Enrich Your Life...
Southern States Llama Association
Breeding for SUCCESS With a focus on conformation, style and temperament
Discover Llamas Southern States Llama Association Greetings Fellow Camelid Enthusiasts, The Southern States Llama Association (SSLA) would like to welcome you to the lama community. Whether your intrigued by a llama or enthralled by an alpaca, there are many things to consider before adding these unique creatures to your family. This educational and informational magazine provides a variety of topics to offer a glimpse of the care and uses of these versatile animals. As you review Discover Llamas, you will understand why we have been so captivated by these statuesque camelid companions. From trekking to carting, from showing to public relation events, and spinning or felting, llamas and alpacas offer a spectrum of possibilities to enrich your life. Want to experience them firsthand? We encourage you to join us at an event or visit your local farm. For more information or to join SSLA scan the QR Code below. Happy Humming, Andie Frederick SSLA President
Southern States Llama Association Promotional Magazine Volume 15 Geo Graphics, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia (404) 768-5805 www..geographicsinc.com Copyright 2021 Discover Llamas Magazine Committee/Production Staff Andie Frederick, SSLA President Kim Kyst, Committee Chair Caroline Barnwell, Vicki Sundberg Stephanie Williams & Tom Wilson, Editor
Discover Llamas is a promotional magazine produced and distributed by the Southern States Llama Association (SSLA). It may also be viewed by going to the SSLA web site at ssla.org on your computer or by using the QR code below on the left. Then follow the link to Discover Llamas. About the cover: Mary Anna Pirozzoli, of Mosheim TN, treated herself to a day of llama trekking and yoga for her 80th birthday. The setting is at Horse Creek in Greeneville TN, on a beautiful autumn day in October 2020. Her llama companion is 11 year old King Aragorn. This cheerful moment was captured by Sandy Sgrillo, Owner of The Wandering Llamas in Greeneville TN, thewanderingllamas.com.
NOTICE: The opinions expressed in any letters, articles,
or advertisements in this publication are solely those of the respective author or advertiser and do not necessarilly represent the opinion of the Publisher or production staff. The information contained in this magazine is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional advice. Our readers are encouraged to consult with their own veterinarian, accountant, or attorney for any questions concerning their animals or business operations. The Southern States Llama Association or the Editor are not responsible for any losses resulting from the reader’s failure to heed this caution. Discover Llamas • 1
SSLA MISSION STATEMENT Our mission as members of the SSLA is to be a strong organization of llama and alpaca owners who have joined together for the purpose of education, fun and fellowship while promoting the health and welfare of lamas and the lama industry.
SSLA MEMBER BENEFITS • SSLA PUBLICATIONS: Llama Journal and Discover Llamas. • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY providing member information, farm and herdsire advertising, information HOT LINE, state by state listing of veterinarians who treat llamas and alpacas. • LIBRARY filled with educational llama DVDs and books. • LOCAL LEGISLATION expertise and resources for initiating positive changes that impact llama owners. • SUPPORT OF CRITICAL RESEARCH PROJECTS that impact the quality of life for our animals or expand current marketing opportunities. • ANNUAL CONFERENCES offering ample opportunities for learning, networking and fun. • SPONSORSHIP of educational clinics, workshops and health days. • LOCAL AND REGIONAL SHOWS sponsored by SSLA, which provide exceptional forums for:
Promoting individual farms and animals. Educating the public.
Stimulating new interest in llamas and potential new buyers.
Providing an opportunity to compete and compare.
Demonstrating the many things we can do with llamas.
• TROPHIES for “Best of Show” Halter & Performance at SSLA supported shows. • SWEEPSTAKES annual awards in 19 categories presented at the SSLA Conference. • SSLA AMBASSADOR PROGRAM earn medallions for your llama public relation activities. • LLAMA TREKS PROGRAM earn patches for just trekking with your llamas. • COMMITTEES working to expand resource availability in the areas of 4-H and youth, cart driving, fiber, packing and public awareness. • WEB SITE at www.ssla.org. • YOUTH SCHOLARSHIP for post high school education. 2 • Discover Llamas
TABLE OF CONTENTS SSLA President’s Message ..........................................................................1 SSLA Mission Statement and SSLA Member Benefits...................................2 Standards Of Care For Llamas And Alpacas compliled by Vicki Sundberg..............................4 Planet Of The Llamas by Marty McGee Bennett....................................6 Agritourism and Llamas by Jerry Ayers........................................................8 A 4-H Club Youth Perspective by Helaina Wright, Hannah Young, Alaska Wooten, and Lorelie Whitlow..............9 Performance? With Llamas? by Tracy Weaver..................................................10 Heat Stress in Llamas and Alpacas by David E. Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS and Karen Oertley-Pihera, DVM, MS...........12 What Is The Pack Llama Trail Association? by Tom Seifert.....................................................14 Hypothermia by Lisa Wolf.........................................................18 Trimming Toenails of Llamas & Alpacas by Tom Rothering..........................................20 I Wish I Thought OF That... by Claire-Marie M. Warner...............................24 Camelid Handling Secrets by Marty McGee Bennett..................................28 How Did Camelids Happen? by LaRue Johnson, DVM, PhD.....................32 Llama Carting, How To Get Started by Greg Hall..................................................34 Poisonous Plants – Do You Know What’s In Your Pastures? by Shay Stratford.................................................38 Llama Behavior – the Normal, the Undesirable, and the Dangerous by Susan Gawarecki............................................42 Medical Kit Suggestions For Llama Day Hikes compiled by the PLTA...................................44 The Difference Between Pack Trials and Show Pack Class by Mary Rose Collins....................................46 Editor’s Note .......................................................................51 Lama Related Website Reference List................................................52
