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pack horses or llamas?



Messages posted to thread:
flyingbrass 27-Feb-10
flyingbrass 27-Feb-10
flyingbrass 27-Feb-10
gasman 27-Feb-10
joe H2o 27-Feb-10
arctichill 28-Feb-10
joe H2o 28-Feb-10
royboy 28-Feb-10
arctichill 28-Feb-10
squirrel 28-Feb-10
squirrel 28-Feb-10
Skeeter 28-Feb-10
Skeeter 28-Feb-10
Skeeter 28-Feb-10
nalgi 28-Feb-10
Stillhunter 28-Feb-10
Forager 28-Feb-10
arctichill 28-Feb-10
Adventurewriter 28-Feb-10
Forager 28-Feb-10
Skeeter 28-Feb-10
Forager 28-Feb-10
John Haeberle 28-Feb-10
Forager 01-Mar-10
joe H2o 01-Mar-10
Beendare 01-Mar-10
squirrel 01-Mar-10
denny 01-Mar-10
CurveBow 01-Mar-10
craitchky 01-Mar-10
squirrel 01-Mar-10
denny 01-Mar-10
Bake 01-Mar-10
flyingbrass 01-Mar-10
denny 01-Mar-10
craitchky 01-Mar-10
Skeeter 01-Mar-10
Skeeter 01-Mar-10

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From: flyingbrass Date: 27-Feb-10
Pack horses or llamas for packing out elk?

From: flyingbrass Date: 27-Feb-10
We got both. My cousin owns several horses and bought some llamas lst year. He thinks his mare would be best because for a time he fed it in an area where he had to walk past our deer skinning pole/meat pole/bloody mess. We have never used them for pack animals. We can borrow panniers for the horses from a friend but could spring for some llama tack it they are really that great. As usual we got the toys but lack the skills and knowledge! LOL.

From: flyingbrass Date: 27-Feb-10
We got both. My cousin owns several horses and bought some llamas lst year. He thinks his mare would be best because for a time he fed it in an area where he had to walk past our deer skinning pole/meat pole/bloody mess. We have never used them for pack animals. We can borrow panniers for the horses from a friend but could spring for some llama tack it they are really that great. As usual we got the toys but lack the skills and knowledge! LOL.

From: gasman Date: 27-Feb-10
It depends on how rliable your horses/llamas are.I use horses and love them. It is part of the experience. You can ride them and pack them. You can't ride the lamas. Also,a llama can carry about 80lbs. An average sized horse/mule can pack 2-2.5 that if need be. I would do practice runs with each and see what works out the best for you. A buddy and I take one horse to ride and one mule each to pack. We pack in 50lbs each in a backpack so if we both kill we can carry our gear out and haul both elk out in one trip by leading our stock. It works great and we can cover ALOT of ground in a weeks time by either moving camp or riding to our hunting area. We have a light and very mobile setup.With llamas you could not cover nearly as much ground. That being said, you better have a system to take care of you stock and know something about packing/riding or the stock will be nothing but headaches. Good luck.

From: joe H2o Date: 27-Feb-10

joe H2o's embedded Photo

"Pack horses or llamas?"

Thats like saying "Chevy Duramax or datsun"!

Horses/mules don't spit on you either.

From: arctichill Date: 28-Feb-10
Decision should be super easy! Who the heck would want a Chevy?

From: joe H2o Date: 28-Feb-10
Alright, Cummins/PowerStroke.

I just had to get one shot in.

I guess it all depends on how much time and space you have to work with the animals. A good pack string takes alot of time working with them. I've never packed with llamas, so I can't bash on them. Horses and mules can be real knot heads at times.

From: royboy Date: 28-Feb-10
have packed with would need to pack with them and get them used to it or they wont perform well.50 or 60lbs max I would say.Hope to use my hores just afraid mostly!

From: arctichill Date: 28-Feb-10
There we go! Great options this time Joe. Great pic, by the way. I've never had the pleasure of using either horses or llamas as pack stock. I've ridden horses and mules, but have never been fortunate enough to own any for use as a pack animal. So far, all packing in and out has been done on my back. I live on a few acres that I bought specifically to work towards owning some horses. The challenge is, they are unbelievably expensive. The cost of the animals isn't so bad, but the infrastructure to house them combined with the feed and the vets and the trailers an so on? Not sure if I'll ever have the resources to live out my dream of owning pack animals, but because I can ride them year-round horses/mules would be my preference.

