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This site is intended to provide the sharing of experienced and information.
Take what you can use ..... leave the rest.
Information on this site is not guaranteed to be current or accurate.
Always consult your personal veterinarian for an ill llama or alpaca!


If you'd like to participate, please send us your questions, experiences, or comments ...
Feel free to add a second or third reply to any of the questions below.
The most recent question and replies are at the top.

QUESTION:  How do you tell if a  llama is pregnant?

RE:  If the llama is pregnant, she is not receptive to any male llamas and will spit at them and run from them immediately.  She won't want any males near her at all.  This is called behavior testing.
The second way is to draw blood and do a progesterone test - 21 days or more after she's been bred.  If the progesterone level is high, she most likely is pregnant.  There could be some cases where she wouldn't be, but most often this test will confirm.
The third way is to have a vet do an ultrasound on the llama.  Your vet should be able to see a fetus.

QUESTION:   I wanted to train my lama to pull a small light weight cart, my question is, what kind of road conditions should I avoid, example if I am on a paved road, and its hot should I not stay on the paved road? Do their feet get hot? I live in the desert and the pavement can get pretty hot. Is their some kind of covering for their feet? Boots or shoes? The land is very rocky and to get from a to b it is easier to travel on the road.   Cindy

RE:  If the road is very hot pavement, I would try to avoid it.  Even with their thick padded feet, I would assume that really hot blacktop pavement would be quite uncomfortable.  I don't know of any boots or shoes, but it may be a good idea.  Maybe you could work up something for their feet.

QUESTION:  Is there anything that can be given to alpacas to chew on to help keep there teeth from getting too long. I would like to avoid grinding the teeth down if possible?     John

RE: Not that I've ever heard of.  Even if there was, it probably wouldn't help the front teeth anyway - just the back molars.  In my experience, it seems as if they have a good bite to begin with, the teeth don't seem to get too bad in their older years.

QUESTION:   I started out with a single intact male about 2-3 yrs old just guessing.  I picked him up at the sale barn with no information about him. He was getting aggressive so I began educating myself. I got him gelded and then found him a companion that just happened to be a female. He is always mounting to breed her. We just left things as are. Then a few years later I found another male/female pair at the sale barn about 2yrs old. My first pair are several years old. I know the males will fight and they are separated till I decide what I need to do. Also I have no idea if he has his fighting teeth yet but will be going to the vet next week and get that taken care of.
   I want to raise some cria's and if there are any males I will have them gelded young so I don't have the same trouble. I don't know if I keep the new male intact can I still put it with the gelded male that is always breeding the female?
    Would it be wise to keep the two males together, separated from the females and only put the intact male with the females when it's time to breed?  And the other option is that it might just be more of a headache to keep the intact male. So if I sold him, do people take their llamas for breedings like same as for horses or dogs on a stud farm?
    With geldings like mine that still mount and breed, are they safe to leave in a pen with new born cria's?
    I know I've started out on the wrong foot but I'm trying to make it right. Seems there's alot of intact males that go thru the sale barn that should have been gelded young and were left alone to become aggressive and a nuisance and that's what I've ended up with. Not sure what to do with what I already have and I plan to not let that happen here if I have baby males come along. All advice is sure appreciated. Thank you........SunRise Corral

RE: I agree you've kinda started out on the wrong foot by purchasing animals from a sale barn and animals that you know nothing about.  These animals are probably being dumped and you may now have problem animals.  On the other hand, you may have given some animals a good home and good care that they may not have had in the past.  I would always recommend purchasing animals from a breeder who can give you the history of the animal and provide you with proper care information.

With that being said, you now have two males, one gelded and one intact, and two females.  The males can most likely be kept together and will probably get along with just some normal boy play - not serious fighting.  Or the intact male can be kept separate and the gelding can get along in with the females.  However, if the gelding is trying to still breed the females, he should not be kept in with them as he will cause medical problems to the females from the frequent breedings.  Actually, I would strongly suggest that you geld the intact male also.  If you ever want to breed your female, you can take her to a farm where there outside breedings are offered.

If you want to have a cria, I strongly suggest that you know that the animals you are breeding are not going to produce more problems.  Know your animals and breed carefully.  Know why you want to breed and that you can care for all these animals properly.

It is recommended that males be gelded at about the age of two however some vets say that after one year of age is acceptable also.  Fighting teeth appear at about the age of two also and should be removed.

If you have an aggressive animal, probably due to overhandling when young, I would highly recommend that you watch him carefully when you are around him.  These males can be very dangerous and cause serious injury.  It's really too bad that someone will put this type of animal in a sale and pass on unknown dangers to a buyer just trying to give the animal a good home.  In reality, it would be best to have the vet euthanize an aggressive animal rather than pawning it off on someone else.

