Llama Information EVERYONE Should Know Before Buying Llamas!
The Reality.....

 

Llamas are a wonderful lifestyle and if purchased carefully can bring you many years of joy.

 

 ***If you have llamas, but do not know how to trim their nails, click HERE***

 ***If you have llamas, and want to see a nail trim in a chute, click HERE***

 

 

WHERE DO I START?

There is a wide range of uses and prices for llamas. Prior to purchasing a pair (llamas like llama company), a future buyer should do a lot of research. Buy books, search the world wide web, visit farms and ask a lot of questions! DO NOT buy the first llamas you see and don't buy from the first farm you visit. Once the future owner has done a lot of research and visited many farms, they should decide what they want to do with their llamas. People buy them for; pets, 4-H, fiber, packing, livestock guardians, showing, driving, investment and much more. Once the buyer has done their research and narrowed their interest, they are ready to shop.

 

NOW I AM READY TO SHOP...

Keep in mind that there is a cheap, reasonable, and expensive market with llamas. All livestock industries have high and low-end animals. Additionally, just because something is expensive does not mean it is a good animal. Like any livestock industry there are people that prey on potential owners. A free or cheap llama is usually a poor investment and should not be used in a breeding program most of the time. Free or cheap llamas make more free or cheap llamas that can ultimately have a poor quality of life (conformation problems, health problems and negelect). Keep in mind that even if you aren't going to show, it is important to remember that good breeders spend a lot on nutrition, care etc. that will add to the longevity of your animal. Reputable breeders care about their animals and do not just keep making more llamas they cannot sell. As a rule of thumb a good indication that a breeder is mass producing (like a puppy mill) is that they have more than just 2-3 babies and NONE are trained (see below). Additionally all the llamas look unkept (not sheared/brushed, long toenails), the facilities are dirty and records of animals are not available. Don't buy from these types of farms as it encourages them to continue with their poor practices! Reputable breeders will be more likely to replace (should your llama have health, breeding problems, not work out) or assist with future situations that may arise with animals you have purchased. Also don't buy male & female pairs because the male will breed the female and repeated breeding leads to infections! Males may breed as young as 7-8 months and females can get pregnant at an even younger age.

Even pet quality llamas need to be raised with good nutrition, care and training. Thinking a rescue is going to be friendly, easy or pack/drive/4-H and other jobs is not common. If you are serious, spend some money and buy an animal that is trained and well cared for.

 

WHY BUY TRAINED LLAMAS?

Even pet quality llamas need to be haltered for shots and need to have their legs touched to do toenails. At the very least your animal should be able to be easily haltered and have their legs lifted to do toenails before you buy them! Ask a seller to let you try halter, leading and picking up this llamas legs, if you cannot easily do this, we recommend you WALK AWAY! Untrained llamas and untrained owners are a bad combination! A restraint chute costs between $500-1000 dollars. Most people don't want to invest in this, so put the money into the training of the animal you buy.

 

WILL I MAKE A LOT OF MONEY?

Many people have bought llamas thinking they would make a lot of money with them. Be forewarned, very few people make money in llamas. Only about 5% of the market is making llamas a full time business. These individuals have thousands of dollars invested in their stock and do extensive promotion of it. Most people will never do llamas as a full-time business. By the time you market/advertise your animal, provide quality care (shots, minerals, shearing, vet bills, good feed) and train them, there is NO way you can break even......this is a reality! Most llama people have llamas because they enjoy them and most llama people that really love their llamas are only breeding a few of their VERY best if even that!

 

JNK'S ADVICE TO YOU

Our advice would be this:

 

1. Buy llamas for the use you intended.

Don't go to buy packers and come home with a good deal on two bred females. Don't assume because the breeder said the animal is trained or would make a good animal for a certain job, that they are capable of doing it. Some animals are not cut out to pack, do 4-H, guard sheep, etc... (We don't all want to work at McDonalds do we?) Guard llamas do not usually work out in other jobs as their primary job is guarding!

2. Walk away from farms that ignore your goals and try to sell you something else.

3. Pay a little bit more for a trained llama that is well conformed.

Good conformation can be identified by having a pre-purchase exam done by a recognized llama veterinarian or reputable llama person. Know that nearly every llama owner says their llama has good conformation and everyone has different degrees of what they think is good. Animals that are not conformationally sound may have leg problems, arthritis and other things that may keep them from being able to do the job you intended.

4. Hire or find someone who knows llamas and have them locate the animal you desire.

You don't know a lot about llamas and why not insure you will get the best animal for your needs and money. Don't assume that a llama breeder knows this information. Ask around and find out who is a reliable person to help you with this. Llamas live for about 20 years, so you are committing to caring for them for this time by buying them. Make sure this is a lifestyle that you want!

5. Start off with just two trained llamas.

After a year, if you are serious and willing to learn about conformation and how to select breeding llamas then it may be time to invest in breeding stock. The llama market has currently hit an all-time low. Too many people have been breeding with little or no knowledge of what they are actually breeding. The result has been a creation of poorly conformed, unhealthy and untrained llamas. Hence, animals that are free or cheap usually. These ignorant breeders have created more animals than they can care for or train. Why? Many breeders hope that they can get that one llama that will sell for a lot of money or they are just breeding to breed with no plan or consideration of the animals. Ultimately the llamas suffer from this indescriminate behavior! See articles about Breeding Males and Females

6. Be a good consumer.

Only buy from farms who sell trained animals that are registered (if you are planning on breeding or showing). A well trained gelding of good quality, starts at $500.00 and goes up from there depending on training, pack miles, show records, conformation, bloodlines etc. Don't be pressured into breeding or buying babies! New llama owners and babies ARE NOT a good combination. The llama knows nothing the new owner knows nothing and it ends up being a disaster in most cases........Would you buy an untrained baby horse as a new horse owner? Llamas go through many stages during their growing time (baby to four years old) and most new owners are NOT equipped to handle these changes with their limited knowledge.

7. Don't buy an older or crippled animal to use for a totally different use than they have been used for. (ie.9 year old breeding female for 4-H, this is not an appropriate match in most cases)

8. Llamas are a lot of fun, don't waste your time on animals that cannot be caught or trained, unless you are willing to put the time in to train/work with them. It may be free, but you will still have to feed it and care for it. Why own a pet you can't do anything with?

 

SO HOW DO I CARE FOR A LLAMA?

Llamas require fresh water, camelid minerals (a salt block is not enough, Stillwater Minerals are a good formula to use) and at least one flake of GOOD quality grass hay per day. A small three sided shelter suits their needs well. Once a year you will need to have them innoculated and twice a year (at least depending on what part of the country you are in, you should consult your local vet for specifics on care) they will need to be wormed. During the winter, (and other times) their feet need to be checked for foot disease (like human athletes foot) and their wool needs to be checked for wool diseases from the moisture or parasites. During the Summer you should shear longer wooled llamas and brush out shorter wooled llamas. Toenails need to be trimmed at the rate of about every two months, depending on how fast the llamas nails grow.

A well fitted halter and lead, and toenail clippers are a must for a new owner! Also, you should never leave any halters, collars or leads on your llama. This is a very dangerous practice and can result in injury or death to the llama.

 

Suggested Books you may read for more information are:

 

Gale Birutta's Book, "A Guide To Raising Llamas"

or

Sandi Burts Book, "Llamas, An Introduction To Care, Training and Handling."

 

As with anything you should always consult your local vet. This information is provided as helpful hints ONLY.

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