Buying tips
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Transporting llamas

Buying your llamas...  
... a few tips

You've decided to have some llamas...
 But how many? How old? Boys or girls? Or both...?
And what should you look out for? And how much should you spend?

Here are some pointers...
(Please also take a look at FAQs and Talking Llamas)

Male or female?
Bachelor groups of male (or gelding) llamas can be kept together, with harmony prevailing most of the time.
Female groups can also be kept without a male.
Should females be introduced to a male group, however, then the males will most likely need to be separated.
If you are sure that you will not ever want to breed your llamas, then at generally lower cost gelding or pet quality male llamas are the most sensible choice.
If you are thinking about breeding llamas, remember that at some stage youngsters will need to be separated from the parent stock.

How many?

A happy herd begins with at least two or three although the final number is, to some degree, a question of budget and facilities...
A llama should never be kept without the company of other field stock, preferably one or more llamas.
At least half an acre is required for two llamas and that is providing you will be able to let them graze other areas occasionally to rest the land; otherwise allow at least 3/4 acre of grazing. Thereafter calculate three llamas to the acre (and four if, again, you are able to rest the land for periods of time each year).
Strip grazing is feasible where for example more than one, smaller, area is available.
Llamas do usually bond well with other field stock so a single llama is not out of the question providing he or she will be grazed with other field stock that accept him; sheep, horses, etc. Indeed if to be used as a 'dedicated' flock guardian it is most effective if a single gelding.
Bearing in mind your facilities and growth of your group if you plan to let them breed, if possible consider a trio or more. In the case of a breeding group, the male is often apart from the female/s and is to some degree a 'loner', so two females are company for each other. In the case of a male group, three allows a greater degree of a group pecking order.
That said, ...

If you wish to breed your llamas...

Do you buy a group of females and take them to a stud male each year for mating? Buy a proven breeding pair? A young pair not yet ready to breed? Or perhaps a trio of male and two females?

If you wish to start with youngsters for breeding we do feel that, rather than starting with a breeding pair, it is better to start with two or more young females and either add a male the following year or bring them for stud service for their first mating. A cost effective option, this has a number of advantages...

The nature of the llama herd or group is such that the females tend to stick together whilst the male is the outsider, so a pair of females makes a better "group" than a pair  made up of male and female.
If you start with a young male and female, there is the possibility that the female will become pregnant too young.
By starting with two or more females and adding the male later you can be more certain that the females will not become pregnant too young.
Bringing your females to stud the first year of mating allows you to widen your gene pool considerably. This applies if you plan to buy a male later or even if you buy a male with your females.

If you do not wish your llamas to breed...

Female llamas usually cost considerably more  than male llamas (except for the higher quality stud quality males) and in a non-breeding set-up there is no gain... so it is sensible to consider males.
Entire males are generally as easily handled as female llamas. They have none of the ferocity of the bull, nor the pushiness of a ram, nor the wildness of a stallion, nor the danger of a rutting deer, nor the smell of a billy goat… It is not, therefore necessary to geld for temperament.
Some people consider it kinder, however, to geld if the llama/s will never be used for breeding.
Gelding is necessary if more than one male is to live with female llamas.

Ultimately, however, as with choosing colour, the decision is personal; again perhaps dependent on personal circumstances, budget, and - importantly - on your facilities.

The favourite option for buyers of "field pets", male or female, are yearlings (circa 9-15 months). We strongly advise, however, that you do not buy llamas at much under this age.
For serious breeders, a proven group of adults removes any uncertainty as to fertility and offers further advantages  ...

Commercial groups and herds

Breeding llamas can be a profitable business; there are so many different markets as you will realise from reading these web pages. These varied markets not only help keep demand above supply but they also mean that your "eggs are not all in one basket" such as breeding purely for fibre etc.
Trekking ventures are proving increasingly popular and for this we recommend at least four gelded llamas.
Adult females may not cost you a a great deal more than younger ones depending on quality and as they should produce calves more quickly, can offer the potential of a faster return for your outlay.
Consider breeding at the high quality end of the market, however. For whilst you must be prepared to pay a considerable premium for top quality adult breeding stock,  the returns as well as the satisfaction of breeding the best, makes this a viable option.
Choosing adults means you know precisely what you are getting in terms of size, final look, temperament etc…

Do check...

