Llamas are social animals. If properly socialized they can make a very calm, gentle companion. They have a reputation for spitting, but this is more typical between llamas and usually not directed at people (unless poorly socialized). They also make a variety of sounds. Life span estimates range from 15-30 years. They are not small animals, weighing in at 250-450 lb., and being anywhere from 5' to 6"5' tall (36" to 47" at the shoulder).
Introduction to the Care of Llamas
Nutritional requirements and information on feeding are available on the LlamaOrg site. They can be fed on pasture as long as it is free from poisonous plants (as for cattle, sheep). Hay and complete rations are also acceptable. The type of feed available and what should be fed will vary by area. Also, supplementation with vitamins and mineral will depend on the area, and is best discussed with a veterinarian or agriculture extension specialist. Ample fresh water is absolutely essential at all times. As for housing, the amount and type of shelter is also dependent on the climate - in cold climates a barn or other windproof housing may be necessary, while in warmer climates a three sided shelter would likely do the trick. In really hot areas an roofed area with open sides is more effective to allow cooling air flow. Proper fencing is also necessary, to keep llamas in and (preferably) dogs out. The complexity of the fence depends on your situation; for example the number of llamas and how important it is to keep them separate. Llamas do need a companion - another llama of similar age is best (and unless you want a breeding farm, the same sex too!).
As for maintenance and health care, they do need grooming and shearing, as well as toe nail trimming. They are pretty hardy, but should have a vaccine schedule designed by a veterinarian based on potential disease threats in the area (a run down on the vaccines which should be considered is available on the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital site). The vet corner on the Shagbark Ridge Llamas site gives an alphabetical listing of health concerns. This list is very thorough, making it look like llamas are prone to lots of ills, but in general they are quite hardy, and do well as long as veterinary care is sought early on if something does go wrong. Remember though, that regular veterinary care will be required and may be expensive if health problems arise.
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