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          Llamas and their relatives are no strangers to our land.  Llamas are members of the camelid family, which at one time thrived on the plains of North America.  With the Ice Age, llamas became extinct in North America.  Llamas migrated to South America and took up residence in the land of the Andean Mountains.

In the highlands of Peru, some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, llamas were domesticated, placing them among the oldest domestic animals in the world.  The llama was the lifeline of the Inca Indians of South America.  Called their "silent brother" by the Incas, the llama was worshipped and highly regarded.  The llama was their beast of burden, the source of clothing and a source of food as well as fuel.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, private animal collectors and zoos reintroduced llamas to their original North American homeland.  Today there are an estimated seven million llamas and alpacas in South America (in approximately equal numbers) and some 80,000 to 100,000 llamas in the United States and Canada.

Llamas started to become popular in the United States when an Oregon couple decided to promote them as domestic livestock and made them available to the general public.  Little was known at the time of the many functions that we would later find they served.  

Llama Facts

Average Birth Weight: 18 to 30 pounds  
Average Adult Weight: 250 pounds to 400 pounds  
Approximate Life Span: 20 years  

Breeding Ages of Llamas: 
Males - 2 to 2-1/2 years
Females - 18 to 24 months  

Female llamas are induced ovulators and can be bred at any time of the year.

Birthing

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Usually 350 days of gestation

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Usually one cria,  twins are very rare.

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Usually birth during daylight hours.

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Crias are weaned at approximately 6 months of age.

Health

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Generally disease-free and hardy in most climates.

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Require worming and vaccinating as with any other livestock.

Llama Colors

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White, black, brown, red, gray, spotted, tricolor

Shearing

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Recommended once a year in the spring.

LLAMA FACTS
 
The Environmental Animals of the 90s

      LLlamas are environmentally sensitive, intelligent creatures.  Their feet, comprised of soft pads with two toenails, impact the environment less than the boots of an average hiker, yet llamas are strong.  A conditioned llama can carry approximately 25% to 30% of its body weight, making a llama as strong, if not stronger, than a horse.

     Llamas are efficient foragers.  They have less impact on plant life than the native deer.  Often llamas require no supplemental feed when in areas with good forage, except at the end of the day as a treat for a job well done. In areas without adequate forage you may need up to two pounds of hay per day. Llamas are also easy to transport.  A small, partially enclosed pickup truck with racks will transport two adult llamas.  They travel lying down and also travel well in vans, stock trailers, boats and even airplanes.

     Llamas have discreet bathroom habits.  Their pelleted droppings, similar to those of a deer, are virtually odorless and are generally deposited in the communal dung pile.  This neatness minimizes parasite contamination, reduces fly problems and makes cleanup easier for the owner.  A llama's effective digestive system also helps to eliminate introduction of noxious weeds into the environment.  Breaking camp is simple - shovel or scatter the pile.

     Llamas are inexpensive to maintain.  With their efficient, three-chambered stomachs, llamas typically cost less to feed than a dog.  They browse on many types of forage, which reduces the need for expensive hay.  Depending on the climate, llamas can do well in a 3 sided shelter.  A 4' to 5' fence of wire or wood will usually suffice with an acre of land supporting two to four llamas.

     Llamas are great working partners and family pets.  They have predictable, calm responses to new situations.  Llamas are trustworthy.  Their intelligent, gentle nature allows even small children to interact with them.  The fiber of a llama can be spun and woven into sweaters, blankets, hats and the like.  Llamas are used in animal facilitative therapy because of their calming effects.  Families can get involved with llamas in 4H, Scouts, and other youth activities.

     Llamas don't bite, don't dig, don't bark and don't have fleas.  They are dependable companions for packing and jogging.  Llamas can be trained to pull carts and carry children.  With 6,000 years of working with humans, llamas have shown they offer the service of a horse with the upkeep of a dog!

 
2001  Midwest Manufacturing, Inc.
d/b/a Llama Lifestyle Marketing Association 
 bob@llama.org