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LLAMAS 101

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017

LLAMAS 101

LLAMAS are a member of the camelid family. Other members of the camelid family are alpacas, guanacos, vicunas and camels. It is believed that llamas originated on the plains of North America about 40 million years ago. About 3 million years ago they migrated to South America. Lamas were domesticated about 6,000 years ago by the South American Indians. They were beasts of burden, known as “the ships of the Andes”. The Llama provided the Indians with meat to eat, wool to keep warm, hide for shelter and manure for fuel. They also carried their supplies up and down the steep mountains of South America.

LLAMAS are easy going and can adapt to a variety of situations. However they are very social animals and must have another Llama for companionship. Llamas are intelligent, peaceful, beautiful and very curious. They are easy to handle, easy to care for and easy to train. Llamas only spit when very upset and rarely at humans. It is usually at feeding time, at each other, to say, “Hey, that’s my food!”.

LLAMAS come in every shape, size and color. Llamas weigh about 225 to 400 pounds when fully grown. With proper care and management, you can expect your Llama to live for 20 to 30 years. They range from about 36 to 43 inches at the wither (highest point of shoulder). Colors range from black, brown, red, cream, white and gray. Or they can be a combination of all of these colors in patterns of paints, roans, appaloosas or solids. Their lightweight, dander free fiber ranges from coarse to ultra fine. There are uses for every type of fiber. Spinners find their wool a delight to work with!

LLAMAS do not have bad habits like digging, biting, barking or chewing. They are very quiet, but may let out an alarm call if startled, usually at a stray dog. They also hum if stressed. Llamas are very hardy and disease resistant, making veterinary costs minimal. They require a yearly vaccination and de-worming as needed. Toenails can be trimmed once or twice a year or as necessary. Our Llama’s toenails are done usually once a year when we shear them.

LLAMAS can be used for packing, breeding, pulling a cart, parades, therapy (they are proven stress relievers), pets, showing (some shows have cash prizes as much as $10,000!), 4H projects, wool, and many Llamas are used for investments. Llamas qualify for certain tax advantages. They may be depreciated and so can their housing and equipment.

LLAMAS are easy and economical to keep. Their pen requirements are minimal. A simple shelter should be provided to protect them from the elements. Llamas are inexpensive to feed as they have a highly efficient digestive system. They are a modified ruminant and chew their cud. A bale of hay will last a llama approximately 3 weeks or so. We feed grass hay with a little alfalfa every day. Pasture may also be fed. Free-choice minerals and a trace mineral salt block should be made available. They also need a constant supply of fresh water. Llamas form a community dung pile, making them easy to clean up after. Llamas should be sheared once a year, making grooming very simple.

LLAMA females can be bred at about 18 months of age or when ready (but not before 18 months). They are induced ovulators and may bred at any time during the year. After an approximate 350 days of gestation they will deliver a cria (baby llama). Birth normally occurs unassisted and during daytime hours. The cria will usually weigh somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds. Males are usually ready to breed at about 2 years of age.

LLAMAS are the perfect pets! At least we think so! Pets usually start in the $200 range with prices reaching into the thousands for premium breeding stock and top show animals. At certain times, we also have retired or non-productive females available for adoption at no cost.

For more information about Llama breeding. Click Here.

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