The use of alpacas as newborn lamb protectors to minimise fox predation

Sara Mahoney, Alvaro Charry

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    Canine attacks on newborn lambs are a problem for sheep farmers, causing substantial economic losses to the sheep industry. Anecdotal evidence indicates that alpacas reduce the losses caused by such attacks when placed within sheep flocks. A trial was conducted at two sheep farms in rural NSW where experimental ' ewes grazing with alpacas - and control ' ewes grazing without alpacas ' groups, with replication within and across farms were organised with a total of 6,483 breeding ewes. Overall weaning percentages for each flock of sheep were tabulated at 14 weeks and evaluation of performance between groups was conducted using descriptive statistics. An inferential statistical t test for pairs was conducted to find out the level of significance of the difference in performance between the trial and control groups. Combined weaning percentage for the control groups was 69.8% while the experimental groups showed a combined weaning percentage of 82.6%. Assuming equal mortality rate because of natural causes among the groups, it may be concluded that the presence of alpacas within the lambing paddocks increased lambing weaning percentage by 13% with a = 0.025 (i.e. confidence level = 97.5%). The economic benefit is obvious considering that there is an increase of 13 lambs for each 100 breeding ewes that valued at market prices represent a meaningful marginal farm income.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-70
    Number of pages6
    JournalExtension Farming Systems Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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