Keeping llamas as pets has been increasing in popularity for people lucky enough to have the space and time to look after these beautiful creatures. A common question for those new to llama care is what to feed llamas.
Llamas are adaptable grazers and they tend to eat a lot of the time during the day.
On my back lawn
Llamas are called pseudo ruminants; they have three stomachs, not four like other ruminants such as sheep and cows.
Another interesting feature is their upper lip, which is split with each side being able to move independently. This helps llamas be very selective about what they eat.
I had to supplement their feed as our grass was deficient in many trace elements and minerals required for good health.
A quiet moment -not eating
So I also gave them special llama pellets containing these trace elements and this was perhaps their favourite food.
When I was breeding them, we planted about a thousand fodder trees with edible leaves for the llamas. We planted Acacia Saligna trees and Saltbush, however it was the Acacia Saligna that they loved.
Eating Acacia Saligna trees
We ended up having to build double fencing as otherwise they just ate the small trees which did not get a chance to grow.
Most of them however, never really got to be a large tree, as they were eaten down too quickly!
Double fencing with Acacia trees inside
They also demolished a lemon tree in one of the paddocks and they just LOVED mulberries and their leaves!
They would jump on to two legs to get at the mulberries once they had eaten the lower ones, and this would result in an argument with their breeder, ME, who went to pick the mulberries every few days only to find the tree quite bare apart from the top!
I would also buy in some oaten hay in big rolls though their favourite hay was the richer green, lucerne, which I only gave them part of the time.
They tend to put on too much weight if eating Lucerne all the time. We also built hay stands so that the hay would not get wet.
Hay stand in background
Most days I would give them a treat of carrots, however they eat almost any vegetable or fruit and just loved watermelon.
Hand feeding a llama at a country Show
At one stage we tried planting vegetable seeds in a paddock, however made the mistake of putting the llamas in that paddock one day, and the next day all the seedlings that had sprouted up, were gone.
I also used to go to the local Fruit shop and get a whole lot of scraps and they devoured these and came running when they saw me with plastic bags - they seem to eat almost anything, even stone fruit! (I took out the stone fruit eventually as did not like the idea of them eating the pips)
There are, of course, as with most animals, many things that are poisonous to llamas and those in gardens include oleander, rhododendron, and laburnum.
SOME others which are toxic to llamas include:
St Johns wort
The cria, or baby llama, feeds exclusively from the mother for a week or two when they then start to nibble at grass.
A cria feeding
In summary, llamas are very easy to look after, they can adapt to their feeding situations and they rarely get sick.
As with all animals, I believe they are better off not being overfed, and they are relatively cheap to feed.
If you have any specific questions regarding the care of your llamas, please speak with a qualified veterinarian.