AUGUSTA, Ohio - Dogs, which have long been used to guard and herd livestock, are taking a back seat to a rather unusual, exotic animal.
The llama, a member of the camel family and generally used as a beast of burden, is finding its place on farms and ranches as a sentry animal. According to the International Llama Association, llamas make effective and economical guard animals because they require no training and are highly intelligent, easy to care for and maintain good health. Approximately 50,000 llamas exist in the United States and Canada.
"It's a new phenomenon that has been building for some time," said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension agent and statewide sustainable agriculture coordinator. "Using llamas as sentry animals can be a less expensive alternative to dogs."
About 12 dozen Ohio llama and alcapa (related to the llama) breeders will be on hand at the 8th annual Country Living Field Day in Augusta, OH on Sept. 29 to introduce the alternative farming tool to visitors. New to the field day this year, the Belden and Blake Llama and Alpaca Area will feature scheduled seminars, demonstrations, hands-on activities, displays and llama and alpaca breeder exhibits.
Country Living Field Day, free to the public, will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is considered the largest small farm educational program in the U.S. Last year approximately 4,600 participants from 53 Ohio counties and 14 states attended the event.
Hogan said the purpose of event is to provide small-scale farmers an idea of how to utilize their land productively to provide diverse products to Ohioans while at the same time increase their profits. "A farmer may have just a few acres of land and may want raise beef cattle or grow blueberries on that land," he said. "This event gives him dozens and dozens of ideas in one place that he can take home with him and apply to his farm."
Nearly 30 introductory seminars will be offered at the event on such topics as pasture-raised poultry, yellow perch production, forest management, pond construction and management, maple syrup production, beef cattle production and marketing, hydroponics, managed grazing, mushroom production, alternative energy sources, growing and marketing garlic, growing herbs, raising rabbits, growing berries, barn restoration, beekeeping, tree fruit production and grape production.
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts from Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson Counties and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will be presenting information about natural resources; the Carroll County Farm Marketing Association will conduct a farmer's market; and there will also be antique farm equipment displays, a children's activity area and farm and home health and safety exhibits.
Country Living Field Day will also feature keynote speakers, in-depth workshops and a mock farm accident rescue demonstration.
For more information or directions to the event, contact the Carroll County OSU Extension office at (330) 627-4310 or visit the website at http://carroll.osu.edu/countryliving.html.