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Questions & Replies - Page 2
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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.
I've got an 18 mo. old gelded llama who has been moved back to his original birth place to be
pastured for the winter. This Friday, the owner heard belching noises after she had fed the llamas
their morning hay. She noticed that "Gent", my boy, had spasms in his throat (observed by her) and
had a green slime coming from his mouth. He cushed for a few minutes and then got up and went
out to graze on pasture. It happened again on Sat. After discussion with a llama breeder, she took
him off of hay and is only giving him pasture and grain. This was advice from the breeder. The
breeder stated that some llamas have difficulty with hay and that some actually starve to death as
they can't eat the hay. One note; Gent never had these problems at his previous residence. Also,
Gent has not had this problem again since the owner took him off hay. Judith
Sometimes when an animal has suffered "choke" or irritation, it's
best to keep him off of that particular food for a few days and introduce it
back gradually. A condition called Megasophagus also comes to mind. A hands on
examination from your vet is probably needed to diagnose this properly.
Hello, we have a little male that will
be 12 months old April 2003, I would love to geld him then so he can go back in
with the females that he has been with since birth, he really misses them. What
is the youngest I can geld a male with out causing him any other problems?
Your question is one that has a lot of varying opinions. Even most of the
expert llama vets don't have real substantial evidence as to the very best time.
Some have gelded as young as 6 months and report no problems. However, it is the
majority opinion to wait until around two years old before gelding. They feel
that the growth plates in their legs are then closed and gelding will not result
in any damage to their development.
This is our first time to own a Llama so I need to know what to feed one. Actually my dad
bought one at a sale and can barely get it to eat sweet feed. Is there something else it will
eat that we don't know about? Any help you can give us is greatly appreciated.
If your llama won't eat the sweet feed, don't push it. He's better off without it. Llamas are browsers
and enjoy pasture and hay. The hay should be a nice grass hay, not alfalfa. Although they really
like alfalfa, it is a bit high in protein for them and will put alot of weight on them. A sweet feed or
grain also is a bit rich for them and will put alot of weight on. Horse feeds are too high in copper for
them. Your goal for good nutrition is to keep them slim and trim and supply the correct vitamins and
minerals. Feed a nice grass hay and also just 1 pound of a llama supplement a day - from your feed
store. A number of feed companies have a llama feed and it has the vitamins and minerals that
llamas need. A male or gelding will need only about 3/4 of a pound of feed a day. A trace mineral
mix formulated for llamas can also be offered free choice. Also, be sure to check on what type of
de-wormers are needed in your area and to give him his annual vaccination of CD/T. Llamas are a
herd animal and your new pet will be much happier if he has another llama as a companion.
Check out more about llama management here. A good simple handbook to have on hand is Caring For Llamas & Alpacas. You can order it cheaply here .
I would like to know if you know of anyone that has used diatomaceous earth with llamas as a parasite control. Here's website information.
http://www.hydromall.com/happy_grower16.html Thank you.
I keep DE on hand, but I have not tried adding it to the llamas' feed. I've heard of doing that,
and it does sound quite harmless to them - I just don't know of any personal vet recommendations.
In the summer I sprinkle it over the manure daily in the spreader and use it as a fly control. We
don't keep an actual manure pile and spread it into a field regularly, but I figure it helps out in the
field as well as in the spreader by the barn.
I am currently considering purchasing 2 male llamas for guard use in my cow/calf
operation. I feed my cows sudan grass in the winter. Is this poison to a llama? Thank you.
It may not be the safest possible feed for llamas. After some research on Sudan Grass, I would highly recommend that you
check with your local veterinarian and your county extension agent before feeding it to
your new llamas. It is listed on some poisonous plant lists and has been known to affect
cattle, sheep, and horses. You can read more
about it at http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/crops/facts/98-043.htm. Also check other sites on Sudan Grass and various poisonous plant lists.