INDEX OF ADVERTISERS AlaLlamaFarm............................................................50 Burns Llama Traillblazers LLC.................................22 Casadellama.................................................................49 Chelian Farm Friends & Family................................45 Cohutta Animal Clinic.................................................5 Custom Milling...........................................................48 Don Holliston Shearing.............................................50 Florida Alpaca & Llama Association, Inc. .............50 Four Ladies and Me Farm.........................................16 Hard Rock Llama Co. ...................Inside Front Cover Infinity Acres Ranch & 4-H Club.............................48 King’s Ransom Stables.................................Centerfold Lazy Llama Campground..............Inside Back Cover Llovelady Llamas........................................................50 Log Cabin Llamas.......................................Back Cover Moose Hill Llamas......................................................49 Only Way Realty.........................................................49 Pack Llama Trail Association....................................22 Purdy Llama Things...................................................49 Quality Llama Products, Inc. ...................................25 Rocky Mountain Llama & Alpaca Association....................................45 Serenity Hills Llama Ranch.......................................17 Simplicity Llama Farms.............................................49 Southeast Llama Rescue...............................................5 Sundmist Pastures......................................................16 The Wandering Llamas..............................................22 Tracy Munroe Shearing.............................................50 Tracy Weaver, ALSA Judge........................................50 Walnut Ridge Llama Farm............Inside Back Cover Willie’s Spirit Farm.....................................................49
Discover Llamas • 3
STANDARDS OF CARE FOR LLAMAS AND ALPACAS compliled by Vicki Sundberg Sundmist Pastures • Boliva NC
As llama or alpaca owners, we have a responsibility to our animals to assure they have a proper environment and care to sustain proper health. This list is a compilation of several sources.ii 1. WATER: Animals should have continuous access to potable drinking water. i The location should be protected from direct sun in hot weather or from freezing in cold weather. They drink more when working or lactating, especially in summer. Electrolytes are also recommended. These should be in addition to water. 2. NUTRITION: Animals should have nourishment adequate to sustain life and health.i Llamas are highly adaptable feeders being both grazers (grasses and forbs, i.e. herbaceous flowering plants) and browsers (shrubs and trees).iii Their highly efficient digestive system requires relative low protein. Llamas can frequently choke on concentrated pellets. Not every one of them will choke, but if you feed straight pellets to your llamas, ultimately you are likely to have a case of choke – particularly if the llama has teeth issues and can not properly chew, eats like a pig gulping its food, or is in competition for food with other animals. Choke avoidance techniques include spreading out the pellets in a wide pan, mixing with a course feed, adding water, and/or placing large-enough river stones in their feed bucket to slow down eating. All of these measures can help. They need a source of minerals/salt. Several products are available that address their specialized need of minerals which include sufficient selenium and not too much copper. Free choice loose minerals are preferable over block salt. 3. SHELTER: Animals should have natural or man-made shelter that enables them to find relief from extreme weather conditions.i Extreme weather includes exposure to freezing temperatures, standing or laying for long periods on wet ground, or exposure to hot temperatures. The sheltered area must allow for the ability to stand, lie down, rest and reasonably move about i – at least 30 square feet per llama/alpaca. Alpacas and Llamas, accustomed to the dry thin air of the South American Altiplano, do not handle heat and humidity well. They need to be sheared in the spring and cooled by hosing their bellies and under their tails when the heat is oppressive. They must have shelter from the direct sunlight and 4 • Discover Llamas
some kind of air movement. In hot weather many owners run fans in their shelters/lounging areas. Rule of thumb: If the combined temperature and humidity equals a number of less than 110, it is not likely there will be a problem. If the temperature and humidity equals 150, it is time to show caution - no extra activity. If these combined numbers equal over 180, conditions are dangerous and all animals should be closely monitored. 4. MOBILITY: Animals should have a safe living area through which they can move freely and exercise independently. i Rule of thumb: at least 1/2 acre with an additional 1/4 acre per camelid. Barbed wire is a poor choice for fencing since they rub against fences and poke their heads though the wires and the barbs can easily injure their eyes or rip into their skin. 5. NEGLECT: Animals should have a physical appearance free from signs of serious neglect. Signs of serious neglect may include such things as crippled ambulation due to severely curled toenails, ingrown halters, or living conditions not meeting these minimums. i Llamas and alpacas left haltered are in peril. Many owners don’t train their animals to haltering or provide a catch pen or stall for doing so, they leave the halters on all the time. This results in abscesses, ulcers, unsightly calluses and, if the halter gets caught on something, a broken neck. As the animal grows, the proper halter size will change. Best advice: train them. 6. SAFETY: Animals should be reasonably safeguarded from injury or death within their defined living environment and/or when traveling. i This includes being free from barb wire, construction debris, and holes in the ground or surface where their legs could be broken. They are curious, exploring everything. With few exceptions, securely separate dogs from livestock/other animals. Don’t leave them tied to trees or posts without supervision. Use a bungee or other elastic extension, firmly secured when training them to tether or if you must tie an untended animal. Identify and remove any poisonous vegetation growing inside and immediately outside your fenced area. 7. CRUELTY: Animals should be reasonably safeguarded from cruel treatment and actions that endanger life or health or cause avoidable suffering. i