Having llamas in your life can be very rewarding - they are great pets and companions and can also provide you with much enjoyment and many other uses.  Read all you can about their characteristics, behaviors, and training.  Only breed with knowledge and know that you can care and be responsible for the animals that you bring into the world.

Hope this helps and that you truly enjoy your llamas for many years to come. 

Perhaps you can help me.  This year I purchased a good quality hay from a reputable but new source.  This morning I found a piece of rigid insulation inside a hay bale. It looked like pressed cellulose with little hairs in it, with a foil backing.  I removed all the pieces, the hay on the ground, and checked a few other bales and I found nothing. Everyone seems fine.  However I did have one llama with a digestive problem (who is also fat, old and greedy:) a few weeks ago but she is fine now.  I did not find anything in the hay then and I scrutinize pretty closely.  Is there cause for concern?   Lydia 

RE: I guess I would have to say there's always a cause for concern about our hay - especially when you do find some foreign matter in it.  And there's always the chance of something being in there.  At this point, I would just suggest you keep an open eye on your hay when feeding.  Or contact the source of your hay and see if this was just a rare instance.  If your animals are all acting OK and eating properly, apparently there has been no harm.Hope this helps.

I was burning cedar in my pasture and my 2 year old gelding walked into the fire and rolled in the ashes and fire. Is this normal? I had to get him into the catch pin to remove the burning embers from his fiber. He was actually smoking. Thank you, Kathy, Texas

RE: Wow!  What these llamas won't get think of next!  Actually, I have heard of this happening - but I haven't seen it!  I guess the ashes look like a wonderful dust bowl to them.  Whenever we do any burning within a pasture, I make surethe burn area is well flooded with water before I leave the area unattended.

You'd think they would shy away from the fire.  Perhaps with the thick wool, your gelding didn't even feel the burning embers on his coat.

QUESTION:  I just had a 22 month old male llama gelded because my intact herd sire kept attacking him.  How long will it take for the "Gelded" effect to work so the intact male no longer is annoyed by him.  My intact male runs with a herd of seven females and I would like the gelding to join them. Chet

RE: You've presented a tough question.  Your intact male is only protecting his territory and attacking another male is a normal behavior.  Sometimes more than one male can share a pasture, but not likely when in with females.
You should allow the gelding procedure at least three weeks to be sure your gelding is not able to impregnate any of the females.  Whether your intact male recognizes the gelding as a non-competitor or not will remain to be seen.  Some intact males may tolerate a gelding in with the herd and some may not.  They all have different personalities.

The gelding procedure is used more often to protect pregnancy and allow males and females to be housed together safely more than it is used to enable two males to run together.  If one needs to be housed separately, it probably should be the intact male.

Hope this helps,

QUESTION: Hi! We obtained four llamas which have to be sheared, and the shearer wants the animals to be tranquilized, where are they injected, in the neck or the hip? The vet gave us 4 cc of tranquilizer, do we give 1cc per hundred pounds?  How do we know how many pounds they each weigh? The shearer said they have not been sheared in about 4 Years.  I would appreciate any help you can give. Thanks, Angela

RE: Generally llamas are not tranquilized when they are shorn. They normally just stand there and allow it to be done with little resistance. Until you know what kind of tranquilizer the vet has given you, I would highly suggest that you don't just guess on the dosage or the injection area. Some tranquilizers can be very dangerous and can actually kill your llama if used improperly. You probably should talk with your vet more on this.

If the fiber is very matted and in poor condition that the shearer is going to have problems with, I would suggest that you take a lot of the fiber off with just a pair of scissors and then follow up with the shears. That might be less stress on the animal.  Sorry I can't be of more help.

 QUESTION: We have a male llama that is overpowering our pregnant female goats and sitting on them until they give birth prematurely. Have you ever heard of this? If so, is there anything we can do about it?  Thanks.  Barb 

RE: I have not ever heard of this except in the case that the male llama is not gelded. If this is the case, he may be trying to breed them. Any male llama that is put in with goats or sheep should be gelded at about the age of two.

QUESTION: We have had four llamas with abscesses.  In the recent two llamas the abscess is on the side of cheek or on the lower jaw.  The vet lances them and gives an injectable antibiotic.  The vet says we have to find out the cause.   I can’t think of anything changing.  Any ideas?  Thanks, Paula

RE: It has always been my thought that when an abscess appeared on the cheek or jaw, it was normally due to probably something in the hay making some kind of puncture wound which then got infected.  It seems very strange that you've had four animals with an abcess in the same area.  Have you examined their hay or grazing areas?  Would you possibly have any trees or bushes  with thorns or them that would be causing puncture wounds?  I'm assuming that if your vet is treating them, he's already examined their teeth for problems.  That would be the only ideas that I have. 

