What is a Working Llama?
What is a working Llama? A llama that has a job. These are some of the jobs a llama could have.
Wouldn't it be fun to know just how many years, centuries really, llamas have been used as a pack animal? Most any llama can take short packing trips. For longer trips and heavier weight packing, a llama with good conformation and a good working attitude is recommended.
If you are just going to just take a Day Trip and carry your lunch out a Day Pack or Soft Sided Pack will work just fine. But if you are planning an overnight, hunting or fishing trip, or a week long trek, get the correct types of saddles and panniers as well as other necessary equipment. (see our packing pages here at this site too)
Having a llama pull you in a cart, wagon or in a sled is a blast. It does not take a lot of time to train a llama to pull. You will need proper fitting equipment in good repair and a human training partner. Packing comes easily for llamas. Work up to heavier weights slowly, build the miles and the llama's muscles before taking long or trips will the llama will be carrying heavy weights.
Llamas do not spook and shy like horse, ponies and other livestock do. Their long necks with sensitive head makes them easy to teach to drive. Llamas are usually driven with a special halter, no bit or bridle.
Llamas are a big hit in any parade. Be sure to practice with the animal before entering a parade. There is much a person and or llama needs to learn before entering a parade.
GETTING READY FOR THE PARADE
Many of us have been to watch a parade and thought, "Boy, I would love to be in the parade with my llama". Being in a parade with your animal is fun and exciting but will require a certain amount of PATIENCE, some times an over abundance of patience.
You don't just get up the morning of the parade and go join in the line up. The first thing you must do is prepare the llama for the upcoming event. If your llama lives near the City or County this will help. I live in wwwwwaaaaayyyyyyyyy out on the prairie and our animals rarely see a plane, and the only vehicles they see is our own or an occasional visitor's. (I love it) but the llamas do not get much desensitizing to the noises. You may be laughing at this but remember, you may not have horses and/or marching band coming by your houses either. My llamas on the other hand are used to the horses, dogs, and loud music, let's just say I like the music "pumped up" loud in the truck. I love Rock and Roll. So, now you get my point...there is A LOT in a parade that a llama must see and hear before entering and being freaked out by it. No one wants to see a scared llama running at them wildly or running circles in a parade.
Not only do you need to get the llama used to the sounds and sites around it, but lots and lots of loud people, as well as the "get up" that the llama will be wearing like backpack, cart, wagon, clothes, hats...
You should take your llama to a crowded park, parking lot or the like to practice for the Parade. By taking your llama out to train for the parade away from your home, you will also know ahead of time if everything (wagons, carts, etc) will fit in your vehicle. I have heard more then once of folks, on parade day, lamenting that their gear does not fit in their vehicles that they wanted to use in the parade.
Make sure your llama is comfortable wearing, pulling, pushing or whatever you are going to have the animal do in the parade. Take whatever it is your llama is going to be doing in the parade to a crowed park and practice, not just once, several times over several days long before the parade day. Don't forget treats and water.
When you call the Parade Committee about joining in the march, tell them you have a llama, and/or you are a llama group, ask them not to place you directly behind horses or directly in front of Marching bands, remind them of a llama's big ears and their acute hearing and that llamas might spook the other people's horses.
The day of the parade now fast is approaching. Get all your things together. You will need a lead rope, halter/collar, harness, water, bowl, and treats. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes and nice or silly clothes. I'm am sure you have seen people in parades and you wondered "What were they thinking?" Here they have this beautiful animal, groomed to the teeth, spotless carts, backpacks, wagons, whatever, but the person is in their barn clothes. The person is not groomed and is wearing old torn clothing.
Not only do you worry about how the llama and vehicle looks, and this may mean a new paint job on that cart, but also yourselves. Comfortable clothes are a must, barn clothes a no no!! Dress to the theme of the parade.
Some parades require paper work to be carried, or numbers to be worn, don't forget those either when you are loading for the parade. Making a list of everything you will need to take with you for the Parade and double checking it on Parade day is a wonderful idea.
Decorating your llama, wagon, rig, etc to the theme of the Parade is half the fun, but be careful. Don't use glass Christmas Ornaments, if they would come apart, or drop off your vehicle or animals and break on the ground your llama or another animal might cut their foot or eat it.
If you decide you want bells on your llama's harness, sewing them on with thread will NOT hold them on your harness or collar. The bells will fall off as you are walking along the parade route. Use dental floss and sew around the bell many times. Recheck your bells each time you use the item they are sewed to. Weaving the bells into the webbing or leather is best. Be careful putting anything on your animals that might spook it, and just like the item being pulled, you need a practice run with your decorations too. Make sure all decorations are safe for your animal and won't fall off.
If you are walking with a llama club or 4H, you will want to make or have a Club or 4H Banner made with the club name and maybe a phone number or website address. You also may want to make up fliers or business cards with club information to hand out to folks, and there will be some people attending the parade that are interested in joining your group. This is a nice way to literally pick up active members, ey? The more organized and professional you look the more likely you will be invited back to participate in this and other Parades. Many times there are prizes for best Parade Entrant.
If you do decide to hand out candy or dog treats to the spectators, be very aware of what your llama is seeing at his view at your hip high surroundings. Walking up to strange dogs with your llama in custom or pulling a wagon, etc, is really NOT a good idea. Also watch children and adults walking up to your animals.
Be sure to get a newspaper the next day and look for your photo.
All of the facts in this article hold true for a person taking their animals to schools, churches, etc for demos or visits too, or really, any time you are out in public with your animals, you represent all llama owners when you step out into the public eye.
