Livestock Ownership for the Urban Dweller

Many of us yearn for a rural retreat; a farm of our own, where we can breed one or two stud llamas, alpacas, horses or donkeys or maybe have a commercial flock of sheep, or a herd of goats or cattle – but how do we find the time (and the money)? Where can we learn the necessary skills? And what if we make that leap of faith, and find that farming isn’t for us?

This is a toe in the water approach for the beginner or the city-dweller.

Young llamas and alpacas feeding and socialising in the yard

The Myths & the Problems

Maybe you just can’t afford to buy a farm or you haven’t got time to run a farm (certainly not until you retire). Perhaps your fear is that you’d never be home to enjoy your farm because you’d spend hours on the road commuting to work. Or maybe you have a farm, but you’re not set up for llamas yet.

You don’t need a farm to own and breed llamas. Agistment (board) is a real and easy alternative – An unusual solution? Hardly, hundreds of horse riders enjoy the benefits of city living and boarding their horse nearby – they have the best of both worlds!

What is agistment?

Agistment means “boarding” livestock.

The agistor (farm owner) must provide a fenced paddock, water and seasonal grazing.

The agistee (the owner of the livestock being agisted) is responsible to provide all the needs of his livestock other than fence and water. Usually, the agistee is allowed some measure of access, and may or may not be allowed to use the facilities available at the farm (ie yards, sheds etc)

Many llama agistees are hobbyists; some are investors, most fall somewhere in between. Hobbyists tend to regularly visit their llamas, some investors only see their llamas occasionally, and leave the full-time care of their llama to the Agistor. Alpaca Magic provides a unique service that we call “Agistment Plus”.

What is Agistment Plus?

Some llama breeders provide partial or complete management of your llama. This varies from keeping an eye on your llama, to regular handling and providing some (or the total) care necessary to keep your llama healthy and happy on a day-to-day basis. At Alpaca Magic, we provide general observation, mustering, mating, spitting-offs, birthing & neo natal care, supplementary feeding, shearing, vaccinating, drenching, toe trimming, supervising routine vet visits and emergency veterinary procedures etc. Remember, regular and gentle handling keeps your llama people-friendly.

Education for new owners is part of Agistment Plus. Learn to be successful and have fun.  We believe that education is paramount to the success of new owners/breeders as well as the well-being of their livestock and the ultimate success of the industry. For details of Agistment Plus, please download our fact sheet (PDF).

We run a variety of workshops and offer “on farm” training at Alpaca Magic for new and prospective owners.  We also offer Livestock and Farm Set-Up Consultancy and Coaching (prices on application).

How much does agistment cost?

Fees for agistment will vary from district to district, with the location of the agistor’s farm, the facilities available on the farm and with the amount of husbandry provided by the agistor. (Prices start from around $14 per head per week for basic agistment.)

Alpacas and llamas standing and grazing in the field

Why Choose Agistment?

Agistees range from short-term agistees “learning the ropes” to care for their own llama on their own farm, to long-term agistees never intending to give up the advantages of their city life-style. Surprisingly, some agistees even own their own farm, but prefer to have the peace of mind agisting their llama with a full time breeder.

If you keep llamas as a hobby, you’ll miss out on the tax benefits of llama-business, but you will be freed of the need to prove a profit-based motive to the ATO. If you do make a profit from your hobby, this should be tax-free!  If the ATO accepts your llama breeding activities as a business, you will benefit from deductible expenses such as agistment, vet expenses etc. (Check this out with your accountant).

Maintaining a farm is time consuming and requires dedication and money. There is always another job that needs to be done on the farm. By agisting your llamas, you can build up a herd at a fraction of the cost of owning and maintaining a farm of your own. All you have to do is spend your time enjoying your llamas!

Having your llamas in a large herd offers you the opportunity to learn about herd dynamics, about llamas in general and your llamas in particular. In this atmosphere your learning curve is not only very fast, but also very safe. Alpaca Magic is only too pleased to provide their agistees with ongoing education and support. This can be done in the field, or even just by regular reports by the Agistor, and discussing management options with the agistee.

What if there are no llama agistors in my area?

Agisting your llama with other llamas has many advantages, perhaps the most significant being that your llama has company. Ideally, the best company for a llama is another llama, and the best person to care for a llama is a llama breeder. Check out your yellow pages under “Alpaca & Llama Breeders”. If there are no llama breeders nearby, perhaps one of the alpaca breeders may board your llama.

As a compromise, you could purchase a different species to be your llama’s companion – say an alpaca, goat, calf, horse or donkey. Meanwhile if you have bought a breeding female, you are already starting your own herd!

As your llama will be keen to chase foxes; a sheep, goat or deer farmer may find agisting your llama of great advantage! Any ruminant that is to graze with or use the same paddock as your llama should be healthy and free of disease. Satisfy yourself that your llama is safe from other ruminant’s diseases. It may help to ask advice of a local vet.  Caution: Some horses are terrified of llamas, so if your llama is to share a paddock with a horse, get them accustomed to each other slowly in adjacent paddocks. It is always advisable to introduce new animals by running them in an adjacent paddock until both animals are “friends”.

Whether you share your llama adventures with friends and family, or go it alone, you’ll have an exotic, gentle and quiet companion as a focus for outdoor activities, getting back to nature, de-stressing and rejuvenating your body, mind and spirit.

You may chose to attend llama shows, knit or felt a llama jumper, make a llama doona, take photos, go carting or packing – trekking or picnicking. You may help others enjoy the rewards of llama therapy by visiting nursing homes, schools, fetes and promotions etc.

Whatever your chosen way to enjoy your llamas’ company, you’ll benefit from many hours of relaxation in the countryside, with none of the costs of owning land.

In order to protect the health of our livestock and agisted livestock, Alpaca Magic only agists animals purchased from us.


For more information about agistment, please phone Glynda on (02) 6230 3311 or send an email to: