There's nothing more powerful...a picture paints a thousand words!

WHAT ARE LLAMAS?

Llamas and their relatives are no strangers to our land.  Llamas are members of the camelid family, which at one time thrived on the plains of North America.  With the Ice Age, llamas became extinct in North America.  Llamas migrated to South America and took up residence in the land of the Andean Mountains.

     In the highlands of Peru, some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, llamas were domesticated, placing them among the oldest domestic animals in the world.  The llama was the lifeline of the Inca Indians of South America.  Called their "silent brother" by the Incas, the llama was worshipped and highly regarded.  The llama was their beast of burden, the source of clothing and a source of food as well as fuel.
 
     In the late 1800s and early 1900s, private animal collectors and zoos reintroduced llamas to their original North American homeland.  Today there are an estimated seven million llamas and alpacas in South America (in approximately equal numbers) and some 80,000 to 100,000 llamas in the United States and Canada.
 
     Llamas started to become popular in the United States when an Oregon couple (Kay Sharpnack & her former husband Dick Patterson) decided to promote them as domestic livestock and made them available to the general public.  Little was known at the time of the many functions that we would later find they served.  

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A LLAMA???

   A common question to llama breeders is, "What do you do with llamas?" There are so many uses of llamas! Llamas by their nature make people feel more comfortable.  Llamas are calm, quiet and majestic; the spirit of the llama is contagious to the people around them.

    Llamas have a dignified, aristocratic manner about them.  Because of their curiosity, they have a delightful habit of coming close to sniff strangers.  Despite your natural temptation to hug and cuddle them, they prefer not to be petted except on their necks and woolly backs.  They are highly social animals and need the companionship of another llama or other grazing livestock. To increase your enjoyment and to satisfy the llama's natural herd instincts think about owning at least two.
     Llamas communicate their moods with a series of tail, body and ear postures and vocalizations.  Learning this llama language is one of the joys of ownership.  Humming is a common manner of communication between llamas and indicates a variety of moods from contentedness to aggression.  Another interesting llama expression is the shrill, rhythmic alarm call emitted at the sight of a strange animal or a frightening situation.
     Whether viewed in a pasture or glimpsed in the wild, all llamas have a striking beauty owed to their elegant wool and graceful posture.  Llama wool ranges from white to black, with shades of gray, brown, red and roan in between.  Markings can be a variety of patterns from solid to spotted.
     Mature llamas weigh an average of 280 to 350 pounds, but can range from 250 to 500 pounds.  Full body size is reached by the fourth year, and while there are no obvious differences between the sexes, males tend to be slightly larger.  They are long-lived, with a normal life span of 15 to 20 years.

    The joy and pride of owning beautiful llamas have created a desire to show them to the rest of the world. The Alpaca and Llama Show Association sanctions over 144 llama shows in North America. Just as horses, dogs and other domesticated livestock, there's an excitement level that brings young and old together in friendly competition to be awarded for the breeding, training and handling of these intelligent animals.  Small and large groups gather together to have their llamas judged for conformation, balance, structure and performance.  You will see pack llamas negotiating courses with real obstacles such as water crossing and downed trees. There are children who have worked with their 4H programs, children with special needs, individuals who have never had their hands on other large animals, retired farmers, dentists, lawyers, homemakers and school teachers.  They all share in the fun and excitement of llama shows. You will be amazed at the natural athletic ability shown by the llama as he gently, calmly pursues an obstacle course or his cooperation to dress in costumes and his undivided attention to his handler.

    Today the show circuit is enhanced with the well-organized Alpaca and Llama Show Association (the show association).  Many local shows have become encouraged to become ALSA-sanctioned so that they can be involved with regional shows and a Grand National show.  ALSA has more than 2,700 farm memberships and 589 youth members.  Members participating in ALSA have also been rewarded with premiums.  Many exhibitors promote their llamas as having been participants and winners.  This has promoted higher prices for those animals and has, in fact, resulted in many sales.
    Raising llamas is fun.  These unique animals are rewarding, both mentally and financially.  Whether they began raising llamas for a hobby as a business, many llama owners have had their lives totally changed by these lovable, easy-to-care-for creatures.  One can quickly become a member of the growing ranks of llama lovers.  No matter how long you own llamas, you can learn something from or about them every day.  They are kind, clean, quiet, peaceful, stoic, cute, uncomplaining and beautiful.        One of the greatest joys of owning llamas is knowing others who share the same unique interest and enthusiasm for these special animals.  The growth of this exciting young industry has been spurred by the cooperation and sharing of information among llama owners.  Llama owners care about their animals and provide information for new and potential llama owners. 