QUESTION: Hello: I don't know where else to go or who to ask and I remember using your instructions in helping a llama that has come into contact with the meningeal worm. I live in Centralia, Illinois, which is in Southern Illinois, 60 miles East of St. Louis, Mo. We have many, many, and even more white tail deer in this area. I became familiar with the meningeal worm this past March with one of my 2 year old females. I had been gone for a couple of days, and when I came home, I couldn't find her. When I did, she was laying in the pasture, looking like it was the end. I tried to get her up, but couldn't. Called my local Vet and he came a few hours later. He wasn't sure himself what the problem was so he took some blood and gave her a shot of banamine. The night before I called a woman in Central Illinois that raises llamas and she told me what it could be, which was the "M" worm. She told me to get the article that was published in the Llama magazine regarding the treatment of the Menineal Worm for Ohio State. I showed this to my Vet, and we did everything that was stated. Within 3 weeks, she was back to walking, but of course, not the same. But, she is alive, eating, playing and looking as normal as she can. She does drag her back legs when she tries to run, but then when she stops, she does get back on her feet. When she walks, she does walk to the side. Now, my question to you is: Can she be bred? Will she be able to carry a cria to full term? I was worried about her legs being able to carry the cria at around the 9th or 10th month. What else do I need to know? Or should I just let her graze for the rest of her life? Thank you for your time. I sincerely appreciate any input you have or any articles I can read. Phyllis

RE: I have heard some llama owners say that their treated M-worm patients have recovered fairly well and go on to live pretty normal lives. I guess the decision of whether to breed her or not would depend on just how easily she gets around and just how strong her rear legs are. Actually the disease Afected the control she has over her rear legs and not necessarily the strength in her legs. If  the M-worm experience hasn't left her extremely crippled, it may be all right for her to carry a cria. The decision will have to be yours since you know her condition better than anyone else. Hope this helps.

QUESTION: I recently visited a farm where a older lama was in with sheep to guard them. I noted that his lower teeth were so long he could not cover them with his lower lip. He also was clacking his teeth, but not in a mean fashion. The farmer said he has has him for 7 years and his teeth have always been that way. Is this normal or does the animal need his teeth shortened? Raymond

RE: This isn't exactly normal, but not totally unusual. Some animals teeth do seem to get longer as they get older. Other than looks, it doesn't really hurt anything unless they are so long that it interferes with their browsing and eating capabilities. Long teeth can really hinder them sometimes. The vet can easily trim these teeth down without harm to the animal and most likely the llama will be able to eat more efficiently.

QUESTION: What would you say a budget would be per year to support a llama?  We have a 1000 acres farm with a large Barn and shed area, with lots of tallgrass prairie grass.  What would you say it costs to buy a llama, more for a pet than anything. We are trying to put together a budget, of initial costs, and then yearly costs. and what equipment would we need, and do you know how much that would cost?  Thanks, Kristin

RE: Well, part of this will depend on what area of the country you live in and what your needs will be. But, for a general estimate .......  Your facilities sound great for llamas. However, with 1000 acres, I would do some fencing to create a small corral up around the barn to contain them if needed. And if you develop a herd, you could do more fencing to create different pastures.
Companion animals, or pets, normally sell for around $500. They are males who are to be gelded at around two years of age. Females normally start at $1500. You may find animals a little cheaper than this, but please be sure to purchase from a reliable breeder. If purchased at an auction, it may be an animal that someone is trying to dump for some reason and you may end up with severe personality problems or health problems. Then these animals will either end costing you a lot of money in vet bills or will end up hurting you. Llamas are herd animals and you should purchase two of them. Most breeders will also offer you a discount if you are purchasing more than one animal.
Llama feed will cost about $12 for a 50 lb. bag. You should only feed a llama one pound of feed a day. A male or gelding should only get 3/4 lb. You definitely want to watch their weight and keep it down.
You have lots of pasture so that's good. If pasture is gone in the winter, you will need to supplement a nice grass hay. Alfalfa is too rich for them and puts weight on. A square bale of hay should last a llama about 7 days. You can also offer a trace mineral mix formulated for llamas at free choice. A bag of this lasts quite a while as they only eat it when they need it.
Fresh water is needed of course.
Medical care is minimal. One CD/T vaccination a year and maybe 4 dewormings. You can do this yourself and each individual dose is low in cost. You can order needles & syringes, and medicines off the internet very reasonable. And they will last awhile for only a couple of animals.
Equipment -- other than some medical supplies to have on hand and some brushes for grooming, there is not much necessary equipment. You'll need rakes and shovels to keep the poop piles cleaned up. Buckets or waterers. Feed dishes. Pair of toenail trimmers. And you'll probably want to mow the pastures some if you only have two llamas. Halter and lead ropes which will probably come with the animals if you purchase from a llama farm. They will need to be shorn in the summer for comfort from the heat but you can do that with scissors if you choose not to purchase shears or electric clippers. You definitely will need some good powerful fans to install in their barn or shelter for the summer. Llamas are subject to heat stress and need to be kept comfortable in summer heat and humidity.
There is a lot of information on my website about caring for llamas. Check  http://www.shagbarkridge.com/manage.html