QUESTION: Thanks for your great website! I have a cria that was born the end of April. Now at six months old, she is still nursing and
the mom seems to let her when she "wants to" which seems to be getting less and less. Do I just
let the mom handle this weaning issue or do I need to assist in some way? If I should help when
would that be appropriate? The cria is eating grass and hay all day but will not eat creep feed at
all.Thanks so much for your help with this question. Tarre
It isn't actually necessary to wean the cria unless the Mom is showing signs of getting run down or
thin due to milking. Or if the cria is a male, you may need to wean him at 6 or 7 months in order
to separate him away from the females. If you have a female cria in with your herd and Mom is in
a good healthy condition, it would be perfectly OK to leave Mom & daughter together until Mom
decides it's time to wean her off. This will usually take place somewhere around 7 months of age.
Letting Mom make the decision is far more stress-free for both of them. Having to intervene and
separate Mom & cria is one of the hardest herd management jobs there is! It's actually less stress
for all if you move Mom to another pasture, out of sight, and leave the cria in familiar surroundings
with the rest of the herd.
My male llama... nine months old.... is acting very lethargic....he is
laying down alot...should I be overly alarmed? Should I get a vet out here
immediately? Should I sand blast him? He trys his best to get to the
buckwheat formula I give my horses... it is so strange..the horses want
the llama food and the llamas want the horse food. Thanks for any
suggestions. Nancy in Florida.
Any type of unusual behavior is an indication of a problem with your
llama. Hard to say whether he is sick or not, but he definitely sounds like he is uncomfortable for
some reason. Could it be heat stress - since it is that time of year - and you are in Florida? Are
you aware of the problems, signs, and preventions of heat stress? Have you taken his
temperature? If there is nothing that is obvious to you, perhaps you should have
your vet take a look at him.
We give our llamas a flake of alfalfa hay & 1/3 pound of Mazuri sweet feed each daily in the winter. Are we
overfeeding? Minerals are also available. Bob.
I'm sure your llamas love their winter diet and they are probably doing just fine - they all love
alfalfa and sweet feed. However, both of those items can possibly put on alot of un-needed
weight. A good grass hay of about 10-12% protein is usually recommended for llamas. Your
concern for over-feeding can only be confirmed by how much weight your llamas are carrying.
You should be able to feel their backbone and their ribs easily and also see a generous space in
between their rear legs for them to be well fit. Your feeding program should be geared to the area
of the country you live in and what types of vitamins and minerals need to be supplemented in your
area. As a very general guideline, it is suggested that a llama will eat a square bale of hay in seven
days when not on pasture and also should be offered about one pound of a llama feed daily -
maybe only 3/4 pound for males and geldings. Also a free choice llama trace mineral mix. A
good year round nutritional program is the most important foundation for all health care. It is often
said that the most common form of malnutrition in llamas is obesity. And it's alot easier to keep
them thin than to try to take weight off of them.
Hello. I just wanted to say thank you for the information on Meningal Worm, it was very helpful. It was probably evident that I was panicked. After my Vet and I read it, we both understood a little more then we already had. My llama is doing much better. He is still somewhat weak, but he is eating well, and is back outside with the rest of the herd, almost acting like himself. Although, his feet are still swollen, he is up, eating, SPITTING (I was so happy when I saw him spit at one of the other llamas) and acting pretty much like himself again. I did e-mail Dr. Anderson to see if he could give me any advise regarding his feet. My only advise is know what your llamas behavior is, and if any change, have them checked. I think in our case we caught it early enough, but I am glad we didn't wait to start treatment. I really don't think the outcome would have been as good. Please don't ever stop your website, I would be lost. Our vet is wonderful, but sometimes a second opinion is helpful. Thank you again. Lynn.
So glad to hear that your llama is feeling better! Your advise is excellent !!! Know your llama! If you think something is wrong, it probably is. They are so stoic that by the time you're aware something is wrong, it's usually time to take action. Your llama is lucky that he has such a good owner to care for him! Thank you for letting us know the positive outcome.
Hello. I have been raising llamas for about 7 years, and one
of my males has been diagnosed with meningal. I noticed a change in his disposition about 3 weeks ago.