8. SOCIALIZATION: Llamas and alpacas are herd animals and should not live alone without a companion animal. A cria (a baby llama or alpaca under six months) should not be raised apart from other llamas or alpacas. Don’t buy babies younger than 4 or 5 months. Keep physical human contact to a minimum. An adult llama bonded to a human from near birth without proper herd socialization can be a danger when the animal treats the human as another llama. 9. GENERAL MAINTENANCE AND VETERINARIAN SUPPORT: An important part of your animal’s health life is your veterinarian. Establish a relationship with him or her before you have a problem.iv Contact a local large animal vet and if they don’t treat camelids, perhaps they can give you a reference. Alternately, they may be willing to learn and work with you. Regular maintenance incudes toenail trimming, fecal analysis for parasites, weight tracking, shearing in the spring (or more), Meningeal worm awareness, observation of excrement changes, or other physical changes. Trim male’s fighting (canine) teeth. Watch carefully for heat stress in hot weather particularly if breeding males are together. Males close to 1 year should NOT reside with females and young females should not reside with males young or old. 10. TRANSPORTABILITY: Have a safe and appropriate truck, trailer or van available. This can be a borrowed or rented vehicle. Be sure to check livestock and horse trailers’ floors. Ventilation is absolutely essential. Apply common sense and caution. i The Bolded Blue Font Minimal Standards of Care are man-
datory to llama and alpaca survival and humane treatment. These are the most basic requirements that all llamas and alpacas must have for physical well-being, and, as such, define minimum requirements for animal control officers and government officials investigating questionable llama and alpaca care situation. Their document may be reproduced without permission, in its entirety, only as long as the copyright citation is included. ©2005, Camelid Community Standards of Care Working Group M i
COHUTTA ANIMAL CLINIC
iii Llama Facts for New Owners by International Llama Associa tion Educational Brochure #3
83 Dunbarton Farm Road Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513
ii 18 Things New Owners Need to Know by Jo Ann McGrath, Llama Life II, Fall 1996, Issue #39
iv Llama Basics for Dummies by Dolores Gardner
About Vicki Sundberg: Vicki got her first llama 18 years ago after having yerned for them for many years. Her main goal is having fun with them. Vicki enjoys all aspects of llama activities including participating in pack trials, Llama Beach Rendezvous, all types of showing and being in parades with her llamas. But her main passion is llama cart driving.
KAREN OERTLEY-PIHERA, DVM, MS JANICE W. HAYES, BS, RVT
Discover Llamas • 5
PLANET OF THE LLAMAS WHAT EVERY NEW OWNER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LLAMA BEHAVIOR
BY MARTY MCGEE BENNETT Perhaps the most perplexing thing about getting to know llamas is learning to interpret their body language. A brand new llama owner feels as if he has been transported to an alien planet. He wakes up the morning after the animals arrive, walks out to the barn and finds himself in the movie “Planet of the Llamas.” I don’t care how much reading you do how many farms you visit and how long you dream about having a llama there is something really amazing about seeing them standing in your barn! Llamas don’t act at all like other animals we are used to seeing in the barn. They look us right in the eye, look strangely superior and seem to be totally in charge of their surroundings. And then there is the spitting thing… They do spit you know. No matter how much we long time llama owners discount it, the fact is they can and do spit. Usually llamas have a perfectly good reason for the behavior mind you, but for the uninitiated it is something that takes getting used to. I had lived with my llamas all of a day or two when I arrived home to find my lovelies holding their mouths open drooling and shaking their heads. I was positive that my brand new llamas had been poisoned and promptly called the vet. As it turned out, as anyone who knows llamas knows, my new llamas had just had a little “spit” spat. I have been a keen observer of llamas now for almost 40 years and have learned to look past the big cues (such as ears up or back or a well-placed lugee) to more subtle hints. Making my living as I do working with llamas, troubled and otherwise, learning llama-speak has been a matter of job security. It is better by far to predict undesirable behavior and avoid it rather than to deal with the consequences of misconduct. Each time a llama engages in a particular behavior and nets somethings of value it adds to the odds that the behavior will become habitual. Once you learn to anticipate what a llama will do you can choose to either encourage the behavior or interrupt it. You can cultivate good habits and prevent bad ones from getting started. I find the following general list to be very helpful in evaluating an animal as I work. Keep in mind this is a general guide. It is very useful to observe and make notes about the specific behaviors of each animal that you live with. For example some llamas are more likely to keep to themselves than oth6 • Discover Llamas
ers some llamas are much more vocal than others are. Taking that into account, the following is a general list that will help to take the emotional temperature of your llamas as you work with them. When using these behavioral indicators in a training context remember that most llamas will show some degree of discomfort when you are training them. “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Certainly my approach to training is to minimize fear however, I recognize that either based on inexperience and fear of the unknown or past negative experience with humans my llama student is going to show some signs of apprehension. Llamas can be very dramatic and I find that new trainers and handlers often stop a lesson as soon as there is any sign of distress. It is better to dial down what you are asking for so that the animal can learn that he or she can recover from being upset. As the trainer you have the option of changing the subject matter, take a break, offer some food to help your llama student calm down. Ending a session when he/she becomes upset will do nothing but reinforce the behavior. It is important for you to be aware of your body language and to impart a sense of confidence as you work. Move in a normal fashion, NOT in a slow motion pace. As counter intuitive, as it may seem moving faster from step to step is better for more nervous animals. High-strung llamas appreciate a trainer who is organized and who does not leave unfilled gaps of time. These llamas in particular will worry about what comes next; don’t make them wait any longer than you have to. Carry your shoulders in a relaxed way, don’t hide your hands but keep them to yourself unless you need to make contact with your llama. Remember to BREATHE! I find it useful to make intermittent eye contact and to stand behind the eye of the llama outside arms length when possible. Information is power; by paying attention to the signals on this list you will know when your student moves from discomfort to a more relaxed attitude. This lets you know that your approach is working. When the opposite happens you can change your approach. Remember the most important handling and training maxim… If what you are doing isn’t working, do something DIFFERENT!