Llamas have a calming effect on livestock. Llamas are less expensive to keep them dogs and guarding usually comes naturally to them... BUT!! Not every llama has the ability to become a livestock guarding animal.
If you spin, or would like to, owning a llama for the fiber can be very rewarding. Remember to care for the fiber on the llama as well as after you harvest it.
Your animals should be purchased with the type of fiber you would like to have from it. You can not get plush fiber from an animal that has thin and sparing wool. While you can spin the fibers from any llama, you will want the best wool on the animal as you can afford.
The animals you will want to purchase need to be the type you can catch esily and shear without too much fuss. An animal that has not been handled may be too much for the average wool seeker to manage and they may never be able to harvest the fiber they desired.
In South America Llama is a main dish and has been for centuries. People in the USA are trying and liking the taste of llama meat. I have not had it yet but have heard that it taste like chicken... just kidding. I have heard it taste like Elk without the wild taste... so a mild elk taste. I have seen it for sale in Northern WI.
If you plan to breed llamas buy the very best foundation stock you can afford. Get registered animals and learn pedigrees and the who is who of llamas (the animals, not the people that own them
What are you breeding for? Conformational Showing? Packing? Harness Animals? Guardian Livestock Animals? Whatever catagory you want the animals for, that is the type of llamas to buy.
A llama groomed for the show ring is an awesome sight!! But believe me when I tell you that the owner or handler has spent many hours and patience to get the animal ready for the show ring. If you own a show llama it is a daily reality. You groom and or work with your animal so that it will not only be easy to handle, look good in the ring, but also so that on show day or the week before you are not overwhelmed with the amount of grooming it might take to get this lovely animal ready to "show".
If you have a "competitive bone", showing llamas ca be a fun and exciting time.
Llamas are the only livestock that can be shown in the ring by a juvenile. Llamas have a docile nature and are usually easy for children to handle. There are more and more llamas at 4H fair each year, shown in conformation, showmanship, obstacle course as well as costume classes.
Many people are keeping llamas as companions. Some just keep them to look at in the field and others walk them like a dog, do light packing and or have them pull them in a cart for fun.
Llamas can and or used as therapy pets. If handled often they are gentle enough for old folks homes and safe enough for the children's ward. Llamas will "eliminate" before going indoors. You can do this by taking a bit of their droppings with you. After you have unloaded your llama from the vehicle walk them to a place they can eliminate and let them sniff the droppings you have brought with you. PLEASE only take well behaved, well groomed llamas on visits.
Basically the same as a companion animal. Llamas are just wonderful, docile animals.
Best Animal for Working
Conformation of a working animals is going to play a large part in how well the animal can preform. Good legs, upright pasterns, nice feet and those trimmed correctly, even back, ect. will help support your load, keep the stamina up in the animal and help prevent injuries. more to come
Depending on the job you want the llama to do. A packing llama would need to be built like a packer (think Green Bay LOL) A shorter, stouter, heavier boned animal will be easier to load and better built for the job.
more to come
Attitude, Attitude, Attitude!
The animal's conformation will be a factor in how well it can do it's job. A poorly built llama will not physically be able to carry a pack for long hours over several days. The animal must have "heart", that is a good attitude. It will not matter if you found the best built llama available to man, if it has a nasty or lazy attitude it won't be worth .10 as a working animal. Check back for more information.
A llama with a less then perfect conformation can carry a light load on day trips, and pull a cart for short distances with no problems. A llama with "heart", meaning a great working attitude might prove to be a better working animal then any you will ever find.
If you are going to work with your llama it must be a friendly and handleable animal. Llamas are not cuddly animals, that is for sure, but an animal the will tolerate you grooming it, harnessing it, loading it to pack, then the animal needs to spend time with people other then just the time you want to work it.
more to come
Where and How Should You Start
more to come
Where to Buy Proper Llama Equipment
A llama is a llama, not a horse, not a goat and a llama needs proper fitting, proper for the job equipment. You will need proper grooming equipment to start as well as the equipment you will be using for the job you are asking your llama to do.
more to come
Working Ages of Llamas
more to come
Male or Female?
My Free Llama
I hear/am asked about this a lot. Someone gave a person an adult llama and the person receiving it has big plans but no experience with llamas. Can it work? YOU BET!!
However you do need to look at several facts... Is it an older unhandled animal? How old is it? Is it friendly? Is it a healthy animal? Has it been cared for? How are it's hooves, well trimmed? How is it about being handled and having it's feet handled? Do you own other llamas already? Does it get along with other animals?
Never say yes to a free animal until you have gone to see it and have asked many questions. FREE can mean it will cost you much in emotions and cash (vet bills, hospital bills, repair jobs (fencing, barn, house, clothes). Always ask why they are getting rid of it and follow that with back up questions. Remember, some llamas, that are bought as adults, will stomp the family dog to death. Ask many questions about the animal before loading it in a trailer for a journey to your home.
Believe it or not, all of our 14 llamas we given to me free. They were looking for a good home and I was looking for llamas. We had to work with some more then others. One did not work out for us. Several, about half learned to pack and four learned to pull a cart really well and reliably.
But many times, I would venture most times, the free animal has not been worked with. It was probably bought with full intentions for it to preform some sort of job, when it did not do that job without training the person lost interest. That was not the case in the animals we /brought took home.
Using a free adult animal can be done, but it will take a lot, a whole lot of love and patience and training and patience and time and patience and for the average person. What are your training skills?