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Wet feet - Poisonous plants - Dung piles - Fibre Loss
Pair behaviour - Stud as Guard Llama - Geriatric llamas - Fertility - Llama Karma - Abscess - Toenails

We understand that llamas have tough feet that are not prone to things like foot-rot and certainly our trio have never had a problem. But this winter has been the wettest in history in Kent and our paddock whose drainage is not great has been a virtual bog for several months now and we are worried about their feet. Do you have any advice. Roger R. It has been the wettest winter in recorded history for most of the UK and we  have had the same worries and uncertainty as to its effect here in Devon too.  There must be a limit to the ability of  llama's feet to withstand such wet conditions. We have been bringing our herd into the yard ever week or so and doing spot checks on their feet, especially the youngsters and oldest, but so far so good and we have not found any that are suffering any ill effects; sores, chapping or lameness. 
In fact their resistance to these adverse conditions has been quite remarkable. 
For those that have the facility, bringing llamas on to hard-standing or into stabling is another option. We prefer to keep ours out, however, as much as possible.

We would very much like to hear from other owners if their llamas have suffered from being in these exceptionally wet conditions not only as far as their feet are concerned but general health too.
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Is it safe to let llama browse where there is bracken? We would like them to roam out of the fields in the summer but are a little concerned just in case it is poisonous.
Sue T


Bracken is classified as a poisonous plant but then sheep seem to know not to eat it (they graze freely here on Dartmoor and Exmoor where it is common). On the other hand sheep may have learned the hard way over millennia of naturalisation: 
In South America llamas will have learned instincts as to which local plants are poisonous. 
It is, therefore, a potential hazard when introducing animals to new territory where they do not know the flora, that they will not recognise the plants to avoid. Some say they are warned off by the (often bitter) taste but I have certainly heard of llamas poisoned by Yew here in the UK.
 If anyone "out there" has experience of llamas grazing land with bracken, or being poisoned by it (or any other UK flora), we would be grateful to hear back: Contact TalkingLlamas

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When I bought my llamas I was told they would dung in a communal heap. Mine don't! I know this is probably not a serious problem but I'm curious, is something wrong? Jenny K. We asked the same question when we started! Our llamas mostly consider the whole field their communal dung pile. It can be a problem as they do not eat the grass around the pile and this area grows as the rest of the field diminishes. I think the truth is that in certain circumstances llamas dung in communal piles but we have not worked out what those certain circumstances are! Certainly our stud males when on their own will make very neat piles, but that's hardly communal!

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My llamas are shedding fur really badly. Is this usual? Sandra T. Some llamas seem to moult more than others, especially on the neck, whilst some do not moult at all. This process does not seem to respect seasons either and may be an inherited characteristic, or stress from mating, calving etc. Check for worms and skin parasites.

Some llamas seem to have a tendency to lose their neck hair while others don't. Any thoughts on that aspect? Pete W

I seem to remember a U.S University (Colorado?) was studying neck hair loss but never heard the results. R.N.C

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My llamas appear to be losing handfuls of wool. I was wondering if you could tell me whether it is normal for them to lose large quantities of wool/moult, or whether maybe I should have concerns about nutrient deficiencies or something? Any advice would be greatly appreciated… Jo T If they're actually getting bald or near bald patches there may a problem of some sort: skin infection, parasites or nutrition deficiency (I doubt nutrition deficiency).... It's obviously difficult for you to determine what is "normal" but if your own feelings tell you it is excessive it might be worth having your vet check them. First have a look at the skin for any crustiness, peeling, soreness etc. They may need worming more frequently and Ivomec (not licensed for llamas) should get rid of any parasites.

Why not nutrition deficiency? Sam

Fair point! Any answers?

Question: Would the age of these llamas range from 12-24 months? If so then it is likely that their hormones have established causing them to present with the attributes of a short to medium fibred llama i.e loss of neck and lower leg fibre.

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I bought a pair of llamas to keep each other company but they do not seem to like each other. At first Hardy would bother Kismet until she was really upset, now she seems to be giving him a hard time. How can I get them to be friends? John A.


Being a llama can be a bit of a dog's life! The male has his moment of glory when a receptive female is 'empty' but once she is in-calf she will usually reject all his advances and not even allow him too close. Do not worry, two llamas apart in the same field are still company for each other compared to one on its own.