QUESTION: Hello.  I was wondering what you could tell me about Cervical Vertebral Injuries? I have a 3 year old female that I just recently noticed was walking funny. As I was checking her over (running my hands over her body) I noticed that her neck was crooked. She eats, goes potty, runs, rolls in the dirt just as she always has but is sometimes unstable on her feet. I have not been able to find much about this anyware and was wondering what her life expectancy is now and if there is anything special I should do for her. She is in the pasture with our 3 year old gelded male and they get along very well. She showed signs of meningeal worm earlier this summer and was treated with ivomec. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks! Annie   

RE: I can't tell you much about Cervical Vertebral injuries and I think you'll have to have an examination by  your veterinarian. However what you are describing does sound somewhat familiar to me as possibly the results of the Meningeal Worm that she experienced earlier this spring.

QUESTION: I have had llamas for 11 years. Once in a while we have had problems with hyperthermia when the summers are very hot and dry with a lot of stagnant air but not every year. So whenever I see the llamas even a little bit
breathing hard, drooling, etc. I increase the number of fans, wet down the short fiber belly areas, give electrolytes, etc. This year has been a real problem in the northeast for this. Also I have 2 lactating females with especially large frisky crias who have been especially vulnerable so I have had to give 2 of them banamine one time each. The thing is, some
times it seems as if they are OK when it is really hot and then when it cools off a little the next day THEN they may show symptoms. Why do you think this is? Lydia

RE: I can't really say why you are experiencing problems after it cools down a little. My experiences have been that problems occur during the heat. The only thing I can offer is that after the periods of hot weather like we've had this year without much relief, when it does cool off a little, the animals are a bit worn out from the stress of the long periods of heat. Also, do you mean that you give Bo-Se rather than Banamine. Banamine is a pain killer and can be used if the animal is completely down with heat stress. But just showing some light symptoms of heat, you would want to give Bo-Se in order to replace the Selenium and Vitamin E that is lost with the stress.  Hope this helps some.

QUESTION: We just had a beautiful baby boy llama three mounths old. My daughter was outside playing with him and fond a third toe.What are our options? Tracey

RE: Well, since you have just found this, it seems that it isn't causing him any problems. The additional toe is a deformity however and you probably should give serious consideration to not breeding these same two animals together again.

QUESTION: I just acquired two new female llamas. One is bred and the other isn't. The one that isn't bred is only nine months old and is breeding with my male llama. Can the nine month old get pregnant? Is it safe for her to breed at this age?  Thank you

RE: I suggest that you remove your male from that pasture with your nine month old female as soon as possible!! Yes, your nine month old may get pregnant and no, it is not safe and healthy for her to breed at such a young age. You should wait until she is about two years old to breed her and at that time she should also be 200# or over. Please do remove your male to another area.

QUESTION: I have a young female llama (about 1 1/2 year old) which I keep with a goat and a sheep (all females). She is very gentle and curious ,as a matter of fact she is the darling of the neighborhood, but lately I have
noticed a change in her behaviour, when I stroke her she sometimes get very excited and stand up on hers hind legs and jumps .At first , I found it funny, but last week she jumped on me while I was turning my back to her.  She does not seems to be aggressive but I would like her to stop doing that.  Does anybody have an idea why she behaves like
that and how I could train her to stop jumping ?  THANK YOU!  By the way I enjoy very much your website.   Isabelle

RE: Although it is not nearly as common in females, they also can exhibit aggressive behavior when they are not raised in the proper atmosphere. You didn't mention how long you have had her or whether she was handled extensively as a young cria, but by not having other llamas around her to keep her in line, she is obviously not up on her social skills. When raised with other llamas, they learn proper llama manners from each other. You need to discipline her strongly at every sign of misbehavior. She should not be jumping up at all and standing up on her hind legs is not normal behavior for a llama. It will not be very funny when she is 200 or 300 some pounds - someone could get seriously hurt. Use loud "No" voice commands and possibly bring your knee up into her chest if she is standing up in front of you. You need to stop this behavior as soon as possible. You can read more about aggressive behavior on our website.   http://www.shagbarkridge.com/info/aggressv.html

