Coyotes can be a real problem for livestock and pets. Growing up in Arizona, we lost many pets to coyotes and other predators. And since coyotes are here in Utah, too, as I’m researching alpacas for our homestead, I can’t help but wonder – are alpacas safe from coyotes?
Fully-grown alpacas are generally safe from coyotes and may chase off small predators (like coyotes) to protect their herd. The herd can be comprised of alpacas or other animals like sheep. Baby alpacas, however, may be targeted by coyotes and therefore need extra protection from predators.
Ready to keep your alpacas (and their herds) safe? Keep reading – and see what you need to do in order to keep your livestock safe from coyotes and other small predators.
How and When Alpacas Are Safe from Coyotes
Generally speaking, fully-grown alpacas can hold their own against a single coyote. Alpacas use their long legs, hooves, teeth, vocalization, and spitting skills to keep coyotes and other small predators away from their herd – actual or adopted.
In fact, there are many farms worldwide that use alpacas specifically as a guard animals against smaller predators (like coyotes) for their herds of sheep.
Here is one such sheep farmer and how their alpaca holds up against a coyote in a YouTube video (link opens in new window). Spoiler alert: the coyote doesn’t eat any sheep and leaves hungry – and the alpaca saves the day.
However, there are still some times when your alpacas will need some protection from coyotes – especially if we’re talking about more than a single, hungry coyote.
If you want to read more about alpacas protecting sheep and lambs, then you’ll want to read my full article on it right here. I do mention coyotes in that article, though it’s not as detailed as it is here.
Do Coyotes Bother Alpacas?
Based on my research, a single coyote annoys and mildly bothers a capable alpaca. However, the alpaca can generally chase off the irksome coyote.
You again? Really? Didn’t I just chase you off? You can’t eat my herd buddies. *Charge!*Me, imagining what an alpaca is thinking when a coyote approaches their herd.
But that’s all it is – bothersome. It doesn’t become deadly until the coyote either manages to surprise the alpaca – which isn’t terribly likely unless there are other safety issues that need to be addressed OR there’s super-bad weather.
So let’s talk about when alpacas need extra help staying safe from coyotes.
When Alpacas Need Protection from Coyotes
In the case of a pack of coyotes or abnormally large coyotes, your alpacas will need some additional protection beyond just their own legs, teeth, and spit. Your alpacas will also need extra protection if there are any baby alpacas, called cria, in the herd.
This is because predators are naturally drawn to the smallest and weakest members of the herd. So if they can, that’s who they’ll target.
In fact, here’s a YouTube video about an alpaca farm that’s being targeted by a pack of coyotes – and lost several crias to coyotes. I think it’s worth noting, too, that the alpha coyote in this case was mentioned to be almost double the usual size of a coyote.
So not only are these alpacas dealing with multiple coyotes, but they’re also trying to scare off larger-than-normal coyotes. And from the sounds of it, this pack of coyotes is less scared of humans than the usual, lone coyote is.
In my experience, a single coyote won’t stick around if there are people around – no matter how tasty the potential prey looks. So there are a lot of worrisome things going on in this story that we can learn from.
Adult alpacas can usually handle a single small predator. However, if any of these additional issues come up, they’ll need additional help in staying safe.
- Multiple predators versus a single predator.
- Larger-than-normal predators.
- Predators who are less scared of humans or signs of civilization.
- Babies or smaller, weaker herd members are present in larger quantities than normal.
- Inadequate fencing to keep predators out of the pasture or paddock.
- Inadequate access to a protective shelter.
- Once livestock has been killed, then the risk of a repeat performance increases dramatically.
- Weather issues prevent the alpaca from properly protecting the herd. Alpacas don’t like to be out in the rain. You can read about alpacas and how much they like water (including rain) in my article right here.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a follow-up story to the YouTube video. I hope the family was able to address their coyote problem, especially since the news story originally aired in 2013. And based on my research and experience, a few easy fixes should help them deter coyotes from targeting their alpacas in the future. We’ll get into those findings next.
