Raising LLamas As A Beginner Farmer
Llamas have been used by humans for transportation and reared for their fleece, and still this is practice in pastoral. These camelids are somehow mistaken for alpacas and every keeper must be well informed of the different features.
Llamas are used as pack animals by humans as they can carry a generous amount of weight with an average load of 45-60 kg (99-132 pounds) and can travel for up to 30 km (18.6 miles) each day. Llamas can run up to 56.3 km (35 miles) per hour.
Llamas have a bad reputation especially when they are overloaded or maltreated; they react by spitting, kicking, kushing (lying down with their sternum on the ground) or refusing to move, however, they are gentle creatures. They can be used as guard animals for livestock like alpacas and sheep (domesticated).
Llama Description And Life Span
Llamas have long necks and legs, relatively small heads, longer (elongated) face with a split upper lip, large ears that resemble the shape of bananas, and short tails.
They have a bigger body frame which is about 120 cm (47 inches) at the shoulders and 1.52-1.83 m (5 – 6 feet) tall at the head; they range in length from three to five feet (.91-1.5m) and weigh between 250 and 450 pounds (113.4-204kg); weighing about 113 kg (250 pounds); and they have two toes with hard nails and leathery pads on the sole of the toes.
Well-cared for llamas can live more than 20 years but their average life span is 15 years.
Llama Classification (LLama glama species)
Llamas have a double coat, which is coarse on the outside and soft on the inside, and come in four different classification types.
- Ccara (classic) llama– this type of llama has short hair on legs, neck, face and ears; also considered to be suitable for packs as it was developed to be a working animal.
- Excessive breeding with heavier fleeced llamas, the Ccara is a rare llama; they are fairly common for seasonally shedding their undercoat (called light wool llamas).
- Curacao llama – this is another type of llama mostly used for packing. It has wool on the neck that is relatively shorter while the body carries a greater amount; with fiber on its knees on the front legs, hocks and on back legs. They are sometimes referred to as medium wool.
- Tapada/Lanuda llama – these types of long fleeced llamas do not shed like their cousins; the wool goes all the way down to its ankles on all four legs. They often have fringes or tassels on their ears and are referred to as heavy wool llamas.
- Suri llama – the fiber of this llama is dreadlocked on the body because the fiber grows in a way that it drapes over the llama. The fiber begins to separate on its own when growing turning into cords from skin to all the way to the tip of the fleece.
As we know that llamas have nails and pads, their nails must be regularly maintained. The nails need to be trimmed so they do not experience pain, discomfort and health conditions such as nail fungi.
Proper care must be taken when trimming the nails and never cut too close as this will hurt and there will be bleeding.
It is advisable to get assistance from another llama farer or a veterinary officer who will assist especially when the nail is folding because the process requires gentleness when trimming.
Llama Habitation And Adaptation
Llamas’ natural habitat is high plateau covered with shrubs, stunted trees and grasses at elevations ranging from 2,300-4,000 m (7,550 to 13,120 feet). They have adapted to a variety of environments.
- These llama glama are able to adapt and survive in high elevated places because their lungs get enough oxygen due to the high amount of haemoglobin in their blood.
- Their two toed feet enables them to trek on rocky surfaces causing less environmental damage compared to hoofed animals.
- Their thick fleece keeps them warm and also helps against animal bites.
- Llama’s eyes on the side of their heads provide panoramic vision which enables them to detect
- predators approaching from any angle.
- They are modified ruminants with three chambered stomach that allows them to process a variety of foliage in their harsh environment.
- They are also considered to be efficient pack animals as they can travel up to 30 km (19 miles) per day with an ability to carry loads weighing about 60 kg (130 pounds).
- They can run at a speed of 65 km (40 miles) per hour which helps them to run from predators.
Llamas are vulnerable to predators such as mountain lions, coyotes and ocelots where they habit.
Llama Reproduction Cycle
Llama males are polygamous as they mate with multiple females in the herd during the late summer and fall which is from November to May. The female llamas undergo induced ovulation enabling them to release an egg within 24-36 hours.
The gestation period lasts about 360 days; giving birth to an offspring called a cria. How To Raise Llamas Newborns weigh about 8 – 15 kg (18-33 pounds) and they can stand within an hour; the birth membrane dries and flakes off hence llamas give birth in the morning.
Crias nurse for 4-5 months, and they are always with the mother until they are a year old then the male drives them away from the herd. The cria matures sexually when they reach 2-3 years of age.
They primarily eat shrubs and grasses; their food providing moisture they need to survive in dry, high-elevated environment. Those that are kept in zoo are fed hay, specially formulated biscuits for herbivorous animals and fresh browse.
Never feed domesticated llamas with spoiled silage discarded for wild animals to eat as this will cause diseases in the animals. Ensure llama pasture is not infected or affected by harsh chemicals spilled on the plants.