QUESTION: I just purchased 3 young llamas as pets from a game farm. The people that I purchased them from are not real specific as to what to feed and the amounts to feed. They told me 1 leaf of grass hay per day and about a small coffee can of grain per day per llama. Can you help me out here? I have been feeding them as much as they want grass hay (mainly timothy which I use for my horses) and 1/2 of a small coffee can of blue seal llama pellets in the AM and PM per llama. One llama is a 9 month old male, one is a 9 month old female, and one is a 5 month old female.  I contacted Blue Seal and they told me that I should have them on a growth formula sweet feed. Please let me know your opinion or point me in the right direction.  Thank you

RE: Depending on where you live and the conditions there, it is normally recommended to feed llamas only 1 lb. of llama feed a day - for each llama. You need to weigh out 1 lb. in your scoop or coffee can, and mark it for a measure. For adult males or geldings, you could reduce that amount to about 3/4 of a pound. You need to watch their weight for various reasons - the greatest form of malnutrition in llamas in this country is obesity. In addition to their llama feed, which is viewed as kind of a daily vitamin as it contains what balances out for a llama's diet, they can be turned out onto pasture. If you're in an area which has seasons where pasture is not available, you'll need to supplement their feed with a good quality grass hay. It is said that a square bale of hay will last a llama about 7 days so you can figure from that. Your hay needs only to be 12% protein at the highest - alfalfa is too rich for them as a steady diet and has other complications. It is also advisable to have a dish of a trace mineral mix formulated for llamas - offered free choice. And of course, always fresh water available.  There is more detailed information on our website about feeding and nutrition.  http://www.shagbarkridge.com/info/feed.html
Hope this helps.

QUESTION: Hello! I have 2 cria. When should I begin training them? What should I try to train them first?  How is a good way to train them? Megan  

RE: Start training them just a little when they are very young. Touching them all over, especially rubbing their legs and ears and mouth so they get used to you touching those areas. Put a little halter on them for short periods so they get used to it. After that you can attach the lead rope and get them to step forward with just a little tug. Take them on short walks along with the mom to get them used to walking with a halter and lead rope. They aren't so afraid when mom is there too. Do your training sessions often, but keep them rather short. Always end at a positive time and they won't be stressed. 

QUESTION: Hello!   First let me say that I enjoyed your website and found it an abundance of information! For that reason, I would like to ask you a question: I came across some limited information that I don’t really trust. It claimed that the reason there are so many llamas fetuses used in religious festivals in Peru is because llamas are usually pregnant with twins, but only one baby llama is born, so with the afterbirth there will always be the second fetus. I know that Alpacas almost never have twins and so I was wondering if you could confirm or rebuke this? It seems unlikely, but would explain a lot. Thanks!  Pete 

RE: I've never heard the information about llama fetuses being used in religious ceremonies because they had so many twin pregnancies. Actually twins are rather rare in llamas and alpacas. I have known twins to be born, but it is quite uncommon. And in all the afterbirths I've examined, there has never been a second llama.  This is almost as good a story as the one about llamas laying eggs!

QUESTION: For some reason our females have decided to start new poop piles all over the pasture. Is there any known product that can be used to put on these new places to stop this?? I have tried PDZ and this product does not work.   Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks,  Darlene

RE: Bad news ...... no suggestions of anything to put on the new piles. Unfortunately the females always seem to think they need alot of piles in their pastures. Sometimes cleaning an area up really good will result in a smaller poop area, but probably won't eliminate it entirely. I've thought of using one of those dog & cat products that claim to keep pets away from your bushes, but I've never gotten around to trying it. Maybe that would work. Maybe we'll get some more suggestions from other owners.

QUESTION: I have been to a lot of websites on the effects of acorns on llamas and alpacas and there is a lot of controversial information out there.  Some sites say to avoid them at all costs, some say they are ok in moderation, and yet some say there is no problem in camelids with them.  Can you either help clarify this or direct me to a good source of information on this topic?  Thank you in advance. Kevin

RE: I personally haven't had any problems with acorns although we do have oak trees around our property. To be absolutely sure, you should check some of these poisonous plant lists.

QUESTION: Hello. We live in northern Canada and seem to be experiencing foot rot with a few of our llamas. I read your preventative treatment with regards to the carpet soaked in diluted bleach. What have you found that cures this ailment? Or do you just never get it? Any help you could provide us would be appreciated. Great site by the way!  Thanks, John.

RE: We have experienced some foot rot during extremely wet weather.  The best treatment I have found for it is to apply Koppertox to the area daily.  This is a very drying substance and helps start the healing process.  If the foot pads are extremely effected and have some rather deep holes and are to the point that you can smell the odor of an infection, I apply the Koppertox and then apply Ichthammol, a thick tar-like ointment.  Then cover the foot pad with a waterproof bandage pad and hold into place by wrapping the foot with vet wrap.  You need to keep the foot as dry as possible for it to start to heal.  If weather is extremly wet, muddy, or snowy, it may be best to confine the animal to a stall until the healing starts.  This method has always worked well for us.

