Home   Herd Sires   Dams   For Sale   Cappy's Place 
 About Llamas   Vet Corner   Llama Discussions   Barnyard Hints   Links 
 Youth & 4-H   Events   Fun & Games   Books   Gifts & Art 

About Llamas Basic Facts Management Characteristics Purchasing Breeding Birthing


Nutrition Shelter Fencing Cleaning Medical Needs

Llamas are extremely efficient, being both grazers and browsers. Easy to care for, their diet should typically consists of good quality grass hay (offered during winter seasons), pasture grass, and a daily feeding of only 1 lb. of llama supplement from your grain supplier. Avoid a full diet of pure alfalfa as the protein level is too high for llamas. Also avoid fescue in your pastures as it may cause poor milking attributes in your females. Pastures should be checked for poisonous plants in your area. It only takes an acre of land to graze three llamas comfortably. A trace mineral mix should be offered free choice which serves to provide added nutrients. Fresh water should be available at all times. Treats are not necessary and many llamas do not care for any additional items - their llama supplement is their treat. However, some breeders enjoy offering raw carrots, sweet potatoes, raisins, or other raw fruits and veggies as treats. Extreme caution should be taken when offering your llamas additional feed or treats as weight control is a most necessary part of herd management. Being overweight can be the cause of many other health and breeding problems. Feeding off of the ground will help with your parasite management. Feeding Helps & Nutrition.
Llamas are very adaptive to various climates, needing only simple shelters to protect them from the elements. A barn is always a nice home, but a three sided shed is also ample protection from the hot sun, rain and wind. When building a shelter, special consideration should be given to ventilation, air flow, and the ceiling height allowing the warmer air to rise above them. Special precautions must be taken to provide shade and air movement during hot, humid weather. The shelter you offer your llamas can be greatly helpful in preventing heat stress. Your llamas may often choose to be outdoors continuously when weather is moderate and do not need to be brought inside at night. They may intentionally remain outside even in times of rain and snow. Barn & Shelter Helps       Cold Weather Management
Fencing requirements will vary based on your location and the predators in your area. Fencing should be designed to keep llamas in, but more importantly, Predators Out! Generally, a simple five foot, woven wire fence can accomplish this economically and with minimal effort and expense. Board fencing is also suitable, but not as efficient in keeping predators out of the pastures. And young crias may be able to squeeze under the lower boards. Electric fencing can also be used, but some serious injuries have occurred. Llamas are able to jump these fencings as they have the ability to jump like a deer from a standstill. However, normally, llamas do not test your fencing and rarely jump out. If they do get out, they rarely wander far. Usually they just hang around and wonder how to get back in with their herd mates.

Females may be kept together in the same pasture with gelded males or with young male crias up to around 7-8 months of age. Another pasture is needed for young males while intact. Adult intact males will sometimes tolerate another male in their pasture, but there probably will be fighting and screaming from time to time. Danger of injury from their fighting is minimal if their fighting teeth are removed, but some males are so territorial that serious injury may still occur. More about Male Behaviors.
Llamas have discreet bathroom habits using communal dung piles which are odorless and easy to clean up. Best of all, llama manure is nutrient rich and a low acid fertilizer. A single herdsire male may only create one very neat pyramid type dung pile in his pasture - very often by the entry gate as a sign of marking his territory. Females use a community pile also but they seem to make various dung areas around their pastures. Cleaning must be done to insure a good parasite management program, but the frequency of cleaning may depend on how many animals are sharing the same area.  More about Manure & Composting.
Amazingly hardy and relatively disease free, llamas require an annual preventative inoculation program to keep them in good health along with a deworming program prescribed for your specific area of the country. Very stoic, llamas do not show many signs of illness until it is serious. Handling your llamas and watching your llamas' daily routine is your best aid to determining how your animal is feeling.

An annual vaccination of CD/T (Clostridium C & D and Tetanus) is required. However, your verterinarian may prefer that you give an annual 7-Way or 8-Way vaccine depending on other diseases found in your area. You may also want to inquire with your veterinarian about the necessity of vaccinating for rabies or leptospirosis in your area. Do not vaccinate your breeding females withing 60 days after breeding or 60 days before birthing.

A good de-worming program should be initiated on your farm for your area. De-wormers commonly used for llamas are Ivomec or Dectomax (they are the same), Panacur or Safeguard, and Valbazen. A fecal sample taken to your vet can help determine what parasites may be present. De-worming can be administered as a paste or liquid orally or as an injection. Veterinarians do not usually feel the pour-ons are as effective with llamas. Deworming may be done monthly or seasonally depending on the number of llamas that share the acreage, your geographical location, and your farm management. Cleaning pastures and barns regularly, feeding up off the ground, and fly control are some of the best ways for positive parasite management. Again, a word of caution for your breeding females. Do not administer any medication within 60 days after breeding or before giving birth. See more about Parasite Control and De-Worming.

Most llamas, except those with a very short wool, should be shorn before the heat of summer months. This is not only important for their own comfort, but the danger of heat stress is very serious to the llama. A trim barrel cut around the middle of the llama, taking care to open up the belly area (their thermal window) and their "armpits", is very common among llama owners and can provide the llama a way to ventilate built up body heat and perspiration. Those animals with extremely dense coats may need to have a full body cut if they reside in an area of high heat and humidity for long periods of time. During hot weather, special care must be taken to provide good air circulation with the use of multiple fans and cooling off with occasional sprayings with the hose. Signs of heat stess include staggering, weakness in the rear legs, reluctance or inability to get up, open mouth breathing, and panting. If these signs occur, the animal's temperature should be checked immediately and action should be taken to cool the animal down with the help of ice packs, hosing with cold water, fans, and possibly and complete haircut. Heat stress is very dangerous and precautions need to be taken seriously. See more information about Heat Stress.

Llamas have two toenails on each foot that needs to be trimmed even with the bottom of the foot periodically. Some may only need trimming 2 to 3 times a year. Walking on hard surfaces such as a concrete floor can help keep the nails trimmed naturally. Nails are easily trimmed with a nail clipper similar to rose pruning shears. However, since llamas normally do not like their feet and legs touched, this job is much easier if the llama has been trained and desensitized - something to consider when purchasing an animal. More information about Trimming Toenails.

Another point of routine care for llamas is the removal of fighting teeth in males. At about two years of age, males will develop a total of six extremely pointed and sharp fighting teeth - four on the top and two on the bottom jaw. These teeth can be dangerous to other llamas in their pasture - even during periods of play. These teeth can easily be cut off by your veterinarian. See more about Fighting Teeth

Here is a handy list of Medical Supplies to keep on the farm.

email Shagbark Ridge Llamas
Shagbark Ridge Llamas