That's Llama Llife. Ted.

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I was given a ten year old male llama who was no longer required as a stud which I accepted to use as a guard for my sheep. Most of the time he ignores them and his only contact has been to try to mate some of them? How can I train him to be a proper guard? Martina P


Sorry, you can't train him! The fact that this llama was being given away was probably a good clue! After eight years as a stud with other llamas he will be too set in his ways to adapt to this new way of life. Even gelding him at this late time is unlikely to reduce his male urges!

Llamas make excellent sheep (goat & free-range poultry) guards but, whilst no guarantees, the key to success is selection of the right llama in the first place. P.R.
Click on Livestock Guardians .

If you will accept a few words from an ex-pat living in Canada I would say this is the major bugbear here too and is very worrying indeed! Either less-than-honest owners or ignorant owners are dumping unwanted and totally inappropriate males on unsuspecting farmers and then the llama fails to please. The farmer then spreads word of his displeasure far more rapidly than the farmer who went to an expert, paid an appropriate price and is delighted. Bad news always travels fastest. But the facts speak for themselves, like you say - a llama properly chosen by someone who understands the subject will usually work wonders. James T, B.C

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I lost a lovely llama aged fifteen. The vet considered it simply to be following liver failure in old age. I thought she would live into her twenties. What are your thoughts about this please? Veronica. L


This is a question close to our hearts too: one which more and more owners will have to face as time in this relatively new (for Europe/North America) industry goes on.

On the whole I cannot help wondering if longevity is exaggerated. Sure some live into their twenties but is this a true average? Over-feeding on rich pasture is a common tendency of loving owners and over-weight llamas are likely to live less long. Over-feeding of concentrates in particular is likely to lead to early liver failure.

We would be especially interested to receive more feedback on geriatric llamas and the (average) ages experienced with your llamas.

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I have five female llamas and two unrelated stud males. All gave birth this summer but only one gave birth on the expected date after first mating. Does the problem lie with the llamas, their feed or what? Alec F


Have your soil checked for copper  deficiency. Sandy

And/or selenium deficiency and zinc deficiency (which locks in the copper/selenium.




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I have read that some people are using their llamas in therapy?. Is this true and does it really help? Anon. Llamas do seem to have a special affinity with the young and elderly. For more on this topic visit Llama Karma

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Hello, I wonder if you can help? I have a twelve year old female llama with a bad abscess in the bone of her jaw. My vet says she is too old to operate and we've tried every antibiotic with no success of eliminating it. Unfortunately I cannot look after her properly because I am away a lot. Would someone like to have her at no charge providing they are prepared to bathe and clean her abscess daily? I am in the Midlands. Rhona Visit our  Help-a-llama page



I have three llamas, a male and two females. One of the females toe nails need trimming although the others are absolutely fine. She will not let me pick up her feet. What should I do? And why haven't the others' nails grown too?


The need to trim does vary greatly from llama to llama. We have many whose nails have never need trimming in ten to fifteen years whilst others have required an occasional trim. Generally, depending on the ground they live on, the nails will wear down or break off as they grow. Occasionally, however, some will get too long and too hard to break off.

As with most management needs that are not emergencies and that your llamas are not used to, plan ahead. In this case even though the nails need trimming, it can probably wait a few days/weeks longer and this time can be spent preparing the llama to accept the work. Start by brushing and stroking from the head along and down the body along to the legs. Importantly always stand in a position that will avoid kicks should they come. If the llama is unco-operative, just start again and keep trying. Most will come to accept these actions. Once you are stroking at the top of the legs, try to gradually push the boundaries, going further down the legs each time. With patience and repetition - in short sessions- you should find your llama accepts this until eventually you reach the feet. As you progress, change from stroking to gentle then firm holding of the leg as your hand slides down it.

The aim is to get to the point where your llama will allow you to lift her feet. However, even if you never get to that point, at least after a couple of weeks of repeated leg stroking and leg holding, then the unavoidable need to trim should be far less traumatic for the llama and involve far less difficulty when you come to carry it out. Whilst it may need two of you, one to hold the leg, the other to trim, the best result will be achieved if restraint is minimised in the way suggested.

Any other suggestions?

Yes, if the above fails - and I suspect it will in a lot cases, you may need your vet to sedate your llama. Gary.



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