When a llama is calm it: • is quiet • will blink regularly • will stand in balance on all four feet- weight and stance is evenly distributed (see note 1) • will breath at a normal rate • will eat and or ruminate (alfalfa is the best thing to offer as most llamas will eat it) • is still • will hold his or her tail lightly against the body • swallows on a regular basis. • carries the neck slightly forward of the shoulders • moves his ears regularly and holds them loosely • will watch the handler with interest • will walk not run inside the confines of the training pen
When a llama is upset it: • will lean against the lead rope or the side of the chute • will try to get up and down • will seek to escape by leaping forward, pulling back or crawling through an opening • will stomp their feet and or kick • will hold his or her tail over the back, clamp it to the body or arch it up and over the back. • will stare fixedly • will spit • will refuse food • will throw the head around sometimes in a distinctive pattern called “orbiting” in which the llama looks straight up and whirls the head around in a circle • will hum and or scream • will squats and/or urinate • will hold tension in the face resulting in a wrinkle under the eye • will hold the lips stiffly- lips are more pointed and held tightly against the teeth • will have flared nostrils and rapid or irregular respiration • will perspire around ears, armpits, footpads in between front legs in between back legs • will carry the neck behind the shoulders or hang it very low • will stand in strange ways splayed out and braced or tucked under the body with the top line hunched. • will prick his ears forward or pin them back and hold them tightly and fixed. (See note 2) • will hold the breath and drool and refuse to swallow or may be breathing rapidly through the mouth. (See note 3)
Note 1 Balance: Bringing your llama into balance will help a nervous animal calm down. Look at your animal’s feet as you train and continually work at keeping your student in balance. Your student is in balance when you can take ALL pressure off the lead rope or release pressure around the neck and the animal doesn’t move away.
Note 2 Ears: I depart from the mainstream in this area particularly I don’t use the ears up= happy ears back= sad thing. Loose ears generally indicate relaxation tight ears either forward or back indicate consternation, annoyance, and aggression depending on context. Note 3 Mouth breathing: If your llama student is truly
mouth breathing and is not simply holding the mouth open as a result of spitting, it is an indication of a stress level that merits bringing a training session to a close.
Very Important Note on halter fit:
When you are working with your animals it is critical that halter fit be taken in to consideration. The halter must be properly fitted so that the behavior reactions indicate a reaction to the procedure or handling and not just to the halter. A properly fitted halter fits well up on the nose close to the eye, leaves room for the animal to eat, ruminate, and drink comfortably. It is imperative that you palpate the nose bone and make sure that the crown piece is snug enough to prevent the halter from slipping forward to the very edge or worse off the bone.
