Llama Question and Answer Page heading Ambassador drawing




This page has discusses their temperament, how they are with children,
fencing, transportation, birthing and babies, and more.

(Updated December 15, 2001)


List of questions:

  Find the answer!

Can you eat them?

In South America not only the pumas eat them, but thousands are slaughtered for meat every year.

In North America, most breeders shudder at the thought, but there are a few every year that end up in the freezer.



Llama meat
being air dried
for jerky
in a remote
Andean village
in Chile.

What is their temperament?

Llamas have to be the calmest, most tolerant livestock there is. They are very quiet, never complaining if their human servants are a little late putting out their hay or feed. The occasional one will get a little pushy over food, but mostly they are pretty laid back. When visitors to our farm meet llamas for the first time they are invariably amazed by how friendly and gentle they are.

Often in the evenings, just before dark, the young ones will get frisky and run around the pasture, pronking, or bouncing with all four feet off the ground. This is often catchy and the adults will join in the chase.


Are they good with children?

Llamas are curious about most humans and like to sniff them. They seem to understand that children are not a threat and are normally very trusting. This, of course, is assuming that the children are not hyperactive and making sudden moves towards the llamas or chasing them around the field.

We often have pre-schools visit our farm and the llamas have always been well-behaved around they youngsters. Some of the children are more afraid of the llamas than the llamas are of them. Once a llama eats out of a child’s hand, the child is usually captivated by the animals.

The photo on the right is our grandson Graham at the age of nine months introducing himself to the llamas.



What kind of fencing do they need?

Llamas usually respect a fence. A good board or wire fence is adequate, but should keep dogs out. Barbed wire is not necessary and most breeders don’t use electric fences. Unless being chased by a predator, llamas normally have no reason to jump a fence. Our fences are about four feet high and we don’t have any problems. If there is a male across the fence from open females we will make that fence a little higher. Often large farms will have a passage way between fence lines to lessen the chances of animals jumping a fence.

Be aware though, they are good jumpers and often a young animal that is being weaned will jump a fence to get back to mom. If they do get out they usually don’t travel too far, as being a herd animal, they like to keep the rest of the animals in sight. When this happens our neighbours either phone us or round them up.


This female guanaco
shows how easy it is
to leap over a fence.

It is about half an hour
since she delivered a baby.





How do you transport them?

Trailer

Most often llamas are transported in a livestock trailer. However, they normally lie down in a “kushed” position with their legs tucked underneath while they are travelling. Because of this they will travel quite happily in the back of a pickup with a canopy.

Many people train them to travel in a van and they seem to be quite content lying there looking out the window. They tend to get a little attention though from other drivers who happen to notice the van passengers. Viscount, the llama lying in the van in the lower photo, loads easily and seems to enjoy the view while travelling.


Viscount in van

What we did recently was to purchase a cargo trailer shown above and get a couple of windows put in and a couple of vents on the roof. Cargo trailers are about half the price of a horse trailer and llamas weigh about a fifth of what a horse weighs so a heavy trailer isn’t really necessary.

Notice the two rings on the sides of the trailer. These are very handy as often you need a place to temporarily tie the llamas when you arrive at a location.

The graphics on the trailer were done by B.C. Decal Depot in Kelowna.

When do they have their babies?

The guanacos in Patagonia have their offspring, which are called “chulengos”, in the spring or early summer, around the end of November. The gestation is 350 days and they breed again in two weeks which ensures that the babies are born at the same time every year. The young females will not be bred until they are two years of age.

Domesticated llamas can be bred pretty well any time of the year, but most breeders try to avoid the extreme temperatures of the winter and summer. Llama babies are called “crias” which is the South American term for “offspring”.




This proud guanaco
is showing off
her chulengo
who is about
one day old.

Do llamas need help when birthing?

Not normally. Usually they have their crias during the day and often between about ten in the morning and around two in the afternoon. Nobody told our llamas this rule though, as we have had births as early six in the morning, and as late as midnight. Most often the female will be standing up when the baby is born, but if they are uncomfortable or it has taken a long time, they may deliver it while lying down. Once the front feet and head are out, we relax, knowing that everything is proceeding as it should. Luckily, twins are extremely rare. The crias usually weigh between twenty and thirty pounds.

The Llama Birthing Page is a page that we have put together for people who are expecting their first crias and would like to know what to expect. It has quite a few photos of the birthing process so it may take some time to load, but if you haven’t been through a llama birth it may give you some confidence.



The cria will usually hang in this position
for ten minutes or so, which helps drain any
fluid from the nasal passages. The drop
to the ground after this certainly gets
its attention.

Normally the cria will be up on its feet
within ten to fifteen minutes
and will be soon looking for a drink.

It is very important that the cria gets
some colostrum within the first few hours.

For more information see:

What do llama crias look like?

This link will take you to a page that shows pictures of half a dozen adorable llama crias from three days to six months of age.


How much should my cria weigh?

Q. We have a three-month-old baby girl. We just took her in for her booster shots and the vet said she was slightly underweight (she weighed 60 lbs.) and to start feeding her grain. I told him I had tried, but she was not interested at all. He recommended trying COB, but that was unsuccessful too. I’m starting to get a little concerned about her as the cold wet weather is starting here.

