What are Llamas

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Characteristics

  • Life Span: 15-20 Yrs.
  • Height: 5-6 ft. at the head
  • Weight: 200-550 lbs.
  • Average Gestation: 346 days

Llamas are specially suited for the harsh environment of the Andes, North American owners will find them to be remarkably hardy, disease free, healthy and easy to care for. They usually require the same inoculations as other livestock. Llamas normally stack their manure into one spot, and "llama beans" are high in nitrogen and weed free.

A single baby (cria) is normally delivered without assistance from a standing mother during daylight hours. Twinning rarely occurs. Birth weight is 20 to 35 lbs., and babies are up and nursing within 90 minutes. They are weaned at about six months. Females are first bred at 18 - 24 months of age. Males are bred after 2 years of age. Llamas do not have a heat cycle and can be bred at any time of the year.

Wool color ranges from white to black, with shades of gray, beige, brown, red and roan in between. It may be solid, spotted or marked in a variety of patterns such as pinto or appaloosa.

History

Llamas are members of the camel family. The camelids originated in the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. From there, about three million years ago, they dispersed to South America. By the end of the last ice age (10,000 to 12,000 years ago), the camelids were extinct in North America. Llamas were domesticated in the Andean highlands of Peru 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, and are among the oldest domestic animals in the world. Primarily a beast of burden, they also provided the native herdsman with meat, wool for clothing, hide for shelter, manure pellets for fuel, and offerings to their gods. Today there are an estimated 3.5 million llamas in South America, and 100,000 llamas in the United States.

Llama Facts

Llamas are used for breeding stock, pack animals, sheep guards, pets, and wool production. Llamas are intellinget and easy to train. In just a few session they will accept a halter, being led, loading in and out of a trailer, pulling a cart or carrying a pack. Lanolin-free, lightweight llama wool is warm, luxurious, and popular with spinners. Llamas are excellent packers. They can carry 75-125 lbs., but are not ridden. Their two toed foot, with it’s soft bottomed pad gives them great sure-footedness and that gives the llama an impact on the environment equivalent to that of a deer. They chew their cud like cattle and sheep, and because of relatively low protein requirement due to their efficient digestive system, they can be kept on a variety of pastures or hay. A low protein horse supplement may also be fed.

These highly social animals need the companionship of their species. Independent yet shy, llamas are gentle and curious. Their calm nature makes them easy for anyone, even children, to handle. Llamas communicate with a series of ear, body and tail postures, as well as a shrill alarm call and a humming sound. Spitting is the llamas way of saying "BUG OFF!" Normally used among llamas to divert annoying suitors, ward off a perceived threat or, most commonly, to establish pecking order at mealtime. An occasional llama who has been forced to tolerate excessive human handling may have developed an intolerance or fear of humans, and will spit if it feels threatened by them. Llamas do not bite.

 


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