From: squirrel Date: 28-Feb-10

squirrel's embedded Photo

Llamas are just different than horses, what works well for one may not for another. If you need to ride to cover ground then go the horse route. But the liabilities of horses are the strengths of llamas. Horseys are big powerful beasties and that power can be dangerous unless well trained and managed, a lot depends on the person's skill level who is using the animal. Llamas are probably safer for the average rookie to use without getting killed in rough going, but if you're dumb enough it can still happen. Horses are very expensive to purchase and maintain, my llamas average under $150/animal/year and cost to purchase was from free to good home to $200/ea. (un-trained animals) In my opinion mixing the 2 in a packstring formation would be a disaster, different gaits and the horse would win the tug-of-war at great expense to the llamas health! Llamas are quiet and low maintenance in the back country, horses are not, requiring supplemental food, much more extensive tethering/hobbling/fencing arrangements. I've never had a reaction by a llama to a carcass, but can't say the same about some horses I've known. Horses are fast and you can cover a lot more country from a centralized base camp if the game isn't where you thought it would be. Horses can carry a lot more weight than a llama but the weights mentioned above are just flat wrong, mine can easily carry 100-120 lbs total pack weight in level country with a trail for as far as far as a person is likely to go in a day. Rough country with no trail is a different story of course. On numerous occasions they have packed a boned out raghorn on 2 animals 5-6 horizontal miles and 2K vert ft. up.

From: squirrel Date: 28-Feb-10

squirrel's embedded Photo

Trying to figure out how to post more than one pic at a time here, so far striking out!!

From: Skeeter Date: 28-Feb-10

Skeeter's embedded Photo

Llamas are cheap to take care of at home and on the trail. I have never had anyone of my llamas spit at me on purpose, I have been caught in the cross fire, they will spit at each other when aggravated, but never at you. I pack with mine all summer fishing and camping in the high country scouting and getting in shape, by the time hunting rolls around I would through 100 pounds no problem on any of my guys. Trained pack Llamas are great to have, really easy to train too, although it does really help to know llamas. nice looking critters squirrel The advantage to horses/mules is you can cover ground. I pack in set up camp then my llamas live in a meadow basically all week, while I go out and hunt all day.

From: Skeeter Date: 28-Feb-10

Skeeter's embedded Photo

I just make sure they have water otherwise I don't worry about them, they have plenty to eat and they won't tear up the meadow, very low impact.

From: Skeeter Date: 28-Feb-10

Skeeter's embedded Photo

From: nalgi Date: 28-Feb-10
I was hunting in the Tetons once and a guy shows up with 2 nubian goats! He swore they were the best ever, followed him like dogs. had little pack saddles and all.

that night the coyotes were coming down the canyon past our camp and headed towards the goat man. Next day while hunting we saw him and asked how the goats reacted to the coyotes. He said he unzipped his tent to make sure the goats were tethered and they jumped into the tent and wouldnt leave! So he had to sleep with them. We thought it was funny, but they did carry 30 lbs each

From: Stillhunter Date: 28-Feb-10
Nalgi, funny stuff.

I use to pack with llamas and realy enjoyed it. They have their advantages for sure.

Unfortunately here in Eastern Idaho I wouldn't leave llamas staked out like I used to. Too many griz and wolves looking for an easy meal.

From: Forager Date: 28-Feb-10
Both animals have their advantages. I haven't used horses, but I'm sure they are beloved for a lot of good reasons. I have used llamas.

The advantages of horse(s) (size and the ability to carry you out if need be) are obvious, and more power to 'em.

The advantages of llamas are more subtle, so I'll lay them out:

1) They carry half as much, but eat 1/3-1/4 as much. Less money and more room on their back for your food.

2) They are very low maintanance in camp.

3) They learn very quickly.

4) The "rollover" risk is much, much lower and they have soft hooves so if they kick you (rare), you get to kick back instead of going to the ER or a coffin.

4) They can be can be transported in the back of a pickup or trailers, even in cars in a pinch. They can even be trained to jump up into the back of a pickup.

5) There are places where you can get a good pack llama that you cannot get a horse. A seasoned pack llama can go basically anywhere a person can go without crawling. Unlike the horse, they are a mountain animal; they are native to the Andes, where they've been carrying loads for humans for about 6,000 years.

6) They attract game; I've used mine to lure in a bull last season. I don't know if horse(s) are as useful in this regard.

7) Male llamas are relatively "low emissions"; they drop a nice tidy pile of low fragrance beans in one specific spot in the field

So to recap: They are a true mountain animal, get excellent milage with low "emissions", are exceptionally reliable with good handling and can go places where larger stock can't.

Llama like a Datsun? Nope. The Llama's a Subaru Outback.

