Pearl E Whites and Smokin’ Hot Spots (AKA Lorenzo) are two new additions to our farm. These gorgeous performance trained llamas came to us from Peloquin’s Perch and are registered with the International Lama Registry. We are pleased to have them as part of our Animal Ambassador program and as new members of our family.
Llamas are domesticated South American Camelids whom are known for their dignified appearance, curious nature and graceful mannerisms. They adapt easily to many different situations, are easily trained and have numerous uses. In their native land llamas are most commonly used for meat, fiber and as beasts of burden who can carry 50-125 pounds. In America llamas are used for breeding, packing, wool production, as companion animals, livestock guardians, therapy animals, showing, driving and performance training.
Lorenzo is a male appaloosa llama with gorgeous spots whom I secretly want to rename Lorenzo Llama. He is gorgeous, curious and is well on his way to being an amazing Animal Ambassador to use for public relations and our Sensory Petting Zoo.
Pearl is a cream colored llama with the appaloosa gene. She is graceful, curious and a little more cautious in her interactions. When haltered she is a natural at obstacles and is willing to try new things without much hesitation. She is an absolute joy to teach and is quite skilled at obstacles.
Both Lorenzo and Pearl are in training for obstacles, public relations, therapy visits and packing.
Llamas were first domesticated and used as pack animals by Indians in the Peruvian highlands and can carry about a quarter of their body weight. Llamas are very aware of their own limitations and a llama that is over-weighted will simply kush (lay down) or refuse to move.
Llamas come in a range of solid and spotted colors including: black, grey, beige, brown, red and white. In the Andes Mountains of Peru, llama fleece has been shorn and used in textiles for about 6,000 years. Good quality llama fiber is soft, light, warm and water-repellent. Llama fiber is one of the strongest fibers, second only to mohair.
Llamas are vegetarians with efficient digestive systems due to their stomach’s three compartments known as the rumen, omasum and abomasum.
The current population of llamas and alpacas in South America is estimated to be more than 7 million, and there are about 158,000 llamas and 100,000 alpacas in the U.S. and Canada today.
Llama manure is known as ‘llama beans’ and has virtually no odor. It is an eco-friendly fertilizer. Research has found that manure from llama herds provided fertilizer which enabled corn to be cultivated at very high altitudes – a key component in the success of the ancient Inca civilization. The Incas also used llama manure as fuel to cook and make ceramics.
Another interesting fact about llamas is that they have a high content of hemoglobin in their bloodstream and the shape of their red blood cells is oval and not circular. These characteristics are adaptations which contribute to the llama’s ability to adapt and live in an oxygen-poor, high altitude environment.
Life expectancy of llamas is about 15-25 years.
Llamas weigh between 250-400 pounds at maturity and are about 5 feet six inches tall.
Llamas have soft, padded, cloven feet perfectly designed for negotiating rocky areas. Each foot has two separate, long toes with a nail on the end of each, that allow for excellent traction on rocky surfaces. Llamas use their long necks for balance and are strong and agile climbers.
Llamas have large eyes and excellent vision, designed for life in the mountains where the sky is bright, and snow falls regularly. To help with glare and avoid snow-blindness, their eyes are designed with special sunshades built in, that look like a curtain of ruffles hanging in the eyeball, and close like Venetian blinds when needed.
Llamas are highly social animals that need the companionship of their own species. Independent, yet shy, llamas are gentle, calm in nature and curious. Their regal appearance and gentle mannerisms make them both fascinating and interesting animals to interact with and observe.
Although Female llamas are able to conceive as early as six months of age they are generally first bred between 20-24 months of age, depending on maturity and weight. Llamas are prone breeders, meaning the male is on top, and copulation can take up to 45-minutes. Llamas do not have a heat cycle, but are copulation induced ovulators, meaning they can be bred at any time of year so care must be taken when choosing to breed a llama so that a cria will not be born during extremely hot or cold temperatures.
The gestation period for a llama is 11.5 months or 350 days. The female llama generally gives birth to a single cria without assistance, standing up, during daylight hours. Twin births are extremely rare. The baby (cria) is generally up and nursing within 90-minutes.
Llamas are highly social animals who interact within herds. Llamas should ideally be kept with their own kind, however, in the absence of another llama they are known to bond with other livestock animals, such as sheep.
Their gentle nature and naturally inquisitive personality make them ideal companions and therapy animals.
Llamas communicate with a series of tail, body and ear postures as well as clicks, gurgles, and hums. Spitting is something llamas do with each other to solve disagreements, claim dominance or express their displeasure. Llamas generally do not spit on people unless they have not been socialized or raised properly and view humans as their own kind.
A llamas protein requirement is very low in most cases a very good quality grass hay or pasture is enough to maintain healthy weight. Supplemental feed (pellets) can be given Llamas to ensure that they are getting the proper amount of vitamins and protein. Llamas can do extremely well on a maintenance diet of 8 to 10% crude protein. Growing weanlings, advanced pregnant and nursing mothers require a 10 to 12% protein ration.
Any male llama that is not used for breeding purposes by a knowledgeable breeder should be gelded. Generally llamas are gelded between 18 months – 2 years of age. A gelded llama may still attempt to breed.
Rojo the llama is probably one of the most well known therapy llamas in the United States. Well socialized and trained llamas are often used for therapy visits to schools, community centers, assisted living facilities, hospitals and have even become popular guests at wedding receptions.