I can only describe him as quiet and layed back. More then usual. Last night He came into the barn and I
thought he was kushing, which is very unusual for him. Then I noticed he was having trouble getting up. He
did get up by himself, but was very unsteady and weak, especially his rear legs. Then he went into his area
and layed down again. I immediately thought Meningal and called our vet. He told me to give him
penicillin, possibly it was a foot infection, and ivermectin at 1/2 his monthly dose. I have always
thought that the ivermec needed to be increased substantially to approximately 4CC per 100 lb. I gave
him the penicillin he advised, but my gut feeling was that the ivermec dose should be increased not
decreased. I increased it to the dosage of 4cc per 100. The vet came to the barn today, and agreed that
it is Meningal. The left side of his face had also dropped. While he was there we did the DMSO and
cortisone IV. I did agree with that. He advised me to give 3cc of banamine 2 times a day, and again 1/2 his
regular dose of ivermectin once a day for 5 days. His explaination was that there could be some toxicity
from all the ivermectin. Have you heard of this? We have worked together with my llamas for 7 years, and
at times he has asked my advise about them. He said that was his advise, but that he also valued my
opinion. Can you please give me any advise. My biggest fear has been meningal. How long should his
recovery take, or atleast improvement. He is still able to get up, but with difficulty, and is very weak
in the rear. Please let me know anything at all that might help, and about the dosage of the
Thank you very much. Lynn.
M-Worm is certainly a scarey thing to discover. Treatment can be successful when it is
diagnosed early and treatment started immediately. There is a good article
describing treatment and therapy that you might share with your vet. Or ask him to personally call and consult with
one of the nationally known llama vets who have had alot of experience in this area to assure maximum treatment is being administered. (or you can call yourself). Good luck with your treatments.
QUESTION: My llama is experiencing hair loss. The hair is coming out in clumps. The neck is the most obvious area. I cannot visually see any parasites. Are there other reasons for hair loss? She had a cria in May. She has not been bred back. Could hormonal levels attribute to hair loss? I am concerned as the winter approaches.
RE: Hair loss, or
alopecia, can possibly be a variety of things. If she is losing her neck wool, she may be a short woolled animal who will sometimes lose alot of head and neck wool when older. It also could be a "wool break" most commonly thought to be a result of some kind of stress. Alot of the time, this type of break starts on the neck and just leaves a type of stripe of short wool up the entire back of the neck. The break may stop with this or the animal may continue to lose wool all over its body leaving only about one inch left. Usually you can trace this type of break back to a possible stress about 3-6 months previous. It could be heat, weaning, training, showing, moving to a new home, and yes, even becoming a mother. The stress causes a weakness in the fiber and when it grows out, it just pulls off by the handfuls. Yes, it will grow back.
Parasites, mites or lice, can also cause hair loss, but you would probably be able to see them upon a careful check and you also might see some flaking or leathery skin.
Another reason for wool loss can be nutrition - most likely a zinc deficiency. This can be checked by a complete blood chemistry. She'll probably be fine for winter unless the weather is really severe - alot of short wool llamas have no problems with cold weather. And the wool loss will not effect breeding her back.
QUESTION: I have a 2-llama backyard "ranch" with my boys bought primarily for the purpose of packing and general enjoyment. Both are 3+ years old. Monty has developed pathological stretching of the middle patella ligament
with subacute upward displacement of the patella in the right hind leg (his knee moves upward too far on some strides, then pops back into position). This was diagnosed by Dr. Sarel Van Amstel at University of Tennessee Veterinary School. If it is not treated, I cannot continue to use him for packing, and must somehow find a way to retire my pet to pasture (all kinds of emotional, logistical, and financial complications here).
Dr. Van Amstel has suggested trying a procedure that is used successfully on horses to allow them to go back to work after suffering
this type of injury. This is injection of an iodine solution into the middle patella ligament to facilitate fibrosis and shorting of the ligament. He and I are both researching any application of this to llamas.
Has anyone out there used this procedure on llamas? If so, what is the recommended dosage (in horses 5cc is used, about half that has been suggested for my llama)? What is the success rate? What are the potential complications and how often do they tend to occur? Any information you have would be most welcome. Veterinarians with specific experience with the problem, this treatment, or other potential treatments can also call Dr. Van Amstel directly at 423-974-5701.