For almost 40 years Marty has traveled the world teaching twofour day hands-on trainings for camelid (llamas and alpacas) enthusiasts. She also offers online courses, a membership Guild for personalized training advice, training and handling equipment including the worlds most popular halter for camelids the Zephyr Halter. She is the author of the most comprehensive and best selling book on handling and training camelids, The Camelid Companion. You can find out more about her trainings, equipment and courses at www.camelidynamics.com
Now that you have some insight into the mind of the llama, lets take what we know and apply it to getting things done... see Camelid Handling Secrets on page 28 Discover Llamas • 7
AGRITOURISM AND LLAMAS by Jerry Ayers
Walnut Ridge Llama Farm & Lazy Llama Campground • Chuckey TN Agritourism has come a long way from its beginnings as dude ranches out west with wannabe cowboys. Today, there is an array of rural and farm experiences available for tourists and people who want to enjoy time on the farm. These educational and recreational experiences range from offering farm tours, picking your own fruits and vegetables, to farm wedding venues. A family in Northeast Tennessee has expanded their llama farm into an agri-tourism destination. Jerry and Carolyn Ayers, owners of Walnut Ridge Llamas, a small 25 acre farm in the foothills of East Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains, have taken their love for llamas to a new level of agritourism. They have raised llamas for 20 plus years, using them for breeding, show, and hiking. Jerry and Carolyn quickly realized that llamas drew people to the farm like bees to honey. Carolyn, who does all the shearing, decided that she needed to do something with all the fiber that they were producing. She taught herself to spin and weave the llama fiber. This was before Facebook and Marketplace, so they decided to build a small store on the farm to market the goods that they were producing. In 2004, Jerry wrote an agritourism grant for $15,000 to help build a beautiful 26 x 35 retail shelter between the home and the barn that they called the “Llama Store.” The store was the hub of activity until 2009 when the economy made a sharp downturn. Jerry and Carolyn decided to diversify the agritourism to more “activity based” events. In 2010, they began a fall agritourism activity called “Spooky Llama Trails & Tales”. It is a storytelling/musical hayride through the llama farm that provides a family-oriented and church-friendly “spooky” event appropriate for all ages. As the wagon enters the woods, there are spooky and funny interactive scenes including the Hocus Pocus witches and dancing zombies. A Native American Indian group camps on the farm each year to be part of the annual event. They provide an 18’ tee pee, dancing, arts & crafts, and storytelling. Jerry and Carolyn partners with a non-profit organization called the Chuckey Ruritan and donates 60% of the profit to the organization for community activities. In 2014, the Ayers family added another agritourism event called “Art at the Llama Farm.” Carolyn is an art teacher and Jerry is a retired principal, so developing a summer camp for children seemed like a “no-brainer.” The summer day camp 8 • Discover Llamas
is for ages 9-13 and provides children an engaging environment to discover their own abilities and creativity through art, farm activities, and interacting with one of the world’s most gentle creatures, llamas. The entire agritourism adventure came together in 2015 when a dilapidated mobile home park next to the farm came available to purchase. Jerry and Carolyn decided to buy the park and repurpose it into an RV campground. It took eight months to demolish all of the mobile homes and take away the debris. They built a new RV campground with 34 campsites and called it the “Lazy Llama Campground.” It opened October 2017 and has been 90-100% full year-round ever since opening. The Llama Store and Carolyn’s art studio were moved to the campground office area. Carolyn demonstrates and teaches spinning and weaving on Saturday mornings. Jerry takes campers and the general public on wagon rides to the farm to see the baby llamas every Saturday afternoon. Campers participate in the campground activities free of charge with non-campers paying a nominal fee for the wagon rides. Jerry also takes people on “Storytelling Llama Hikes” by appointment. Accommodations are also available on the farm for visitors who do not have RVs. They can rent an RV in the campground called the “Llama Chalet Camper” through aibnb. Jerry & Carolyn recently built a new upscale rental called “The Llama Lodge” that is also rented through airbnb. All of the activities end at the Llama Store where visitors can purchase handmade items, llama socks, toys, jewelry, and yarn. The Ayers family has taken full advantage of agritourism, and llamas have been the anchor and driving force of it all. For more information visit lazyllamacampground. com or walnutridgellamas.com . About the Author: Jerry Ayers has been an educator and high school principal for 32 years. He retired June 2017 to pursue a new career as a campground owner and spend more time on his llama farm. Jerry and his wife, Carolyn, have spent the last 20+ years sharing their love for llamas with the community through agritourism.
A 4-H Club Youth Perspective by Helaina Wright & Hannah Young (Co-Presidents), Alaska Wooten, and Lorelie Whitlow
Photo by Rick Steere
Infinity Acres Llama and Livestock 4-H Club is the longest running llama 4-H club in Virginia. Infinity Acres Ranch was started in 2007 founded by Rick and Laura Steere. They came to Virginia from upstate New York with llamas they had been working with since 2005. The 4-H club was started by Rancher Rick and Llama Laura in 2008 because they wanted to share their love of llamas with the community. Their passion and drive has influenced around 40 club members by educating them on camelids, competitions for both show, performance and pack trials. To further their outreach, they hosted MHC after 3, a local middle school program, and summer camps. Through these programs we have been able to keep 4-H alive through new members. Since schools were closed for COVID-19, our club has grown an appreciation for the opportunity to further our relationship and education on these animals. Becoming closer with our animals and our group has allowed us to strengthen our skills in communication, team building, and group bonding. Here are some perspectives from our 4-H club team members. One of our co-presidents, Helaina Wright, who is also our longest running 4-H member had the following to say in regards to participating in 4-H. "I enjoy working with the llamas because I get to see their progress, my progress, and attain a bond with an animal I wouldn't have thought I could have. I love seeing how much I learn and grow with my llama. As a co-president, I have grown in my ability to remain patient and calm in stressful situations. These skills have helped me gain a healthy understanding of the current pandemic." Our next co-president, Hannah Young, added that seeing others work with your llama is an amazing experience. She shares "One of my favorite things about working with llamas is seeing how people react to them. When a young child gets to walk your llama who you have trained for years, it is an amazing experience. You can see how much your llama has grown and how your training has paid off, while a kid is
jumping up and down about how they got to walk a llama. I get excited when I see all my llama can do, like putting on a pack or going through various obstacles. As a leader, I have enhanced my communication and conflict-resolution skills. Having these skills as a young leader will help me throughout life." One of our current members, Lorellie Whitlow, discussed her experience as a new member. "Unlike dogs, llamas are not an animal you automatically have trust with. You have to work hard and earn it. Working with my llama has shown me how important it is to have trust in a relationship and that you are not always just given trust, you have to show you are trustworthy. I remember when I first started working with my llama, Polo, he was so scared of me and I was nervous too. As I continued to work with him and spent time learning about his personality, we trusted each other and became a team." Alaska Wooten, the youngest 4-H member, explained how her llama is now a forever friend. "I have been working with my llama, Marco, for a few months, and I have made a new best friend. Marco and I do everything together, such as going into town or going on a hike. These activities have helped us trust each other, which has created a special bond. That bond has made Marco my forever friend." Our favorite things about working with llamas are all the skills you learn for life; such as, the importance of trust, leadership, and communication. We work hard together and earn each other's trust, and being able to work through a pandemic has made us stronger and an unstoppable team. Leadership teaches you how to lead your peers and llamas without second guessing yourself. We have learned how different communicating with llamas is compared with other domestic animals. As we have grown, we have a mutual, respect, understanding, and acceptance of each other's differences. Discover Llamas • 9
PERFORMANCE? With Llamas? by Tracy Weaver
Lotsallamas • Hudson FL Does your animal seem pretty receptive to try new ideas from you? Is your animal inquisitive and curious about what you are doing when you are around them? If your answer is yes, then with some patience and training, you and your llama can be in the performance ring in no time!