QUESTION: Hello. I've begun my life with llamas and things are going well. Even the birth of a new cria has gone very well. I'm lucky and want to continue doing the right thing for these kids. My question is in regard to llamas and their eating habits. Are they likely to eat/swallow something they shouldn't -- something other than food, for instance? I am curious as to how meticulous I need to keep their pasture and barn area. Sometimes I find things that have fallen out of a box on a trip I"ve made out there, or pieces of materials from the building of their fence. Is this something I need to be concerned about? Thank you for your help and for your great web site. Margaret 

RE: Although llamas are not scavengers, they do browse in the pasture grasses and possibly could swallow something foreign.   I've heard of llamas consuming pieces of metal or fencing and bleeding internally.  It's a good idea to walk your pastures occasionally and look for foreign objects that may be surfacing.  Especially after the freezing and thawing of the winter weather.  That seems to force things to the surface of the ground.  Another thing to consider is that pieces of construction etc. may cause injury to the foot if stepped on.

QUESTION: I would appreciate if someone could provide me with some information about the proper feeding of llamas. We just bought a young female , 6 months old , she is half llamas, half alpaca.  We also have a goat and I have started feeding her with with the same kind of feed (for goat and sheep) and hay.  I would like to know just how much we feed we should give her.  So far she likes it very much but I don't want her to get fat and at the same time we want to keep her in good health and is this kind of feed good for her? Thank you. Isabelle

RE: Nutritional needs vary depending on the area of the country that you live in so you need to develop a nutritional diet that is best for your area. In general, I would highly recommend that you get a llama feed for your llama rather than feeding her with a feed that is formulated for sheep or goats. Each species has its own individual nutritional needs and a llama's need is different than sheep or goats. It is normally recommended that the llama get one pound of llama feed daily. If it is a breeding male or gelding, you can feed 3/4 lb. daily to keep them in better shape. When pasture is not available, feed a good quality grass hay. Alfalfa hay is normally a little too high in protein and will also put alot of weight on them. You can also keep a dish of a trace mineral mix, formulated for llamas, available - free choice. You're absolutely right in keeping them slim and trim. You should be able to feel their backbone easily ...... your hand should drop off to the side at a 45 degree angle when you place the heel of your hand on their topline.

QUESTION: I just got my first two llamas. One has bottom teeth that seem too long. Do I trim them in some way? Kay

RE: Sometimes the front teeth protrude out when the llamas get older and it can interfere with their ability to graze properly.  And the back teeth can also get out of alignment and interfere with their chewing.  You can have the teeth checked by your veterinarian and he can trim them back if needed.

QUESTION: Greetings. One of our older llamas lost his sight on Christmas day. The vet has not yet been able to determine why. Other than his blindness he appears healthy: eating, bowel movements, hearing etc. We have confined him to a 10 x 10 pen in the barn with permanently affixed water bucket, feed dish and hay rack. The pen has a door that leads to the outside where we've made a small 10 x 10 pen so he can enjoy the unseasonably nice weather we are having. He comes and goes freely between the two and with each day gets more confident. In the spring we will fix a larger outside pen for him. We also walk him for exercise. Our goal is to keep him comfortable and safe and to make sure he has a quality of life. I would appreciate hearing from anyone else who has had a similar experience. Any info and/or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you,  Cathy

RE: You are to be applauded for the careful attention to this senior animal. I haven't had a personal experience with this but I have heard of people attaching a bell to one of the other "buddy llamas" to enable the blind llama to follow the herd. He'd probably be happier in with the other llamas. Maybe we'll get some other suggestions here. Good luck with him.
RE: I was reading discussions in your "over the fence" and had something to add to the blind llama question from Cathy.  I have a female who has been blind since shortly after birth (caused by infection of mother).  She is very attuned to where things are and where the other llamas are.  If I change a pasture configuration or something, I try to introduce it to her by putting her on a lead rope and "showing" her.  I have found over the years she figures it out pretty easily on her own.  She can locate all the feed dishes, and I don't put them in a set spot each time.  Windy days seem to confuse her...I guess sounds and smells are stirred up and can't be relied on.  Shiva is a great mom.  With her first cria I put a bell on him...quickly found out that wasn't necessary.  She responds to voice commands well also.  She has learned the word "fence" and will stop if about to crash into something.  She was used as a 4-H llama f! or a year and picked up doing obstacles quite nicely.  As you know it is all about trust, and she has learned to trust us when we ask her to do something.  Eran

Could you please tell me what I can feed to produce results in weight gain for my young llamas under 2 years old.  They are weaned, but do not seem to gain weight and I am worried about them being thin. Thank you, Genny.