Thanks in advance for any information that you can provide. Susan
QUESTION: How old can you expect to start using a male for breeding? Audrey
RE: The most common age that a male is able to breed is generally around the age of two years. However, some do start as early as 18-19 months and others as late as three years, sometimes even four years but that is a little unusual. There are also stories of a surprise pregnancy from males less than a year old, but that too is very uncommon. Most breeders remove their young males from the females before the age of one year just to be sure.
QUESTION: I am looking to purchase fainting goats. I have a herd of llamas and I want to put the goats in with the female llamas. Will this cause a problem? Christine
RE: The addition of the goats into the llama's area will probably cause a temporary upset. It seems when smaller, unfamiliar animals are introduced, such as miniature donkeys, goats, or a turkey even, the llamas are frightened and you will probably witness alot of alarm calls. If you could put the goats in an adjoining pasture for a week or so before putting them together, they would probably accept each other easier. The only other problem could be with the habits of the goats as they tend to be assertive and hog all the feed dishes.
QUESTION: I heard somewhere that the spit from a llama is hurtful or poisonous. Is this a rumor or partially true? Lisa
The only hurtful part about it is that it hurts your ego!! Most llamas do not aim and spit directly at you unless they have been mistreated in a petting zoo or some kind of confinement where they have learned to mistrust. They do spit at each other occasionally - especially to show dominance at feeding time. Sometimes it is just a wet spray in the air, kind of like a warning. When really agitated, the spit is regurgitated chewed grass .... wet, and green with an unpleasant odor. Since they do not bite, spitting is a means of defense and the unusual tactic does scare off some predators. It's alot less painful than a dog bite!
QUESTION: I have a 19 month old maiden female llama who has had recurrent vaginal
infections that cultured out as e.coli. I was wondering if anyone else has seen this and can give me any advice on how to prevent this from happening again. Thanks.
I've heard that some females can have what is called a "shelf" placement of their labia, which enables poop to fall onto the opening, potentially causing vaginal e. coli infection. This is considered an undesireable conformational fault. You should observe your llama when she is defecating and see if she is consistently getting the poop away from her body or if it is falling onto her labia. I don't know how to deal with this, if indeed it is the cause of your problem. Good luck.
QUESTION: I am a new llama owner. I have been given two llamas. They are 8 years old. One of my llamas has what look to be hair-like worms moving around between his eye and eye lid. Do you think they are worms or maggots? What would be the best treatment for this condition?
Eyeworms: The most likely cause of hair-like worms inside the eyelids is the
nematode, Thelazia Californiensis. It is transmitted from animal to animal by flies. Treatment is either by manual removal or you can have your veterinarian make up some eyedrops out of ivermectin to administer to the eye.
Sam D. Meisler DVM
QUESTION: I live on a farm in south Texas. Is the weather too hot for llamas? Betty
There are quite a few breeders in Texas that successfully raise and keep llamas. Although hot weather is definitely a concern, there are extra methods that maybe farms in the south utilize for the heat. Some have misters and also completely shear the animals in the summer. Definitely fans --- and more fans! Some investigation would be helpful. Hopefully, we'll get some more opinions on this subject.
QUESTION: What kind of market is there? Can one only supplement income or can one derive a living from llama farming? Thank you.Betty
Llama prices seem to be holding well the past three years or so. If anything, there seems to be an increased interest this past year, more activity, and slightly higher prices. As with any other business, you'll have to have enthusiasm and do a little marketing - the world will not beat a path to your door. Raising llamas can be a very nice supplemental income. There are also many who have it as their only business and make a nice living. Besides just breeding and raising llamas, there are many other aspects that owners have taken advantage of such as offering hikes and lllama treks, Bed & Breakfast with llamas, llamas that go to parties and public functions, renting llamas as golf caddies to the local golf course, spinning, weaving and felting with their wool, boarding other's llamas, or doing llama arts and crafts. Create a children's program taking a nice, friendly llama, llama stories, and llama puppets. A little enthusiasm, creativity, and marketing and you're on your way to a hard-to-beat involvement and lifestyle. However, the committment and responsibility to these wonderful creatures is not to be taken lightly before you jump in. Although they are easy keepers, you must pursue the opportunity to learn about their care for your area.
