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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.

 

Grazing

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.

Ryegrass Staggers

Water

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.

Housing

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.

Fencing

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.

Transporting

Llamas 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.

Fighting teeth

Between the ages of two and three, males start developing curved and very sharp upper and lower fighting teeth, which can cause serious damage when fighting with other males or on an uncooperative female. These teeth are removed easily by your veterinarian, using a light sedation and obstetrical wire to saw them off just above gum level.

Removal Of Fighting Teeth

Halters

A 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.

Vaccination/Worming

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

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.

Toenails

Hazards

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.

Plants Poisonous to Llamas

Heat Stress

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.

Warm Weather Care

Castration

From about 18 months or when they have reached skeletal maturity.

Equipment

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.

Fibre

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.

Llama Fibre

Shearing

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.

Shearing

Dung

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.

Noises

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

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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E-mail:   julie@llamas.co.nz

 


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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