Re: Baaaad puns and robolambs

From: James Rogers (
Date: Sun Jan 07 2001 - 14:39:56 MST

On Sat, 06 Jan 2001, you wrote:
> Nowthen, seems to me like we could develop a robolamb
> or robocalf which would look just like the carbon based
> variety, and act like it too: it would wander alongside the
> herd, bawling like an orphan. But with an important difference:
> the robolamb would have built-in image recognition, and
> would be able to figure out when the wolf pack was closing
> in! The robolamb would bleat helplessly until the big bad
> wolf came in for the kill, at which time it would turn to
> face the approaching attacker and give the stalking
> carnovore a snoot full of double ought buck.
> The farmers would love such a device! Especially if the
> image recognition software in the robolamb became
> sophisticated enough to distinguish between wolves and
> humans.

Ranchers already have such a device, that is both cheaper and more
effective: llamas.

The use of llamas in sheepherding in the U.S. is only a couple decades
old, but has done very well. A substantial fraction of sheep flocks now
have a couple llamas thrown in. You see lots of llamas in Montana, Idaho,
and similar sheepherding places in the Pacific Northwest.

The advantages of a llama are:

1.) They require zero maintenance and can survive just about anywhere.
2.) They have an inexplicable paternal instinct for sheep.
3.) They have superior natural sheepherding abilities and will keep the
flock together as well as any sheepdog.
4.) They will viciously and aggressively attack any canid that approaches
the flock (wolves, dogs, coyotes). With their height, they can identify
threats a long way off.
5.) They are cheap, only costing a few hundred dollars.

By a strange coincidence of nature, llamas appear to be the ultimate sheep
tending mechanism, as they will integrate themselves with the flock and
have a natural tendency to herd and protect them. Apparently wolves and
coyotes do poorly against the llamas as they are relatively large and
capable of much more violence than sheep. The downside is that sheepdogs
can end up on the receiving end of that violence, so you have to keep them
clear of the llamas.

-James Rogers

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