This article initially appeared in the April, 2001 issue of the Maine Llama Association Newsletter. The article has been edited to reflect our experiences since 2001.
Barnanalnia (barn-a-nal-n-ia) noun: An obsessive-compulsive behavior found in some llamas wherein they will travel one hundred yards from the pasture, past three communal dung piles, to defecate in the barn.
This winter we have seen a marked diminishment of barn poop. Upon review I see three contributing factors to our good fortune:
The last item is particularly notable. Prior to losing the bulk of the weight, this llama did not like to venture outside the barn during the winter. She also seemed to be particularly sensitive to the cold. Since losing this excess poundage she has become much more energetic, she no longer appears to be sensitive to the cold and her personality is much less phlegmatic. She also spends much of her time outside with a consequent reduction in barn poop.
For the new reader, we had acquired a John Deere Z-Trak (zero-turn radius mower) in late 1999 to help us with manure removal from our pastures. Periodically I have given an update on our experience with the Z-Trak for those who might be interested in finding a solution to llama manure removal.
Basically our observations can be summarized as follows:
It is not perfect ... but we would not be without it. The time savings are very dramatic ... what took a half day or more can be done in 15 minutes or less. This is particularly true during the months
a) when the pasture has stopped growing,
b) the temperature is above 25 degrees,
c) there is no snow on the ground, and
d) it is not mud season.
Collection results are very good and the ‘product’ is much like bovung.
During the growing season the collection process is quite different ... I tend to ride around with the deck raised but not locked and then dropping it down on the communal patches of manure. The height is quite critical ... almost to the point of scalping the ground. The collection material consisting of grass and pulverized manure starts composting immediately ... I have found it rather hot after just several hours.
It makes an excellent general-purpose field mower but it can be overwhelmed by high and/or tough grass. Wet weather can hamper collection success, i.e., the percentage of manure collected drops significantly.
Walker and Scag Power Equipment have similar mowers. If a zero-turn radius mower looks attractive to you as an aid to removing manure then I recommend getting on site demonstrations ... perhaps even having the machinery left for a day or two so that you have the time to develop the technique to collect the manure ... and to see if it works sufficiently well in your pastures.
We utilize virtually all the manure produced on our farm. Recently I had the opportunity to gain an insight into the problems faced by those with excess manure production. The snow accumulated from the various storms was about three feet deep and when I went to carry buckets with manure out to our orchard I quickly found that I was not able to move unless I put on snowshoes. Until I beat a path down with the snowshoes I had visions of a large pile of accumulating manure. This vision coupled with frequent requests from visitors, friends and others for manure have led me to create a page on our website listing farms which have manure available. If you find yourself in a position where you would like another aid to moving your manure, contact me giving your name, phone number, location and e-mail address. To see the listing page, go to: Sources of Manure
March 2010: After acquiring a more powerful tractor with a bucket loader one of my first tasks after a large snow storm is to open a path to our compost heap.
As a final note, if you went to your encyclopedia to obtain more information on Barnanalnia, please note that this column was published in the April issue of the MLLA Newsletter.