I have tried to desensitize this 7 year old llama to let me lift his feet. His front toenails are now quite long and I have still not been able to lift and trim. Unfortunately, we do not have any veterinarians locally who know how to treat llamas. Any suggestions? Barbara
Proper nail trimming is quite important for your llama. If you do not have a chute available, tie him to an inside corner with only about an 18" length to his halter so he can't travel too far. Some owners have been successful using their trailer as a restraining area also. For the front leg, stand beside the llama facing towards his rear, work your way down his leg slowly by touching and using calming voice commands. My most helpful hint is to bend way over and pick the leg up and hold it low to the ground rather than bringing the leg up to you. And make sure you are bending the llama's leg in the normal direction that it bends - not too high or out to the side (ouch). Relax the leg in the palm of your hand and you will feel the llama relax also. Now you can carefully trim. The llama must know that you are confident and relaxed as you begin this procedure. You are the trainer - don't allow him to train you. John Mallon has a great article on nail trimming called
"Pickin' 'Em Up and Puttin' 'Em Down".
I just recently noticed that my 7 year old llama (I've only owned for one year) has a hard bulge (egg size) in the buccal area - if a llama has a buccal area. Do llamas hold their cud here? The bulge seems to increase and decrease but is there most of the time. I never noticed this on my llama until recently. Should I worry about this? Otherwise he seems fine, eats OK, no droopy head, etc. Thanks. Barbara
I have seen several llamas and other species of animals do this. A swelling is seen in the "cheek" area that seems to come and go. The swelling is food material or regurgitated cud. This may be associated with a tooth abnormality, but more often than not is just particular to the individual llama and nothing to worry about. The buccal area is the correct term to use; it refers to the area of the mouth outside of the teeth but inside the oral cavity.
RE: In older llamas the cud-chewing motion of the jaw can cause the molars to wear unevenly, with the outer edges of the teeth becoming sharp and raised with respect to inner surface. This can interfere with the ability to chew cud. I've had some owners tell me a sign of this is a consistent lump of cud in the cheek. You might have a vet inspect your llama's teeth and, if necessary, "float" or grind them even. It's a common procedure. Be careful, that edge can really be sharp!
I was just wondering what the price range for llamas is nowadays. Thanks, Hanna
Llama prices have come down from the outlandish prices they were about eight years ago. The prices now seem to be holding and they are affordable for a great many more families to enjoy. There are still some that are good show quality with good conformation that bring extremely good prices thus making raising llamas still a good investment. There is a wide range in today's prices depending on what you are purchasing. A gelded male usually sells for $500.00. Females can start at $1500.00 on the very low end - $3000 - $4000 is more average - and recent sales have brought highs in the $20,000's. A nice breeding male can be purchased young starting about $2500 and up to $15,000 for a very nice older male. Do your homework, know what you want to purchase, ask plenty of questions, and buy from a farm that you trust, has a written contract with everything spelled out, and complete medical records.
I have a suri-type fibered llama and would like some info on the correct way to groom since it has alot of crimp. Sue
RE: I would recommend trying to blow out as much debris as possible with a circuteer blower or something like it. Some even use a leaf blower. Then if you can't brush, it's just a matter of picking stuff out of the wool by hand or with a pick/comb. If you shampoo the animal, apply conditioner and let drip dry. Do not blow dry if you want to keep the crimp. But even if you blow or brush out the crimp, it will return in a few days - especially with humidity.
How much fiber does a llama produce from a shearing? Chris
It would depend on the type of cut you are giving the llama, the type of llama, and also the llama's age. If it is the first shearing, a barrel cut, and the llama is long woolled and about two years old, I would approximate two pounds and about one to one and a half pounds annually after that. If it is a short woolled animal, the amount would be less. And if it was a total body shearing, of course the total amount would be more.
Does anyone know the chemical content of llama beans? Gardening friends are asking this question when they take the manure for their gardens. Donald
It's reported to be 1 nitrogen, 1.5 phosphorus, and 1 potassium, when dried.