RE: You didn't say what you were feeding them. Are you feeding them any type of pelleted or crumble llama feed?  Along with some good quality grass hay, a llama supplement feed should keep their weights just fine.  For weight gain in older, thin animals, I have had good success with shredded beet pulp moistened in water in addition to their regular diet.  Also alfalfa cubes soaked in water to soften.  I have also used Lixitinic, an iron supplement, to add to their feed for young and older animals - it has helped alot with weight gain.

QUESTION: I have taught my three male llamas to kush on verbal command and sometimes I ask them to go down on hard ground, for example in the shopping centre if small children want to stroke them. Whilst the llamas fold down quite readily for me, I  really wonder if I am hurting their knees? They seem to lack very little in the way of padding in this area. Thank you. Terry (UK)

RE: It's great that you're sharing your llamas out in public!!  You're right, they don't seem to have alot of padding on their knees, but I don't think you're hurting their knees by asking them to kush on hard ground - especially if it is only occasionally.  If they lay down regularly on pavement, you'll probably notice the fiber wearing off their knees, but it isn't hurting them.  Remember, they originated from the mountainous areas of South America, so soft surfaces and lush pastures are a luxury.

QUESTION: Do you know of a way or type of equipment that would allow you to grind llama manure up to make into fertilizer? Thank you! Darlene

RE: Yes, we use a leaf vacuum called Agri-Fab Mow-N-Vac. It can be pulled by a riding lawn mower or any other piece of equipment and has it's own gas motor. It has a fat hose that will vacuum up poop - just not real wet, sloppy stuff. It shoots it through a fan which pulverizes it into a nearly dry, very fine mixture. It has no odor and feels similar to a peat moss. We purchased ours from a Quality Farm & Fleet farm store. Here's a picture of the Mow-N-Vac.  You can see the hose kit accessory at this site:  Hose Accessory.   It's really great.

QUESTION: Do females exhibit any type of behavior that would let me know she is close to delivery? Lynn

RE: You should notice that the udder is filling with milk and also that the vulva is a bit swollen or enlarged and enlongated. The female will probably lay off by herself for a few days before delivery. When in labor, you may notice her visiting the poop pile often and straining - without any urination or poop. She also may be getting up and down and rolling some or possibly biting at her sides. These are all good signs. But, on the other hand, there are some that just seem to have their cria with no warning signs. They like to surprise you!!!

QUESTION: My llama lost her 10 mo. old cria about 2 months ago. Since then she has given birth to a new cria. The birth went well, we actually were around for it. Anyways, about a week and a half later we lost the baby. Our mother llama has been in good health, but about 3 days ago she has seemed to have lost her appetite. When I give her grain she will eat a bit or so and then be done. I have noticed a clicking in her hip which started two days ago. Then yesterday, when I was putting her in her pen, I noticed that she was draging her back leg. It was almost like she is getting paralyized. I would be very thankful if you could tell me what could possibly be done for my llama. I have already lost 2 in the last 2 months, I really don't want to loose another one. Thank you, Lori

RE: My first thought goes to Meningeal Worm. This is a parasite that can be spread by white tailed deer and affects the nervous system. First symptoms are often seen in the hind quarters. If this is the case, your llama will need immediate veterinary treatment. You can read more about M-Worm and treatments here. This may or may not have anything to do with losing your llama's crias. I would suggest doing an IgG on any future crias to assure they have a good passive transfer of the immune system.

QUESTION: We have an eighteen month old intact male llama. We also have goats of several ages and breeds. The young llama has started to chase the goats. He started out playing mildly, but recently has become rougher. Would gelding him assure this behavior stops? Could he continue to aggravate the goats after being gelded? Thank you, Brenda

RE: Your 18 month old intact male is probably developing his desire and interest in breeding. If not gelded, he may try to breed the goats and possibly injure one of them. He will be a much better companion and guard animal for them if he is gelded and most likely will not have any desire to breed them whatsoever. And he now is an age where he can be gelded.

QUESTION: Do you have any information on urolithiasis in gelded llamas? We just lost our not quite 5 year old gelding to this. He was not overweight, had free choice mineral, and water available at all times. Thanks, Penni

RE: Urolithiasis (stones in the urinary tract) is fairly common in goats and sheep, but not so common in camelids. And due to the urethra being smaller in males than females, this disease is seen in males rather than females. Stones are generally caused by an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. There is a proper calcium/phosphorus ratio that should be maintained in the diet of camelids - this can be checked by drawing blood and doing a CBC. Feeding the proper type of hay for your area and a supplement grain formulated for llamas can help keep the calcium and phosphorus ratio in proper balance. For example: Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and grains are high in phosphorus. When the phosphorus is too high for the amount of calcium, the excess phosphorus, which is absorbed into the blood stream from the intestine, is thrown away in the urine. When the phosphorus gets too high in the urine, it forms crystals which have very sharp edges and appear like tiny grains of sand. These tiny grains can pack into stones and plug up the urethra, the tube that takes the urine from the bladder to the outside. If the urethra becomes plugged from the stones, the urine often leaks out into the tissues, or the bladder ruptures. Since urine is toxic to the animal, the llama may die of urea toxicity.

