondered if you might have any suggestions either for calming him down in the short term, or for integrating him with the pigs in the long term. As I say, the pigs will most definitely not be a problem, and will just ignore him – unfortunately they do move quickly and make rather a lot of noise, which disturbs him. Because of the layout of our land, long-term wide separation is not a viable solution, and he would in any event be able to see them.
Is there any Pavlovian kind of way to associate pigs with some kind of treat?!
On the plus side he has been here for a week and he does seem to be showing a very slow improvement, but it's very slow.
I would be most grateful if anyone were able to offer any kind of advice
Many thanks


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Post  Brookfieldllamas on Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:16 am

I do know from experience with horses that they too are afraid of pigs, and it does seem to be the smell that is most scary. My 'afraid of nothing' gelding raced past some pigs in a field once as though his life depended on it! However, I also know of people (our neighbours and our hoof trimmer) who own pigs and horses and both share the same field! But, it took a while to get the horses used to the pigs! The behaviour you describe is similar to what we see when a hot air balloon goes over our land -they tend to be low and noisy and scare the llamas so they call their alert scream and like you say race around with their heads down and tails curled over their backs.
I think that you are probably doing the best you can under the circumstances and that it will just take some time for your llama to realise that they are not so scary after all! As he becomes more comfortable, you can gradually desensitise him to the pigs by taking walks to see them, and bringing him gradually nearer to them. If he gets worried retreat to a "safer" spot and chill (with a carrot), then try again. This advance and retreat type training works well when trying to train llama, eventually he will walk past them without even noticing they are there!
Hope this helps!!


Number of posts : 19
Registration date : 2010-05-27


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Post  Robert Dewar on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:03 am

Several of ours don't like pigs. I expect none of them like them, but what we discovered was that it was the temporary 'top llama' who kicks up a fuss as he is protecting the rest. We've attended shows with a herd leader plus several other llamas. The herd leader repeatedly makes alarm calls on seeing pigs. Because he is making the call the others don't need too. Yesterday a middle ranking and low-ranking llama were together and saw a new pig our neighbour has acquired. Both have been to shows before where there have been pigs and have allowed the herd leader to take the lead in objecting to the pigs. But with no herd leader the middle ranking llama was the temporary herd-leader and for the first time became agitated on seeing the pigs.
Llamas are pretty clever and will learn that a 'bad' thing isn't bad if it doesn't harm them.
We expect the excitement to die down within a week and I don't feel that long term exposure will breed anything other than acceptance of the pigs by the llama quite quickly.

Robert Dewar

Number of posts : 19
Registration date : 2009-01-03

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