Llamas are legendary in their Native South America. They have been domesticated in the Andean Highlands for about 5000 years, essentially as a beast of burden. To communicate, they make a distinctive humming sound, which the Incas believe is a message to God and a sign of pure soul.
- An adult llama stands approximately 1.2 metres tall at the shoulder and weighs about130-200kgs. Despite their size they do not need much room. A quarter of an acre per llama is sufficient. This makes them ideally suited for lifestyle blocks. They are also friendly to paddocks. A normal 4 foot fence is sufficient and they can be quickly trained to stay behind a single wire electric fence. As they are sturdy and robust and able to tolerate most weather conditions, they don't need special protection. A three-sided shelter or basic barn structure is sufficient depending on the location.
Llamas have a reputation for spitting, which is highly exaggerated (they usually only spit if they are threatened or they need to establish a pecking order for feeding). They very rarely spit at humans.
Llamas are very intelligent and very easy to train. They can learn to accept the halter and will lead after only a few tries. You can also train them to pack in a couple of lessons. They also learn very basic commands such as 'stand' or 'walk on' very quickly.
Because llamas have a relatively low protein requirement, they can be fed a mixture of pasture and hay, supplemented with pellets made specifically for llamas. One llama eats approximately four standard square bales of hay per month.
Llamas make a dung pile, usually in one spot. Being low in nitrogen it makes good manure as it can go stright on the garden.