Llamas are easy animals to care for and maintain. Because they are herd animals, they need companionship. Single llamas alone in a pasture will not be happy. Many kinds of fencing are suitable for their pasture. I prefer a 4 foot mesh fence with steel posts because this is inexpensive. But other types of fencing, such as split rail, work too. Llamas generally prefer to be inside the pasture, not outside, so the fences just mark the boundaries for them.
Llamas need a basic shelter such as a three sided shed facing downwind, some pasture in which they can run, water and food, and a certain amount of individual attention. I have my herd of 17 llamas within 4 or 5 fenced pastures that occupy about two acres of land. My maintenance generally takes less that one hour per day for the whole herd.
Housing: Llamas generally like open access to the out of doors. My llamas are housed in a normal dairy barn in the winter but the doors are kept open to allow them access to the outside whenever they choose. In the winter when we have thick snow falls they stay inside, but otherwise they come ad go as they wish. Some of the llamas are in a pasture with a three sided shed that I built in one weekend. They have enough room for protection from the rain and wind, but in the summer they mostly stay outside.
Feeding: Llamas do not east a large amount of food. On average, one of my llamas consumes about 20 bales per year. In the summer they eat mainly grass, but in the winter they eat only hay. I supplement the juveniles and the pregnant or nursing moms with regular oats mixed with llama pellets. I also provide a mix of minerals in a side dish that they sample on demand. In the winter I place their water in heated buckets that I fill every day. Each llama consumes about one gallon of water in the winter.
Health: During the warm seasons when the llamas are grazing outdoors I have a vet visit my herd monthly. The purpose is to give them ivermectin, an anti–parasite medication, to prevent them from being infected by the meningeal worm. This infection is spread by deer, which are numerous in my area (see http://www.shagbarkridge.com/info/menin.html). Otherwise there is little medical care that they need on a regular basis. My annual vet expenses average about $40.00 per llama.
Personal care: Individual llamas require two types of personal care that is easy for anyone to supply. First, their wool coat should be sheared each spring so that they will not be adversely affected by the heat in the summers. This can be done by an individual, or you can hire someone to do the job for you. The cost is about $25 to $35 per animal. Also, their toenails need clipping whenever they grow too long. This too can be done by anyone, but for some animals a restraining shoot is needed. Some lamas need clipping only once per year, but others need clipping more often. It is also a good idea to establish a brushing routine to keep the wool clean, especially if you want to show your llamas or bring them to public places. It is fairly easy to couple brushing with feeding a treat, such as oats.
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