A. I checked had a look at our statistics and most of ours weigh 60 lbs at five or six weeks of age so your vet is correct. Part of it would depend on how much the cria weighed at birth and how good a start she got. At birth our crias average between twenty-seven and twenty-eight pounds.

If they are less than 20 lbs when born, it takes a little longer for them to catch up to the normal size for age ratio. Also, I would suspect that mom didn’t have quite enough milk for the baby. We sometimes give moms like that a little alfalfa to try and boost the milk production. If the crias are going under mom too often, such as every twenty minutes, you know that they are not getting enough. You should see them under every forty-five minutes to an hour when they are young.

What we do with the cria though is try and get them onto grain as soon as possible and sometimes they do resist. For many years we have used a dairy ration which has molasses in it and they do get a taste for it pretty quickly usually. Now our local feed mill makes a llama ration with the proper minerals added. They seem to like these better than COB which is drier and not as sweet.

If you hold the youngster between your legs you can stuff a little grain into its mouth. Put your index finger at the side of its mouth and work it around a bit, touching the tongue. This will get the mouth working and it will swallow the grain. After doing this a few times, she should learn to like the grain. You can also do this with fine alfalfa leaves.

You should have a creep feed area where the youngsters can get in and eat without the adults interfering. Leave some grain in there as well as some nice alfalfa and good hay and I think that you will find that she will start to eat really well on her own.

You don’t want to overdo the grain though. Don’t leave too much out, just a few ounces at a time.

As long as she has plenty of energy she should be OK, when you see them running around the fields, you know that they are healthy. If she was lying around with no energy, that would be the time to get concerned and contact your vet again.


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Index to the Question and Answer Pages

Page One Page Two Page Three (Present Page)
Are there different kinds of llamas? What are their feet like? Can you eat them?
Where do llamas come from? Do they spit? What is their temperament?
Are they expensive? Could I have one as a pet? Are they good with children?
What do llamas eat? What can you do with them? What kind of fencing do they need?
What kind of shelter do they need? Can you ride them? How do you transport them?
What kind of sounds do they make? Are they hard to train? When do they have their babies?
How big do they get? Are there any unpleasant odors? Do llamas need help when birthing?
Do they bite? What are their natural enemies? What do llama crias look like?
Do llamas lose their baby teeth? What do you call a baby llama? How much should my cria weigh?


Page Four Page Five Page Six
Cria questions, nursing, cria coats How do you shear llamas? Breeding questions
Is baby “poop”yellow? How long do llamas live? Eating bark
Llama feeding and treats Can llamas be used for therapy? Scientific classification
Behaviour questions How do I earn my llama’s trust? Birthing and dog questions
Llama gaits Handling young llamas Training commands
Llamas with horses, halters, gelding Will they eat out of my hand? How much space do they need?
How do I trim toenails? Why is my llama standoffish? Barbed wire and electric fences
Black colour Should we groom our youngsters? What is their spit like?
Can I have intact males together? What about leading youngsters around? Llama “poop”
Deadly nightshade Problem with choking Llamas and deep snow


Page Seven Page Eight Page Nine
Shedding wool Children’s llama books Llamas as sheep guards
Can llamas eat apples? Where can I find llama songs for children? Grooming brushes
Fighting with other animals Can llamas be fed alfalfa? How much can they carry?
Protecting other llamas Llamas and goats Do llamas swim?
Skittish llama and haltering Llama and new horse What colour are llamas?
Mouth abscess Llamas and coyotes What colour is llama milk?
Why is my llama afraid of me? Do llamas get ticks? Are there shows about llamas?
Intact males with other llamas Do llamas get fleas? Do they tolerate new dogs?
Can I have a cria with an intact male? Getting a llama to kush What is the best age to buy a llama?


Page Ten Page Eleven Page Twelve
Can they eat corn? Llamas vs alpacas How is “llama” pronounced?
Pooping in the barn Blue-eyed llamas When do you wean babies?
Llamas and cats How fast can a llama run? How tall do they get?
Llamas and freezing weather How do you estimate their age? What does clucking mean?
How far can they go? Llamas crossed with emus??? Llamas and heavy loads
Spitting llama Llamas eating pine trees Halter fitting
Touching young llamas Males and females together? Do llamas guard poultry?
Llama kisses How do you clean llama wool? What do you call a group of llamas?
What do you call a female llama? Will llamas eat blackberries? Llama anatomy


Page Thirteen Page Fourteen Page Fifteen
How are llamas identified? Cooling off llamas Breeding related llamas
Picketing llamas at night while hiking Breeding for spring or fall birthing Attacking a haltered llama
Will llamas avoid poisonous plants? Female won’t spit at the male Llamas eating fences
Moving a pregnant llama Stopping spitting behaviour Spotting a sick llama
I can’t get near my new cria How did the llama get its name? Feeding a greedy llama
My baby llama cries Telling genders apart My llama attacked me
Can I put the male with new baby? Washing a llama
Can males share a pasture with females? Poisoning treatment
Are people allergic to llamas? Fun questions we have received

Who made these pages?






Mount Lehman Llamas Farm Page