What do you do with a llama?
They make excellent pets, fiber producers, pack animals, cart animals and sheep
guardians (see link below). They’re also great for
Do they spit?
Spitting is used by llamas to settle arguments, establish dominance and
pecking order, tell males that females are pregnant, discipline crias
(baby llamas) and express fear or discomfort. Llamas generally spit only at other llamas but rarely at people. The actual contents of the spit can take various forms,
namely, the grain spit, the saliva spit and the green stomach content
spit. The grain spit occurs when the llama is defending its food. A llama will spit whatever is in its mouth and usually occurs when eating
grain. A llama will also spit by spraying the saliva from their
mouths. This is usually a warning before the green spit appears. The
green stomach content spit is the worst and the llama means business
when spitting the green stuff. A llama can spit this up to a distance
of about 10-15 feet. This spit is very smelly to both people and other
llamas. Even the spitting llama does not like this taste, so it uses this form of spitting only rarely. After this form of spitting, a llama will seek to replace the taste in its mouth by chewing on preferably, pine needles which act as a mouthwash to replace the awful taste.
How long do they live?
15 years is average in South America, but they often live 20-30 years in North
America resulting from better nutrition and
What is their gestation? (period of time from conception to birth)
11 -1/2 months.(345 days)
What age do you begin breeding?
Females as early as one year and males between 2 and 3 -1/2.
How soon can you rebreed after delivery?
14 days. Llamas do not come into heat. They are induced ovulators. This means that the female does not ovulate any eggs (oocytes) until
she has been bred by the male. The act of breeding stimulates hormonal
events inside the female which result in ovulation and hopefully
How much weight can they carry?
Between 80-120 lbs.
How much do they weigh?
25-30 lbs at birth. 250-500 lbs at maturity.
How much do they eat?
A little less than a bale of hay each week - about 1/3 of what a horse eats.
What do you feed them?
Grass hay and loose mineral salts. On the coldest days ( -20 to -40) we feed them a grain mixture of cracked corn, rolled oats and soya meal, which they love, and is a real treat for them. The grain helps to generate extra heat in their bellies to help keep them warm. We always assure that fresh water is available to them, as it is of course, important as a digestion aid as well as to quench their thirst.
Are they easy to train?
Yes. They have been domesticated for thousands of years and can be trained at an early age to accept a halter for guiding them.
What are some of the unique characteristics of llamas?
They have their babies during the "considerate" daylight hours of between 10 a.m. and 2
p.m. They dung pile (poo in only a few distinct locations in the pasture).
an extra elliptical blood cell so that they are well adapted to
working at high altitudes .
They have wide set eyes which can see almost 260
degrees. This makes them very kinetically aware and they rarely trip or knock
things over in tight spaces.
Their feet have two toes with a soft leather base which gives them extra sure-footedness when climbing. (see link below)
What is their fiber like?
Their fibre contains microscopic air pockets, which makes it lighter and warmer than sheep wool. Many people who are allergic to sheep wool can wear llama garments close to their skin, as on a microscopic level it's closer to human hair, having a smooth shaft as compared to the barbed shaft that is found in the wool of a sheep (non-allergenic). Because it has no lanolin, spinning with the fibre has a cleaner, non-oily feel. Also, there is less crimp associated with llama fibre than with sheep wool, and so requires a higher twist when spinning the fibre to make skeins of wool.
What sounds do they make?
They hum, orgle when breeding, and have a high pitched alarm call. We have a bear path above our house and hear this call on an almost daily basis as the bears make their rounds during their active seasons. (Click on the link below to hear their alarm call on our YouTube site)
What do you look for in a llama?
Size, good bone, a high tail set, a flat back, banana shaped ears, fluid
movement, balance, straight legs and a calm disposition, fine quality wool and preferably a good sense of humour!
When are llamas fully grown?
3 1/2 years. (or more ;-)
Do you have to geld males in order to use them for pets , guard and pack
It is recommended for male llamas to be gelded, which makes them more docile and gentle, similar to neutering of cats and dogs. Breeding llamas, of course, forego this procedure for obvious reasons. Females can be spayed, but this is rarely done as the procedure is expensive and most females are reserved for breeding programs
Are they good travelers?
Yes. They usually lie down when moving and can be transported in the back of a
van. They require very little room when traveling.
Is their manure good fertilizer?
It is exceptional. It is rich, but not hot. It does not have to be composted in
order to be used (see "Why Llama Pellets" and "Llama Tea" on home page, this site)
How long does it take for their coat to grow back after shearing?
One to two years. (See "shearing", this site)
Can you eat llamas?
In South America, every aspect of llamas are utilized, including using them for meat. In North America, it's not a common practice to eat them.