Llama Questions and Replies

Over The Fence Discussions

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: 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. 

QUESTION: Hello, 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, no 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 substitue for qualified
professional advice from your own veterinarian. 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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