Our new farm additions are finally home, and I am so excited to share them with you all! Lama’s (alpaca and llama) were not originally on our radar. I had llamas growing up and to be quite honest, I didn’t like them. They weren’t interacted with and always seemed a little too rude for my taste, so when we made the decision to get a llama (and consequently 2 alpaca) I was a little apprehensive.
But as soon as they unloaded the trailer I knew this was right and that they were home. Everyone: meet Cleo (white alpaca), Calliope (brown alpaca), and Hercules (llama).
Cleo and Calliope are huacaya alpaca and are approx 4 and 6 and have the possibility of being pregnant due to running with intact males on the farm. Hercules is a 2-year old gelded male llama (which means he cannot sire any babies) and will be great at his job.
You can follow along with our journey and see more videos/photos on Instagram: @theroostingplace
Here’s the big question: why lamas? Well, it’s storytime ladies and gentlemen:
Our property has a one-acre pond that is fed by a creek. Because of this, during the winter months (Jan-Mar) we are frequently visited by a lone coyote that travels the creek, probably to travel to his breeding grounds. Usually, it’s fine, we had a mutual understanding to leave each other alone. Except for this year, Mr. Coyote decided to break that understanding and started to linger a little too much. While he never caused any tangible problems, he began hovering closer to the little house and eyeing our barn cat Kissa.
So we decided to look into a guard animal before we added any other small friends to our little farm. Personally, we aren’t in a place that warrants a large guard dog (LGD). Apart from hawks, our main predator is the lone coyote, so we couldn’t rationalize purchasing a puppy and putting it through training right now-we just aren’t in a place for that.
Our next thought was a donkey. Which was honestly my husband’s first choice. But after researching we decided against a donkey due to the fact that the suggested grazing space per donkey (remember you need at least 2 for companionship) was 1/2 acre. Our massive pond lies smack in the middle of our property, and at the moment we can only fence off 1/2 acre for grazing and felt like even if we supplemented with hay that 2 donkeys weren’t in our cards.
So we researched further and learned that llamas are amazing guard animals- their natural disdain for unwarranted dogs and innate loyalty to their herd make them a prime candidate for our little farm. And you can graze up to 6 llamas (or 8 alpaca) on a 1/2 acre of land!
After a lot of searching, we found a small farm northeast of Dallas that raises llama and alpaca for sale. Originally we were going to get two llama and call it a day, but when we were informed that this particular farm also had alpaca, AND the female alpacas were cheaper than the female llama (plus the possibility of being pregnant due to running with intact males) we were sold.
We spent a little more than we intended-but their faces are too adorable and hopefully the presence of a large animal roaming will allow us to range the chickens (remember, we have hawk).
Lama Fun Facts:
Llamas are amazing protection animals.
Llama and alpaca take up less grazing space because they have padded toenails. These are more gentle and do not tear up the root systems as quickly.
Llama and alpaca are excellent foragers and help clear brush.
Lama only need a shelter large enough to protect from inclement weather, they mostly will sleep outdoors
Lama pee/poo in a community toilet pile.
Shop this look on LTK: Link HERE
My workboots are from Xena Workwear nad
“But what about the spit!?”
Lama spray/mist as a form of communication, typically this act will be a way for one to show dominance over another member of the herd. It’s a very common activity and warrants saliva which is similar to what you or I would sneeze.
What many people “fear” is true spit. Lamas are ruminants, which means they have 3 stomachs. This allows them to regurgitate the contents from their first stomach and “chew the cud” to further break down the nutrients. The cud then moves into their second and third stomach compartments, which will contain the acids used to digest the foliage they ingest. True spit is regurgitated from these compartments, which is why it is so disgusting. (stomach acid, broken down grass, saliva…eww.)
However, as nasty as it is for us, it’s also extremely unpleasant for the lama to perform this action, and only happens in situations of extreme distress or threat. Typically, the abuser will receive a warning spray and body language that suggest a change in action before they resort to the act of true spit.
Llama and alpaca need to be shorn once per year and have their toenails trimmed
Be aware of deworming schedules (this differs by owner and area)
Supplement with hay if there is no grass/foliage to forage.
Provide minerals (NO COPPER)
Overall, these animals are timid, kind, and extremely simple to care for. You can build a bond over time, but they are not known to be “cuddly” animals and equate to having cat-like personalities. We are extremely happy to add them to our little farm and excited to see how their personalities shine over the next few months.