QUESTION: I have new baby llama born 5 days ago, the first for our farm. When she was born, the tips of her ears, one more than the other, was slightly bent backwards. The tips of her ears are continuing to curl back, now almost to 90 degree crook. Is this a genetic defect that will continue. Will they straighten out eventually or should I tape them with cardboard or see a vet? Warren

RE: It's a good possibility that the ears will come upright by themselves with time. But, not to take a chance, I would suggest that you offer them some support as they grow and strengthen this first month just to encourage them to stay upright. Even with support, some ears do not straighten up. Whether it is genetic or not is really an unknown question - unless it is happening from the same animal time after time. I would guess that almost all farms have seen it from time to time. Sometimes the cause is the way the ears were folded in utero. More about Tipped Ears

QUESTION: I just bought two gorgeous llamas few days ago. They are adjusting nicely to new place. However, yesterday, I noticed that both llamas had their mouths open for about 30 minutes. The outdoor temperature was in 50's so it was not the issue of heat stress. I also noticed that their tongues were bit dry (due to long exposure of air in mouth) and they had leftover cuds in their mouth. Then after about 30 min, they stopped doing it. I d like to know why they did that. Thank you. Judy

RE: You're right, it's probably not heat stress. They probably just had a meeting of the minds over who was going to be "herd queen" for the moment. When they spit at each other or even just start to spit, they get a sour mouth which results in them standing there for 15 minutes or so with their mouths hanging open, lips dangling, and drooling like they've just disjointed their entire jaw. They normally will try to pick up some hay or straw to hold in their mouth to sweeten it up. Actually, I think it's just one of those behaviors to panic their new human owners!!! There are a couple of other "panic behaviors for new owners" mentioned on this page.

QUESTION: My 2 yr. old male's nose looks sore & crusted. His mom's nose is fine. Male is otherwise very healthy. Help me please! Arlea

RE: It would be difficult to determine the cause unless he was examined by your vet. It probably should be kept moistened and softened with some Vaseline or Desitin - or Vitamin E oil. One source of crusty areas can be mites. They can show signs (crusty areas and hair loss) around the face and you may see the eggs (or nits) on hair follicles. This can be treated with a shot of Ivermectin or Dectomax, but you should still soften the areas with a cream. To be sure of the cause, you should see your vet.

QUESTION: My female Llama fell of a clift in the ice and broke her neck and died. She has a male baby boy and I don't know what to do with him. The boy was born in November and is only two months old. Help!!!!! Shawn

RE: What an unfortunate and sad incident! Obviously the cria is not ready to be on its own, so you will have to do some supplemental feeding in order to keep up the cria's weight gains. You can feed it regular homogenized whole milk just from the grocery - not low-fat. He will probably take a full 8 oz. bottle 3-4 times a day, but if you feed him the last bottle late at night, you won't have to get up in the middle of the night. If he wants more than the 8 oz., it would be alright to give it to him. To add more fat to the milk, you could add a tablespoon of regular cooking oil. Warm the bottle a little, but not too hot. And for more nutrition, after he gets used to taking the bottle, you can add a couple of ounces of plain yogurt mixed in with the milk. It may be somewhat difficult to get the cria to take a bottle now, but you'll just have to be insistent and keep trying until he gets used to it. Once it takes the bottle, he'll probably go after it rapidly and the feedings won't take long at all. You want to be sure not to over handle this male cria as it may alter his behavior somewhat. If he gets taking the bottle OK, I would suggest that you make a substitute Mom using wooden saw horses (for the legs) with a board between them for the body. Make a hole in the center board where you can insert the bottle upside down so the cria can get it without you holding it. You could even put some llama wool over it to make it seem more real. This would enable the cria to take a bottle but he wouldn't associate taking it from a human. And you wouldn't have to stand and hold the bottle. You could even make spots for two bottles. The only other option is if you have another nursing female that will allow him to nurse also. Or if you could get a goat that would allow him to nurse.

For more llama discussions ....
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The information given here is not intended to be a substitute for qualified
professional advice from your own veterinarian.  The first advice is to
 always "call your vet".  Also, keep in mind that procedures vary according to
 different parts of the country and the specific needs of your animals. And different
 llama and alpaca owners have a variety of opinions ... what works best for them.

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