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Frequently Asked Questions
New and even experienced llama owners often have many questions about llama uses, behaviors and care. We hope the following FAQ's will answer some of these concerns.
What do llamas eat?
How long do llamas live?
What kind of shelter do I need to provide for my llamas?
What kind of fencing do I need to keep my llamas on my property?
How big do llamas get?
Will a llama be OK living all by itself?
I hear they spit - is this true?
What colors do llamas come in?
When is a llama old enough to breed?
What is the gestation period of llamas?
Do I need to shear my llamas?
What can I do with a llama?
What kind of routine veterinary care do llamas need?
Do llamas need their "hooves" trimmed?
Do llamas have any problems in extreme weather conditions?
Can llamas get West Nile Virus?
Is there a vaccine for llamas against West Nile Virus?




What do llamas eat?

Llamas are grazers and browsers. This means that they eat grass and leaves from bushes and trees. In a farm setting, you will want to supply clean, fresh water, a salt/mineral source, good quality grass hay in the winter, and a grassy pasture in spring, summer and fall. We also supplement our llamas with a specially formulated 'llama chow' that is available from various suppliers.

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How long do llamas live?

Llamas typically live from 15 to 20 years, but can occasionally live longer.

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What kind of shelter do I need to provide for my llamas?

The type of shelter necessary depends, to some degree, on the type of climate you live in. In central Illinois where we live, the winters are long and cold and the summers are hot and humid. In our area, llamas require at least a 3 sided shed, with the open side facing away from prevailing wind and weather. In the summer, they require shade and moving air to keep them cool.

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What kind of fencing do I need to keep my llamas on my property?

Minimum fencing requirement is 2-3 strands of hot wire, from 18" high at the bottom to about 4' high at the top, on T-posts. However, any llama that is new to an area will run through an electric fence if it is not introduced to its boundaries slowly. We recommend woven wire fencing or high tensile wire fencing, 4-4.5' high. Board fencing is also appropriate, but barbed wire is not a good idea because it is dangerous to the llama.

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How big do llamas get?

Llamas generally vary in size from about 36 to 48 inches at at the shoulder, but smaller or larger llamas can be found. Their adult weights range from about 200 to in excess of 500 pounds.

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Will a llama be OK living all by itself?

Llamas are herd animals. This means that they need to live with other llamas, or at a minimum, with other animals of about the same size and type. Llamas usually do well living with goats, sheep, horses, donkeys or other hoof stock and will adopt them and guard them as if they were llamas. We will not sell a lone llama to a new owner unless there is some other animal companion that the llama will have. If there are no other hoof stock on the property, we will sell you a pair of llamas.

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I hear they spit - is this true?

Llamas use spitting to determine who is in charge in a group of llamas, and the female llama will spit at the male if she does not want to breed with him. In situations where a llama cannot get away from unwanted attention by humans, a llama may spit at a human. But, in general, llamas do not spit at people unless there is a very good reason to do so!

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What colors do llamas come in?

Llamas come in all color combinations. Paint (white with at least one other color), bay (dark brown with black face and lower legs), black, reddish brown and off-white are the most common colors.

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When is a llama old enough to breed?

As in humans and many other animals, female llamas mature before the males. A female llama is generally ready to breed by the time she is 2 years old. A male llama may be ready by the time he is 2 years old, but usually he will not be a reliable breeder until he is 3 to 4 years old.

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What is the gestation period of llamas?

A normal llama pregnancy can vary quite a bit and still result in a full-term cria (cria = baby llama). The average full-term pregnancy is 11.5 months, but can vary from 10.5 to 13 months.

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Do I need to shear my llamas?

If you live anywhere where the summer temperature reaches above 80 degrees, your llama will thank you for a summer haircut. Llama coats take 2 years to reach full growth, so it may be necessary to trim them only every other year. It is also not a good idea to take the wool off all the way down to the skin - they can sunburn! We usually trim the barrel (shoulders to haunches) and leave about 1 inch of wool to protect against UV rays.

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What can I do with a llama?

Llamas have many uses. They make good companion/pet animals. They will guard your other livestock from predators, like feral dogs and coyotes. You can use the wool that you harvest from them for crafts. They will keep your pastures mowed. You can use them to carry a pack and take them for a hike with you. They can be trained to pull a cart. You can just enjoy working with them and watching them!

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What kind of routine veterinary care do llamas need?

Like most livestock, llamas should be wormed regularly, per your veterinarian's recommended schedule. They should also have basic yearly shots. The shots that we give our llamas include tetanus, clostridium and leptospirosis. In some areas of the country rabies vaccination may be warranted as well. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian.

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Do llamas need their "hooves" trimmed?

Llamas have a soft foot, much like a dog's, and two toenails. Depending on the terrain that the llama lives in, these nails may have to be trimmed periodically. This can be accomplished with a pruning shear or hoof nipper, but some llamas don't like their feet handled, so it is a good idea to practice lifting their feet before you need to trim their nails.

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Do llamas have any problems in extreme weather conditions?

Generally speaking, llamas do fine with any cold weather. They do need to be able to get into shelter in severe cold wind conditions or the tips of their ears can become frost bitten. And of course, baby llamas are more susceptible to the cold than the adults - we put little coats and neck warmers on ours! Hot, humid weather is more dangerous for llamas than the cold. When the weather is hot and/or humid, llamas should have access to shade and preferrably a fan to keep them from overheating. We also spray their legs, chests and bellies with a hose several times a day on those 90 degree high humidity days. Some llamas will also go and stand or sit down in a wading pool full of water to keep cool.

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Can llamas get West Nile Virus?

According to the most recent reports that we have heard, one llama was suspected of having had West Nile Virus, but it was not confirmed. There has been a confirmed case in an alpaca.

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Is there a vaccine for llamas against West Nile Virus?

At this time, there is no vaccine approved for llamas against West Nile Virus. We hope that by the spring, when the mosquitos are out in force again, a vaccine will have been developed. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

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