From: arctichill Date: 28-Feb-10
What a great thread! I would love to see a Llama jumo into the bed of a pickup. If I found a Llama that could so that, I might just let him sleep in the tent:)

From: Adventurewriter Date: 28-Feb-10

Adventurewriter's embedded Photo

Llammas are great....did horse once and it ended up being a horse tending trip not a hunt....all the above mentioned qualities are true from my experince. Don't judge them by these flea-bitten critters I had to drag uphill......ha....just kidding Squiril....

From: Forager Date: 28-Feb-10
Re: llama jumping into the bed of a pickup. There's a good photo of it in Stanlynn Daugherty's excellent book "Packing with Llamas".

From: Skeeter Date: 28-Feb-10
I don't have a picture but I haul two of my llamas comfortably in the back of my old full size pick up truck.

From: Forager Date: 28-Feb-10
Although I had fun singing the praises of llamas above, I realize I should add in just a few caveats:

1) By most accounts, llamas need to be conditioned (gotten into shape) more regularly than horses.

2) Not all llamas are created equal; there seems to have was a fair bit of mixing of pack llamas to alpacas (wool producers) in the past century or so. If I were buying llamas, I'd make sure their parents are good solid packers and that they come from that tradition. Of course, there are bad horses too....

That said, the animals I've rented from a top notch packer are outDARNstanding. I love those beasts. If I had a place to pasture them, I'd go buy three tomorrow.

From: John Haeberle Date: 28-Feb-10
Does anyone use the two together?

From: Forager Date: 01-Mar-10
I haven't heard of cases where the two were successfully put in the same string together. Sounds like trouble to me, but I'm just guessing.

(According to Stanlynn's book above) there are some cases the llamas and horses can be pastured together... in others, it doesn't work out and the llamas get beat up.

From: joe H2o Date: 01-Mar-10
Datsun/subaru........same thing

From: Beendare Date: 01-Mar-10
Dang Skeeter those are some stud looking llamas. Are those bigger than normal?

From: squirrel Date: 01-Mar-10

squirrel's embedded Photo

I've got some will jump in the pickup, although back when I had to use this (pre-trailer days!) I had a small pickup truck so it wasn't quite as high. Once we met up with a fella on a draft horse-huge animal- and Larry did not like that big scary horse, normally he was fine around them but he'd never seen one that big. We went a few miles picked up 2 hinds and came back to the truck. As we were coming up to the truck in the dark this guy on a horse was behind us and we could hear him coming, dropped the tailgate and Larry hopped in with both hinds still on his back- he did not like that horse-too funny. For 30 lb. loads this smells better than sleeping with goats!

From: denny Date: 01-Mar-10

denny's embedded Photo

I'm not suggesting Hoov n Mitch don't have any personal shortcomings but smelly isn't one of them.

Great companions for a sunny day in the woods and these two grew to be a couple of pretty stout packers.

From: CurveBow Date: 01-Mar-10

CurveBow's embedded Photo

A couple of friends met up with a guy in the Adirondacks hiking with goats!

My buddy was going to buy llamas years back for our hunts in CO. I told him to bring a big bottle of ketchup. When he asked why, I replied that one time when my kids were small, we took them to a local game farm. You know, pet the animals kind of place. Well, this big old llama spit a huge smelly goober right im my face. Heck, I hadn't even gotten near him. To me, it was an unprovoked attack! I told my buddy that I had sworn vengenance on that critter & his kinfolk. If he bought a llama and it spit on me, I was gonna shoot it dead with my 357 right there! :-) The big bottle of ketchup was for flavoring as he ate the beast....

My buddy retorted that he didn't care if he had to wear his rain jacket as long as they carried his pack!

Never did buy any....


From: craitchky Date: 01-Mar-10

craitchky's embedded Photo

My wife and I used llamas for our DIY elk hunt in CO last season. They worked out great, they were well trained, there is no spitting, the misbehaving animals are not put out for packing. They can carry about #80 each, so 3 llamas can carry out 1 boned elk. You dont need to bring any extra feed for them, you just stake them out in green pasture, give them water, which they dont seem to drink a lot of, and make sure they dont get any burrs under their packs, which due to their long hair, can happen from time to time. They do not mind being by horses, but horses do not like llamas, any time we came across, horses on the trail, we need to move off and down from the horses, this way they seem less threatning. I rented mine from Northern Colorado Llamas, very nice people, and hunters themselves. In my mind, not being an experienced horse person, this was the way to go.