    Llamas can save you money.  Like any other livestock, llama-breeding stock can be depreciated and deducted from your tax bill*.  Llamas can also be very profitable.  If you enjoy making money and having fun at the same time, llamas are for you.  Llamas have a proven track record over many decades as being profitable.  During the 1980's and 1990's, show quality llamas had consistently demanded prices in five figures, with some approaching six figures. 
It is worth diversifying your portfolio to include llamas for more reasons than just making money.  Llamas also bring you and your family fun and increased pleasure, and llamas will enhance your pride.  Llamas are very prestigious; just take time to observe their proud, majestic presence and gentle disposition.

After you become a llama owner, your answer to the question, "What do you do with llamas?" will be, "What do you do without llamas?"  

CHARACTERISTICS OF LLAMAS

 

Whether viewed in the pasture or glimpsed in the wild, all llamas have a striking beauty owing to their elegant wool and graceful posture.

 Color:

Llama and alpaca wool ranges from white to black, with shades of gray, brown, red and roan in between. Markings can be in a variety of patterns from solid to spotted.

 

 Size:

Mature llamas weigh an average of 280 - 350 pounds but range from 250 - 500 pounds. Full body size is reached by the fourth year, and while there are no obvious differences between the sexes, males tend to be slightly larger.

Life Span:

Llamas are long lived, with a normal life span of 15 - 25 years

 

Ruminants:

Like cattle, sheep and deer, llamas' are multi-chambered stomached ruminants that chew their cud.

 

Teeth:

They have a hard upper gum (no upper teeth in front) grinding upper and lower molars in back, and an ingenious upper lip for grasping forage in unison with the lower incisors. Adult males develop large, short upper and lower canines (fighting teeth) for fighting. You should ask your veterinarian to remove those to prevent injury to males pastured together or to females being bred.

 

 Feet & Scent Glands:

 The llamas' unique, specially adapted foot makes them remarkably sure-footed on a variety of terrain, including sandy soils and snow. It is two-towed with a broad, leathery pad on the bottom and curved nails in front. The small, oblong, bare patches on the side of each rear leg are not vestigial toes ("chestnuts" as found on horses), but metatarsal scent glands, suspected to be associated with the production of alarm pheromone. An additional scent gland is located between the toes. Unless your llamas are pastured on hard or rocky ground, you may have to trim their toenails once or twice a year. It is easy to do yourself with hoof trimmers, but consult available literature or your veterinarian before your first attempt.

 

Habits & Behavior:

Llamas have a dignified, aristocratic manner about them. Because of their curiosity, they have a delightful habit of coming close to sniff strangers. But despite your natural temptation to hug and cuddle them, most of them prefer not to be petted except on their necks and backs. Llamas are typically docile around children. They are gentle and do not spook easily, and rarely bite or kick unless provoked. They are highly social animals and need the companionship of another llama or other grazing livestock.

 

Communication:

Llamas communicate their moods with a series of tail, body, and ear postures as well as vocalizations. Learning this llama language is one of the joys of ownership. Humming is a common manner of communication between llamas, and indicates a variety of moods from contentedness to concern. Another interesting llama expression is the shrill, rhythmic alarm call emitted at the sight of a strange animal (especially dogs) or a frightening situation.

 

Spitting:

Yes, llamas spit. Spitting is usually related to food disputes and is seldom directed at people unless a llama has been mishandled or become imprinted on people through bottle feeding as a baby.

 

Dung Piles:

Llamas are remarkably clean, and even large herds are quite odorless. Dung-piling behavior is an important means of spatial orientation and territorial marking for these historically open habitat animals, and a convenience when you clean their pens. By taking advantage of this habit you can encourage your animals to establish dung piles in a new pen by "pre -baiting" four to five sites per acre with a shovel full of llama dung.

 

Breeding and Reproduction:

Female llamas are good mothers and there is nothing as delightful as the sight of their babies playing and romping. Though females may conceive as early as six months, they should not be bred until they are 18 -24 months old depending on size and development. Males may be fertile at seven to nine months of age, but are?t fully dependable breeders until three years old when they are socially and sexually mature. Llamas breed in a prone position (male on top), and copulation may take up to 45 minutes. The act of copulation induces ovulation (i.e. they ovulate 24 - 36 hours after mating). Gestation averages 350 days and a single offspring is produced ~~ twining is rare. The average weight of a normal newborn cria is 25 - 30 pounds, but can range from 18 -40 pounds.

 

     Because they are induced ovulators, llamas can give birth throughout the year. Depending on your climate, you should plan breeding to avoid births in the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter. Births normally occur in the daytime. From the onset of normal presentation (of both feet and head) to birth, 10-45 minutes may elapse. Unlike most mammals, llama mothers do not lick their newborn nor eat the afterbirth. Llama young, called "cria" begin walking within an hour and should nurse in one to two hours. The placenta is usually passed within four hours. Females are normally bred back two to four weeks after giving birth.