How to Protect Alpacas from Coyotes and Other Predators
Ready to keep your alpacas (and any other livestock they’re protecting) safer from coyotes? Let’s dive into things – starting outside of your fence as a coyote would.
- Natural, local predators – what kind of local predators are in your area? This will affect your overall preparations.
- Fencing – What kind of fencing do you have installed? Will it deter predators? Will it deter smaller predators like coyotes? Could the predator jump right over your fence?
- Livestock – what animals are living inside of the pasture?
- Predator bait – are there any livestock or other animals that are irresistible to predators? We’re talking about animals that are smaller, weaker, or sicker – and most especially baby animals.
- Escape routes – do your animals have a secured shelter where they can get away from the predators?
- Guard animals – are there dedicated guard animals (besides the alpaca) to deter the predators and guard the herd?
- Lights, cameras, action! – Do you have lights or cameras set up that activate with motion?
- Ask an expert – talk to your local agricultural extension to get area-specific ideas on what you can do to better protect your livestock.
These are questions and things to think about for any animals you add to your homestead – alpacas or otherwise. And it’s important to remember that these answers will vary for different animals – even if you haven’t moved.
For example, here’s how my backyard homestead looks as I go through that list for several of our animals.
|Natural Predators||Coyotes, dogs||Coyotes, dogs||Coyotes, dogs, raccoons, muskrats|
|Fencing||Welded pasture fencing surrounded by a 6-foot tall vinyl fence||Welded pasture fencing||Welded pasture fencing and a run lined with chicken wire|
|Nearby livestock||Goats and chickens||Alpacas and chickens||Alpacas and goats|
|Predator bait||The smaller livestock||The chickens||They’re currently it|
|Escapes||Our still-theoretical alpacas would have a 3-sided shelter||Small goat shelter||Chicken coop in a run with an automatic door|
|Guard animals||Maybe our dog||The alpacas and maybe the dog||The goats and alpacas and maybe the dog|
|Lights and Cameras||Our backyard has motion-triggered lights and a camera system.||Got it covered.||Still got it covered.|
|Ask an expert||Our local extension recommends good fencing as the first line of defense.||The odds of a coyote attack in our neighborhood are fairly small.||The risk of coyotes goes up further into the farmland.|
So depending on how your backyard homestead is set up, you may not need to worry about coyotes getting to your alpacas. We’re in a uniquely lucky situation – while our backyard has a mix of welded pasture fencing and chain-link fences, our neighbors all have 6-foot-tall vinyl privacy fences. So we benefit from double fences. And that gives us an added measure of security against coyotes. It’s probably overkilled. But I like the extra security it offers – especially since we don’t have to maintain the vinyl fences!
As you build your own backyard homestead, make sure you’ve got security measures in place. And then add in redundancies – that way, if one security measure fails, you’ve got backups in place to keep your herd safe. Our main redundancy is all of those fences and then the motion-triggered lights.
Then, if your alpaca does have to face off against a coyote or other small predator, they’ve got all the support they need to successfully fend it off and protect your backyard herd.
Now, if you’re wondering how alpacas hold up against other predators, make sure you go read this article I wrote next: Alpacas, Llamas, And Predators: The Complete Guide.
Do Alpacas Get Along with Dogs? Alpacas generally do not care for dogs unless each animal has been trained and acclimated to each other. For more information on keeping dogs and alpacas, read my article titled, “Are Alpacas OK with Dogs?”
Do Alpacas Protect Sheep? An alpaca may protect sheep if it adopts those sheep as its herd. For more information on protecting your flock of sheep with a guard alpaca, read my article on how alpacas guard sheep and lambs here.
Do Alpacas Like to Be Petted? Alpacas may tolerate being petted if they are familiar with you. They may like being petted by their family. For more information on petting alpacas, read my article on it here.