From: squirrel Date: 01-Mar-10

squirrel's embedded Photo

Are Hoov 'n Mitch nuetered?? I played with some billy goats my friend had and made the mistake of bringing my hand up to my face and about puked! He told me to watch them and sure enough they'ld P right in their own face/beard, with their mouth open no less. Man they were disgusting little critters, the girls were fine though- must be a guy thing.

From: denny Date: 01-Mar-10
Yes, They are. I've never been around a Billy but from what I've read your description sounds about right.

Hoov n Mitch had it pretty good. Goat's are great packers/companions, but I would never leave them alone in a pasture in lion and bear country and now with my hunting area being wolf central the goats were gifted away and I carry camp on my back.

The llama's look like a pretty fair bet for guy's who don't have the property / resources for horses or mules.

From: Bake Date: 01-Mar-10
Can you pasture llamas with cows? If so, can they live on fescue hay with the cows during winter?

If that were the case, sounds like care for them would be a zero dollar proposition for me. I'd just pasture them at my Dad's.

Are llamas susceptible to predation by coyotes? They look a little big, and our cows never have a problem (the cows usually gang up and chase coyotes out of our pastures).

Can the llamas suffer through a hot humid Missouri summer?

I'm intrigued. Just ordered that llama packing book mentioned above


From: flyingbrass Date: 01-Mar-10
Thanks for the replies. Remember, we already got llamas so we won't have to buy or rent them. How about some info on packs/panniers and training as well as feeding. How much water do they drink and how often?

From: denny Date: 01-Mar-10
Bake I don't know much about llama's.

They have lost at least one and even a good sized bull to cougars around here in the past year.

A neighbor raises sheep and for years used a big old llama to protect them from coyotes? I don't know exactly how that works but I've heard of it before so I think they are pretty safe. His llama died of old age a couple of years ago and he has a big white dog "can't think of the breed at the moment" to replace it.

From: craitchky Date: 01-Mar-10
Around here, they use llamas to keep the coyotes away from sheep and other small farm animals. As far as drinking water, when we had them in the mountains, once a day was all the needed, and it wasn't much when they did drink. I think they are in the camel family, and use what little water there is efficently.

From: Skeeter Date: 01-Mar-10
Beendare: no they are regular size if not a little under average size, I prefer their build though, really stocky. Also I would prefer light wool versus long wool. Some long or heavy wool types can be great packers, but the short wools are much easier to keep clean, and seem to be natural packers. My first pic is a heavier wool llama, I shear him every spring so the wool is never a issue. The pic of the black one, he is short wool, as well as my remaining boys.

Bake:As long as the llamas can get to decent grass hay they will be fine, they will get along with about anything as long as they don't get pushed out of the way for hay.

Llamas drink about 1 gallon of water of day at most, depends on water content of the forage as well. At home I may see them drink this, in the backcountry it is not uncommon for them to not drink for 3 days, although it is offered to them once a day or more.

As long as they can keep cool they will do fine in the summer, humidity raises the risk for heat stroke, so if they are long/heavy wool shear them every spring, they are better for packing anyway shorn. If they are short wool they will never need shorn, just brushed.

I worked at Rocky Mountain Llamas in colorado for several summers through high school, and we trained, bred and sold pack llamas. My boss used to rent them, but not anymore. Llamas of Northern Colorado rent good packers as mentioned and shown by craitchky.

We sold the non packer llamas often as guard llamas for sheep, they don't hesitate in fending off coyotes, but a cougar could take one out. Llamas have a alarm call that sounds like a high pitched chuckle, when ever I have run into bears in the backcountry, this alarm call just about scares the crap out of the bear, and the bear tucks tail out of there. The llamnas don't mind elk/deer, never alarm at them.

From: Skeeter Date: 01-Mar-10
flyingbrass: There are several pack systems out there for llamas. popular ones are flaming star and sopris, especially up in the northwest where these companies are.

I use a Timberline saddle and panniers.

And Ollie Llamas Pack systems.

The timberline system is nice because it has two wooden cross pieces that you can hang a quarter on each side, although I debone now. you can tie all sorts of gear on it though.

The Ollie system has a saddle that fits a little better than the timberline, and nice big panniers. You can tie stuff smack on top of this pack, typically you don't want to put any weight right on the llamas spine, because of the way they are built, but the saddle has a gap that protects the spine and shift the weight on the sides.

Llamas eat only 2% of their body weight, they don't need anything fancy, just nice grass hay. My 4 llamas eat one and a half to two small squares of nice grass hay a week in the winter, and pasture in the summer.

The llamas are easy to train they learn anything in 3-4 repetitions, although they can learn bad habits just as quick. There are a lot of good packing with llamas books out there.

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Subject: RE: pack horses or llamas?

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