You, as the handler, will know your animals’ capabilities by spending time with your llama or alpaca. They all have strengths and weakness, and by paying attention to what the animal is doing, watching for signals and clues, you will begin to form a bond and trust between you and your animal.
It is important to mention, that not every llama or alpaca is made for all areas of the show ring. Some thrive on the performance area with much grace and agility, while others strive to be “Beauty Kings or Queens” in the Halter (conformation) area. Some, amazingly, are able to do both. Then, there are some llamas or alpacas that would rather stay at home and guard your herd or produce bountiful fleece, and that is okay as well!
Let’s do some basics of what performance is all about prior to entering the ring. Performance classes are designed to simulate conditions and obstacles that could be encountered by llamas and alpacas during public encounters, on walks, hikes or during human interactions. When designing a course, the design team tries to use ‘real world’ obstacles to not only mimic what may be encountered, but to enhance the animals’ ability to be more balanced, agile, athletic, considerate, and behaved when being approached by people or encountering situations or obstructions. There are three areas of performance classes: Obstacle, Public Relations (PR for short) and Pack The purpose of the obstacle class is to demonstrate the welltrained animal’s obedience and willingness to complete the activities requested by you, the handler. There can be 8-10 obstacles in a class, depending on the level of experience of the handler. The second class that you can participate in is the public relations (PR) class. Its’ purpose is to simulate obstacles for the animal that participates in community activities, goes to schools, hospitals, service clubs, parades, charity functions, children’s homes, or other media appearances for promotion. The third performance class is the pack class. Its’ purpose is designed to replicate the conditions and obstacles actually encountered when packing llamas or alpacas on the trail. During pack, the animal is carrying a pack system or training pack with two cinches filled with material or specific weight for advanced trekkers! This may seem overwhelming but, with patience and practice, your llama or alpaca can be trained to pack.
Mahoney Greeley bonding with a young haltered alpaca on a lead. 10 • Discover Llamas
There are specific rules and types of obstacles that will be in each class. The complete list of specifications for each course and obstacle descriptions can be found in the ALSA (Alpaca Llama Show Association) manual. The basic obstacles that
may help when you begin training and are likely to be seen on most courses, include walking over a ramp, jumps, backing and weaving around objects. During a show, the judge will score you and your llama or alpacas attempt at each obstacle on the course. You and your animal may earn up to 10 points for each obstacle which you are attempting to complete smoothly and efficiently. Deductions of points are taken off the score for mistakes made during the attempt. The errors a judge would be looking for can also be found listed in the ALSA manual.
training. Some ways to increase the difficulty are by making the jumps higher, weaves tighter, the backing tighter, longer or backing around a corner. A good way for a new owner to build your understanding of the performance classes is to attend a show and observe experienced handlers in the ring. Another owner says, “It really is rather embarrassing to go into a show, mostly unprepared and encounter an obstacle like the ‘umbrella opening above the llamas’ head, which spooks the heck out of him and the animal jerks and runs away!” Frightening, yes, to both llama and owner. We all learn from mistakes. Own the mistake and build on it, so the next time a point or two is added to your score, instead of deleted from it.
Rome Greeley tying animal to a trailer and learning a quick release knot with Sarah Strautmann.
Ireland Greeley walking with a llama on a ramp.
I asked a course design team, experienced llama trainers, and new owners their thoughts concerning designing a course, either at home for practice or for a show. The design team replied, “we look for obstacles to replicate ‘real world situations’, with a varying degree of difficulty and level of training in mind. PR obstacles simulate real world skills, for example being in a public area and walking down the midway at a fair”. Other possibilities are opening the mailbox & taking out your mail, or carrying balloons to your friend in the nursing home, or even weaving around some wheel chairs in the nursing home or hospital. “Sometimes designing a course has to be dependent on the availability of an obstacle. Then, where to place it on the course for ease of flow and spacing for the animal and handler. But just as well, remembering the degree of difficulty that must meet the course standards.” If building your obstacle course at home for practice then continuing on the same course over and over, your animal will become complacent. Always continue to change the course order of obstacles, spacing, and difficulty to keep your animals’ interest and
Preparation and patience for the handler is the key. Watch some shows, ask questions of other participants, visit several llama or alpaca farms, talk to owners and handlers, read and research and spend time with your animal…start small and work up to the obstacle. Repetition, trust, patience, bonding, are words that came from the owners and handlers that helped build this article. Thank you to: Maggie Jordan, Logan Pinkston, Louis Pinkston, Sarah Ross, Vicki Sundberg, and Kristi Vandergrift for your input for this article. We wish everyone success in your training and bonding endeavors with your camelids. Reference: 2019 ALSA Manual: www.alsashow.net, Part M, Approved Performance Classes All photos by the author with permission of Erin Greeley.