Please help! I have a female alpaca who had a cria one week ago.It was questionable whether the baby got
enough colostrum so I had an igg done which came back 650. The cria seems active etc. Today I noticed that
the mommy had something hanging from her vulva. I watched and it dropped. It seems like a small piece of
pink tissue. At first I thought it might be discharge. Is this unusual?? It is not her first cria and the birth
seemed like a fairly easy one. PLEASE comment... Thank you, Layla
I imagine you're right in assuming you are seeing a slight discharge from your female following the birth of
her cria. That wouldn't be abnormal as long as it is slight.
And I compliment you on your choice to do an IgG on your new cria. So many owners do not choose to do this
important test. A result of 650 is just a little low though and you might consult with your veterinarian about
doing a plasma transfer just to insure your cria has an adequate passive transfer of immunity. Even though
the cria is active and gaining weight, he would still be susceptible to any strange bacteria that he may be
subjected to without a proper immune system.
We have a 5 year old female llama with what we think is megaeosophagus.
Does any one out there have any experience with this? How can it be treated
if at all and what is the prognosis?
This animal has been showing symptoms for a long time and is losing weight.
She frequently has a nasal and oral discharge that is thick, sometimes,
opaque in color rather than clear, sometimes bloody and often has food
and/or grain matter in it. We would like to treat her if possible.
Thanks, Jo Ann Close, Verdura Farm
Unfortunately, there are no specific treatments. Mostly what can be done is
management.....helping the llama to cope with the disease and hopefully
prolonging their life. Feeding the llama on an incline, working with
different types of feed to see which is best tolerated, and to see which ones
help to increase or at least maintain the llama's weight, along with the use
of antibiotics to help with any aspiration type pneumonia's that go along
with the disease are the main things one can do for a llama with mega-e.
The symptoms you mentioned are typical. A continual "burping" up of
the cud..where the bolus goes up and down the one side of the neck, sometimes
drooling or foaming at the mouth, sometimes increased episodes of choking on
feed, nasal discharges ranging from white to green with feed particles
evident, sometimes an elevated temperature due to aspiration pneumonias,
weight loss, eventual bloating, continued nerve degeneration of the
esophagus, etc. Most times, the llamas either show signs of the disease at an early
age..around 18 months to two years, or at mid life around 5-6 years of age.
In dogs, the early appearance is usually believed to indicate a congenital
condition, whereas onset later in life is believed to be due to a trauma or
possibly a viral infection..although there are many different possible causes
for megaesophagus. And, I just spoke with a woman who has three generations
of mega-e. in her llamas all of which showed up later in life.
Mega-e is a difficult disease to watch progress...I
wish you the very best.Chris Armstrong, Blue Moon Llamas
Hello. Could you please let me know the recommended dosage of Ivermec, for
prevention of Meningeal Worm. We are located in an area with many white tail
deer, and we follow a very strict worming schedule April thru Nov. The
problem is everyone from vets to breeders have a different dosage to be
used. Differences as 1cc per llama to 3cc's per llama. I want to keep them
safe, but don't want to overdose them on Ivermec.
Please let me know your opinion.
Dosages for ivermectin will vary according to the weight of the individual animal. A good
recommendation for protection on Meningeal Worm is given by Dr. Anderson of Ohio
State University. See ParasiteControl
I have four llamas we use for packing. Two are in great shape, one we just purchased is underweight (and
we're working on putting weight on him) and one is overweight. He weighs 520 pounds!!!
We feed all of them the same. In the winter, we fed them 3/4 cups of grain per day plus grass hay. In the
summer, we let them graze out in the pasture which is FULL of grass. How can we put one llama on a diet without isolating him from the others? Thank you! Kimberly
You can't really put him on a diet without some isolation. He still needs his llama grain for his vitamins and minerals, but you'll probably have to limit his pasture time out on that good grass! And he doesn't need hay now either. Exercise will help also. It's not easy to take weight off, but with your help, he'll be a healthier animal.
For more llama discussions ....
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.
Llama Health, Care, and Management
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