The straight scoop about breeding:
Guardian llamas

What is most essential about a good guard llama?

The llama must guard successfully without causing harm to livestock and human caretakers.

Who buys a guardian llama?

Livestock producers, usually to guard sheep, goats or poultry, but sometimes calves and foals.

One segment has heard llamas will guard and they usually pick one up from wherever is cheapest and most convenient — the auction, craigslist, etc.

Another segment has had success with a guard llama. They may try the cheap-and-easy route for awhile, but they aren't about to settle for any llama that doesn't do the job.

What do guardian llamas sell for?

Many people who want a guard aren't willing to pay much for one — they know that llamas can be found at the livestock auction for $20-50, and so even a guaranteed, trained llama for $500 sounds ridiculously high-priced to them.

The few livestock producers who know what a good guard llama can do will not blink at a $500 to $750 price tag — as long as the llama will do the job.

Guard llamas are not ready to be placed until they are at least two years old, and if male, they need to be castrated within the 12-18 month age range. Some of those still retain enough sexual interest to wash out as guards. Figure $150 per year for feed, $150 preventative maintenance expenses and castration, and $15 for a halter, and your minimum break-even price for an unregistered guard llama is $465. If even one llama get sick or hurt or if you transport the llama to the buyer's farm, or if you expect compensation for your time teaching the most basic skills to the llamas (allowing capture, haltering, leading, picking up feet, and loading), you're operating at a loss already. That doesn't include any washouts that didn't guard or decided sheep are for sex (and squishing).

Ethical considerations specific to breeding guardian llamas

Any particular llama's guarding ability must be accurately assesed before placement. Not all llamas are inclined to guard; still others may function as guards, but not against all threats

Any particular llamas that may harm livestock they are supposed to be guarding must be screened out before sale. Damage to livestock means permanent negative consequences to a seller's repuation. It can also mean a trip to court as the farmer or rancher tries to recover some of the loss.

Llamas that posess strong guarding instincts can, when placed in guarding sutations, develop misdirected territorial aggresion. This is particularly likely when the llama has received inadequate training to yield to humans or the new owner is naive about llama behavior. Such behavior can lead to human injury (and liability lawsuits). Llamas whose charges are kept next to a road or other public access may threaten or attack passers-by and incur lawsuit.

Llamas with strong guarding drives who are not safe with livestock and/or around humans have extremely limited placement opportunities.

Is there room for more guardian llama breeders?

At this time, we are unaware of anyone selectively breeding llamas for guarding exclusively. Although there is high demand in some areas, the suitable llamas are long-lived and so the market becomes saturated quickly — it cannot support a large number of exclusively-guard-llama breeders.

An additional complicating factor is that several facets of the guard llama personality are definitely not desirable for companion functions. Successful guard llamas who cannot be placed due to lack of demand will also not be considered desirable by those who want pets, show animals, or packers.

In the current market, there is limited room for guardian llama resellers who assess, train, and place both young guard prospects and older, proven guards. Sharp resellers will focus primarily (or even exclusively) on female llamas to reduce costs (castration expenses in particular) and keep their hypersexuality and hyperaggression washouts to virtually nil. Thus the availability of inexpensive female guard prospects in a given geographical area will affect the resellers' financial returns and long-term business stability.