That the llamas you purchase for breeding are unrelated!
To offer a wide gene pool, the RoseLand  herd has been built up with many different bloodlines from imports we have undertaken from Chile, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, France etc... as well as some UK born stock.
Finding good quality adults can be difficult. Most llamas are sold as youngsters so if adults are offered, check why.
... e.g are they of suitable temperament, do they have good conformation, what is the wool quality and, most importantly, are they proven fertile?
Ensure they are suitable for your intended purpose.
Remember that temperaments vary enormously, so a llama suitable as a livestock guardian, for example, may not make a suitable field pet and vice versa.
Equally if all the important factors are in place, do expect to pay a premium over an animal where some of these factors are missing.

Do think ahead if you plan to breed your llamas. Although they breed slowly, each female having only one cria each year, the time when you will need to separate stock will come within a few months of your first offspring.

Important  considerations

Remember that llamas can live for twenty years or more, so do not rush into your decision!

Over the years we have often received requests for llamas as presents for Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, and even Valentine's & Wedding presents etc. This is absolutely fine - a wonderful & unique gift - providing you are absolutely certain that the recipient truly will...
... want the llama/s
... be prepared to keep them for their lifetime (15 plus years)
... be able to provide appropriate facilities 
... have the time to attend them as needed.
If you are considering giving llamas as a gift and if these factors are met, please see
Giving Roseland Llamas as a gift

Llamas are very pleasurable to own. By nature they are gentle and even-tempered. Anyone, including young children, should be able to wander freely and perfectly at ease among them including stud males and mothers with young calves etc.

As with all animals
, however, the wrong nurture can create a problem llama: totally irresponsibly some llamas are deliberately hand-reared or over-handled as youngsters in order to provide "cute and cuddly" babies for a 'Pets Corner', or to make them more saleable, or through sheer ignorance... Whatever the reason, when they grow up these will become unacceptably difficult and uncontrollable. So...

Never buy hand-reared llamas unless you understand fully, and are able to deal with, their potential to become unpleasant and even menacing.

Avoid the "very friendly" or pushy youngster that runs up to you and nuzzles you - he or she is almost certain to become a problem as an adult. The correct behaviour for a young llama is to be curious yet wary of humans.

Beware of the adult llama that the owner cannot handle, halter, and lead in a relaxed manner. If the llama is offered with excuses for why the seller cannot do these things when you visit, think twice and then twice more before buying.

Be very wary of a llama whose seller appears to be ill-at-ease with it. It does not matter how big the llama, if it has a good temperament it should be a pleasure to handle!

It bears repeating: We all know of the lovable cat or dog that needs re-homing and so comes at low cost or "free to a good home" but, whatever story given to you, beware the llama that is offered 'on the cheap' until you are fully satisfied that it has a suitable temperament etc.

Import of llamas into the UK from their homeland in South America was banned for most of the 20th century, so many llamas in the UK were bred from stock brought in at the end of the 19th Century!  As a consequence there has been considerable inbreeding. To ensure best health, potential longevity and fertility, check that the llamas you purchase are not from an inbred line.

Do not buy (or plan to have) more than one entire adult male with female llamas unless you are able to keep the males well apart.

We are always happy to discuss your ideas and interests, and advise on the best way forward. 

Questions? See our FAQs Page
& take a look at our
TalkingLlamas   forum

Llamas: For pleasure or profit - field pets, trekking, livestock guardians, fine fibre, farm diversification, companions for other field stock, or just to graze & grace your land. Welcome to Roseland

Confused?... Unsure?... More questions?... Or ready to go...!

Contact us

Paul Rose will be happy to
discuss your  particular requirements,
talk you through the options and - if you wish - arrange your visit.

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Stockleigh Pomeroy, Devonshire EX17 4AY, U.K