Most Frequently Asked Questions
- Do llamas spit?
I tell people that llamas like to spit as much as we like to throw up. Do they spit? Yes Do they like to? No, they actually will spit as a very last re-sort as they have given the other animal all kinds of body language to tell him to “bug off!” They actually do throw up when they spit (as it is their cud) and then for the next 20 minutes they walk around with their mouths open to try to air out the taste. They reserve spitting for very serious occasions—don’t get near my food and a female will tell a male she is pregnant and to “forget it.” Those are the two major causes for a spit fight. Rarely do llamas spit at humans yet every person who asks that question seems to have been spit on by a llama at a zoo or petting zoo. Llamas who actually spit at humans on a regular basis have been raised incorrectly and the animal is mentally confused. A normal llama reserves spitting for his llama friends and only when all else fails. Actually, when you think about it, it isn’t as bad as being bitten or kicked or stomped. J
- What are llamas used for?
Llamas are maybe the most versatile of all livestock. First and foremost, they are used as pack animals carrying up to 1/3 of their body weight. Second, they have magnificent fiber to be made into yarn or other products. Don’t believe the myth that llamas do not have nice fiber. Third, they are wonderful sentries if you live on a farm and have a flock of sheep or herd of alpacas. A good guard will see danger and alert the owner and herd with a high pitched alarm call. Fourth, because of their calm and gentle nature, llamas make fantastic therapy animals. Fifth, they can also be trained to pull a sulky like cart. Sixth, people show them and to watch the children work with and show these big gentle giants is great fun. Owning llamas is a great family affair. Seventh, llamas have even been used to caddy for the golfer. Eight, last but not least, llamas make great pets and lawn mowers.
- What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?
There are four major differences. The most obvious is size, the second obvious is price. Alpacas cost 2-3 times more than llamas. In the late 80’s early 90’s llamas were where alpacas are now in their pricing. The third difference is their dispositions. Llamas live intimately with the families in South American—taking the goods and kids to town, carrying heavy loads etc. The alpacas are rounded up once a year from the mountains, sheared and released. Because of their jobs, one a “work horse,” the other a fiber producer, the llama is more laid back about life, the alpaca tends to be more nervous. Fourth, llamas are more versatile in their usefulness; alpacas are predominantly fiber growers. One animal is not better than the other; they are just different. Become well educated about both. Visit a llama farm and go to an alpaca farm, seeing and observing is one of the best teachers.
- Are they difficult to care for?
To feed two llamas for a year will cost you about $300. They are incredibly easy in terms of livestock, but they are just that, livestock. They go to the bathroom in communal dung piles which makes clean up relatively easy and vetting is at a minimum if you can give your own shots. They do require some routine deworming and two yearly vaccinations. Compared to other livestock, the amount of vetting is very little. They seem to be rather disease resistant and hardy.. They do need to be sheared once a year and the toenails trimmed on a regular basis. Overall, they are relatively easy to keep. They are respectful of fencing and are quiet. When we first got our llamas, it took me 15 minutes a day to feed and clean up after all 4 of them. Be careful, llamas are like chips you cannot just have a few. We started with 4 and now have hover at 35.
5. Can you get the same tax breaks for your farm as with alpacas?
Absolutely! These animals are so versatile that you can create a business with them without having to get into becoming a breeding farm which is a costly initial investment. You can have a hiking business, “say it with llamas” business, educational program business, fiber products and the list goes on. All farm expenses can then be written off. Of course, all of this needs to pass by the advice of your accountant.. Look into it.