What Are Llamas Good For On A Farm
Llamas were first domesticated 4,000 to 5,000 years ago in the Andean Highlands. Many prominent people, including William Randolph Hearst, imported llamas to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Typical weight of adult llamas can range from about 250 to 450 pounds. Th eir height at the shoulder is 42 to 45 inches, and at the head from 5 1/2 to over 6 feet tall. Llamas can live 20 to 25 years. Th ey come in a wide array of colors from white to black, with shades of grey, brown, and red in between. Th ey range from one solid color to various patterns and spots. Th ere are different types of llamas: the wooly llama, the classic llama, the suri llama, and the silky llama.
Llama prices vary regionally, with pet-quality animals costing as little as $500. Prices depend upon the age, sex of the animal (males usually cost less), quality of breeding or show stock, and bloodlines. Th e low end of the female price range is $2,000.Llama owners need to consider which of the creature’s multiple uses will fi t with their goals.
Llama owners who plan to market breeding llamas will probably need to get pedigreed stock.
Th e history of the llama as a pack animal began about 5,000 years ago with the natives of South America, who found llama packing to be the ideal way of transporting goods through rugged terrain.
A robust llama can pack 25 to 30 percent of its body weight, or 70 to 95 pounds. Llamas are sure-footed in the most diffi cult terrain and have a low impact on trails compared to traditional pack animals. Th ey usually obtain adequate food and water from browsing while walking, though harsher environments will require the packer to bring additional food and water.
Pack llamas are used by a variety of professions, including hunters, fishermen, government land management, rescue work, trail maintenance crews, and scientists transporting delicate equipment into the field (RMLA, no date). Before packing, take care to understand how the saddle should be used, as well as the balance and weight appropriate for your animal. Llamas under the age of two should not be loaded, and no llama should be fully loaded until it is well-trained and fully matured (usually at four years of age).
Llamas can also be used as guardians for livestock, including cattle, sheep, and poultry. As a herd animal, the llama is particularly attentive to menaces (Walker, 2003). Llamas are natural guardians due to their inherent wariness of the dog family.
An Iowa State University study found that, on average, producers were losing 26 sheep, or 11 percent of their flock to predation, compared to eight sheep, or 1 percent, after obtaining guard llamas. Most guard llamas are gelded males, and can be kept with anywhere from four to over 2,000 sheep. Many of the llamas in the study adjusted to the livestock within a few hours, and 80 percent were adjusted within
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