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Care & Maintenance
Llamas are often touted as easy care animals. But this doesn't mean no care. All animals should be checked at least daily, to see that they have fresh water, adequate food, shelter, and receive veterinarian attention if necessary.
A single acre can accommodate two or three llamas. Llamas are modified ruminants with a three-compartment stomach; they chew their cud. They will graze grass and browse trees and bushes. Because of a relatively low protein requirement (about 12%), due to their efficient digestive system, they can live on a variety of pastures. They also like to eat hay and grain, and usually require free access to a source of loose salt and minerals, as not all llamas will use a salt block. Consult with your local veterinarian about any local mineral deficiency i.e. Copper or Selenium.
There should be clean fresh water freely available at all times. In the heat of summer it is advisable to have the water in the shade so animals don't have to go out into the sun to drink.
Llamas need shelter from cold blowing winds and driving rain or snow in winter and shade in summer. Their shelter can vary from a three-sided shelter to a barn or even a well-established stand of trees, depending on your local climate.
A standard four and a half foot fence of post and battens is adequate, especially combined with electric fencing, but no barbed wire. Keeping predators such as dogs out is a major consideration and a hot wire along the bottom should be considered.
TransportingLlamas usually lie down while travelling and remain in a kushed position until you have reached your destination. They can be transported in a van or enclosed horse trailer.
HaltersA correctly fitting halter is vital for the comfort and safety of your llama. Leaving halters on llamas can be dangerous as it can result in ugly calluses or ulcers and if the halter catches on something, a broken neck or a strangled animal.
Dependent on things like stocking rate, region and paddock mates your veterinarian would recommend the best worming/vaccination regime for you. At least annual worming (Ivomec injectable SC) and vaccination (5/1) is required.
Toenails left to grow long can cause lameness. Depending on the individual llama's nail growth, trimming may be 6 weekly or 6 monthly or only rarely. Llamas with their soft padded feet have low impact on their pasture environment.
Paddocks should be kept free of poisonous plants and hazardous objects e.g. glass, rusty tin, bale twine. Ensure the paddocks and shelters are checked for sharp objects such as loose wires or protruding nails. Tree branches should be trimmed to above head level to prevent any injuries. Be wary of forked branches that could cause a neck to be lodged.
Llamas naturally come from the South American Altiplano, which is high and dry. They do not handle heat and humidity as well. They need to be shorn in the spring and when it's really hot we cool them by hosing their bellies. We also provide paddling pools.
From about 18 months or when they have reached skeletal maturity.
Llamas have simple needs, a correctly fitting halter and lead rope, a pack with panniers and saddle-blanket for hiking, a set of toenail clippers, plus brushes and hand shears for fibre maintenance.
Llama fibre is lanolin-free and being hollow makes it lightweight and warm. There are 3 main fibre types: short, medium & long, with varying degrees of guard hair content. Colour ranges from white to black, with shades of copper, red, grey, beige, and brown. They may be solid, patched or spotted with a variety of patterns, such as pinto or Appaloosa.
It's not recommended to shear to the skin as it makes the llama
vulnerable to sunburn and sudden cold snaps. Hand shearing or shears that leave about 1/2
to one inch of the fibre on for protection, is preferable in most areas.
Males, especially studs, dung in piles. Females are less accurate but still use a communal toilet, which makes cleaning up the paddocks easy. Llama beans, when dry, are odourless and make excellent soil conditioner, either added to the compost or sprinkled dry as a slow-release fertiliser.
Llamas are often called our Silent Brothers but they do hum. Humming can have many meanings: excitement, fear, frustration or, Where's breakfast? Llamas also alarm call if there are strange things happening in their surroundings. They will also scream when fighting and the males orgle when breeding.
Spitting usually occurs amongst camelids in disputes over food or territory, seldom at people unless mistreated or undergoing a traumatic experience. A female may tell a male she is pregnant by spitting him off.
I have only briefly touched on these topics, I would
always strongly encourage people to further their knowledge from books (try Llama Book Store)
and other internet sites. I think it's important to consult with your veterinarian on any
special requirements of your region, or network with neighbouring farms on any specific
problems to be aware of.
Once discovering these elegant creatures, you can't imagine life without them.
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Julie Insley 38 Shirley Rd RD2 Kerikeri 0295
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Phone: 0064 9 4077 107
"Llamas with personality plus"
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