About the author: Tracy is a certified ALSA Halter, Performance and Fleece Judge for Llamas and Alpacas. She is a retired Agriculture Instructor of 33 years, has had llamas and been an SSLA member for 25 years. She also volunteers for the Florida State Fair Llama Show and is currently the Superintendent of the Youth Llama and Alpaca Show and also on the Board of FALA. Discover Llamas • 11
Heat Stress Llamas and Al
Heat stress is a common occurrence for llamas and alpacas during the summer season. These animals evolved in the Andes Mountains of South America, where high heat and humidity are not as common as in many areas of the United States. Llamas and alpacas are not adapted to handle these conditions, so it is critical to manage them in a way to protect them from heat stress. Heat stress can lead to poor growth, illness, sterility in males, and even death of the animal.
The key to combating heat stress is prevention. There are many practices to prevent llamas and alpacas from suffering the effects of heat stress. It is important to know when llamas and alpacas are most in danger for heat stress. Commonly used is the heat index, which is simply a formula to estimate the risk of heat stress. The Heat Index can be estimated by adding the temperature (F) and percent humidity (%). Typically, a heat index of less than 120 is safe, 120 to one 180 creates possible problems, and greater than 180 is the range where animals are in the most danger. During the warmer months of the year there are many ways to keep your animals cool. Shade is an easy way to keep them from getting too hot. Under trees is a great place for them to relax and stay cool during the heat of the day. If there are no trees available, artificial shade can be provided by putting up temporary devices such as shade cloth. When using artificial shade such as tents, barns, and shelters, you should try to recreate the “tree” effect. Trees are tall and broad, allowing nearly unlimited movement of air. A tall roofed broad barn with excellent air flow through also creates a cool, comfortable environment. Animals that are kept indoors are out of the sun, but it is important to keep good ventilation and air movement in the barn. Fans are a great way to keep the air moving and keep the animals cool. Two issues should be considered when using fans: 1) barn ventilation, 2) animal ventilation. Tunnel ventilation barns are the most desirable because the “tunnel effect” maximizes cooling of the air. Fans placed in series (e.g. all facing the same direction) can create this effect and cool the barn. Keeping several doors or windows open in the barn can also help create natural air movement and cooling throughout the barn. If available, having an 12 • Discover Llamas
air-conditioned room or area of the barn can help keep animals cool, or be used as a place to move animals that begin to show signs of heat stress . Fans should also be placed so that they blow on lower parts of the animals’ bodies-the “thermal window”, where the fiber and skin are thinner.
Shearing is one of the most important ways to help llamas and alpacas keep themselves cool. The fibers work to trap the heat close to the animal’s body, and shearing helps the animal to lose heat through evaporation more effectively. If possible, shearing from head to toe (leaving some fiber on the body to prevent sunburn if possible) is most effective, but barrel cuts (e.g. abdomen and thorax only) are better than nothing. Shear in the spring when the weather starts warming to over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and never hesitate to re-shear again during the summer. Their fiber grows fast and there are summer nights in the south when night time cooling does not occur. Giving llamas and alpacas plenty of water freshened frequently and placed in the shade, also helps prevent heat stress. There should be multiple sources of cool, clean water so all the animals have a place to drink without competing for access. Electrolytes can also be placed in some water sources to replace those lost during sweating. Electrolytes should not be placed in all the water sources, as some animals may not like the taste and prefer to drink unflavored water. Proper management and husbandry can help prevent heat stress as well. If the animals need to be worked or handled for any reason, it should be done early in the morning in the coolest part of the day. On hot summer days, avoid packing or hiking with llamas, transporting to shows, sales, or parades, moving from cooler states to warmer states. Also, breeding to have crias born in the spring is important. Late gestation and giving birth cause stress for the female, and during the warmer months can cause considerable heat stress. Crias born in the warmer months are often born weak and can easily become dehydrated soon after birth. Weaning should also take place during the cooler months, as it is a stressful time for both the cria and its mother. The body condition of the animal also plays an important role in heat stress. Obese animals are more prone to the effects of the
s in lpacas
by David E. Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS UTCVM • Knoxville TN
& Karen Oertley-Pihera, DVM, MS Cohutta Animal Clinic • Blue Ridge GA
heat, so proper management of weight is a good way to help these animals cool themselves. Emaciated animals also have increased susceptibility to extremes of environment. Proper nutrition of the animals is also important. In particular, providing adequate selenium, vitamin E, copper, zinc, and B vitamins such as thiamine can increase tolerance of environmental extremes. Having water available for llamas and alpacas to wade or lay in can also help keep them cool. Streams and ponds in the pasture are a natural place for them to wade or even swim in. If these are not available, setting up baby pools can also provide an area for wading. Llamas and alpacas that lay in the water can have their fiber damaged in the areas that are under water so this alternative may not be useful when animals are to be shown or exhibited in other ways. Sand pits or concrete floors can also provide a place for the animals to lay and cool themselves. Wetting down sand pits or concrete floors throughout the day will provide a cool place for them to lie. Sand can also be better bedding than straw in hotter months, as straw can trap heat under the animal and prevent ventilation. Monitoring the animals is important during the summer months, and signs of heat stress can be observed early. Signs to watch for are nasal flaring, open-mouthed breathing, increased breathing rate and effort, drooling, depression or dullness, not eating feed, scrotal swelling in intact males, weakness, trembling, a rectal temperature greater than 104 degrees F, a heart rate over 90 beats per minute, or a respiratory rate over 40 breaths per minute. Taking temperatures often is a good way to learn what the normal temperatures of the animals are in the morning and afternoon, and helps the abnormal to be more easily recognized. It is important to monitor the animals and recognize the signs early, so that the problems can be dealt with before they progress to more serious signs like ataxia (stumbling) or inability to rise or walk. Treatment of llamas and alpacas with heat stress should first be to cool the animal down. Calling a veterinarian should be the first action at the onset of signs, but steps can be taken to help the animal while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive. Move the animal to the shade. Hosing down the animal is
one way to help cool it, but it must be hosed down all the way to the skin because moisture in the fiber and not on the skin will only act to trap more heat and make the condition worse. Hose the underside, under the tail, and the legs. If possible, moving the animal to an air-conditioned room will help cool it down as well. Placing the animal in the shade or in water such as a stream, pond, or wading pool will also help cool the animal down. If it is unable to walk, consider rolling it onto a tarp and enlisting help to carry it to a shaded area. Dehydrated animals should drink plenty of water, but if their condition does not allow them to do so, they can be re-hydrated by IV fluids. Shearing of un-sheared animals suffering heat stress can also be helpful if it can be done in a way which does not further stress the animal and further complicate the problems. During the warmest months of the year, heat stress becomes common in llamas and alpacas throughout the country. However, with proper management and care, the effects and losses due to heat stress can be greatly reduced. Taking preventative measures toward keeping animals safe from the heat is the best way to deal with the heat and humidity during the summer. About the authors: Dr. Anderson, Dioplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine. He has had multiple publications including being a co-author of Llama and Alpaca Care: Medicine, Surgery, Reproduction, Nutririon, and Herd Health. Dr. Oertley-Pihera is a veterinarian in private practice and has owned and treated llamas for 29 years. She is a member of Lama Medical Research Group and has authored several articles on camelid health concerns. She was one of the first certifiers for the Pack Llama Trail Association (PLTA) in the southeast. She owns and practices at Cohutta Animal Clinic in Blue Ridge GA. Discover Llamas • 13
What Is The Pack Llama Trail Association? by Tom Seifert SkyRidge Llamas • Boise ID Across the United States there are a number of different llama organizations dedicated to showing llamas, breeding llamas for packing, breeding llamas for fiber, but there are none that I know of that are dedicated to setting a skills’ standard for working llamas. The PLTA (Pack Llama Trail Association) has developed a wonderful evaluative tool for prospective owners of llamas who want to know if the llama being purchased is pack worthy. During the 1990’s, llama owners in the Idaho area organized and formed WILA. (Western Idaho Llama Association). Early members with the names of Russell, Sheehan, Hammons, Rais, Northey, Landis and others wanted to bring llama owners together to test their llamas in the back-country. Not as competition with each other, although, I suppose bragging rights were always involved, but testing your llama on hikes that involved carrying a specific weight, walking a specific distance, elevation gain included, and numerous obstacles found in the back-country, and all of it according to a llamas age and weight. In time, the WILA organization evolved into the PLTA, which now has members from Oregon, Washington, Idaho to Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and several other states, with our most far-reaching member in Australia.
When my wife and I started with llamas nearly 30 years ago, with $50., and a short song and dance, you could buy llamas. Several of these had never been haltered or saddled which my broken nose can attest to. Once on the trail, one had better have put some time and practice into your llamas or you could have one back-country rodeo. Not that all of my boys are perfect and don’t get out of line once in a while, but putting them through the different Trial levels, we have eliminated many of the issues that could come from poorly trained llamas. Today, one is going to pay for good breeding, and if you have the opportunity of using llamas that have gone through PLTA training, your travels in the back-country will be much more of a reward, than a headache. When looking to purchase a good packer, inquire on its pedigree, is it registered with the ILR(International Lama Registry)? Look into the background of the seller. Are they producing what I would call something akin to a “puppy-mill?” Ask about the training level of your llama. Can you easily halter and saddle the llama? How does it walk while you are leading it? Is it breathing down your neck and pushing? Wandering side to side? Stops every-time something new pops up on the trail?
So, what actually does the PLTA do? We do operate under written by-laws with a Board and quite specific written summaries for how a Trial should be undertaken. A Trial is the actual designing of a course with obstacles. Obstacles are not generated to make a llama fail, but designed to practice what that llama and handler will see in the back-country. From Basic level, to Advanced, Master’s and Elite the llama and handler will gradually work up to longer distances, greater elevation gain, and more complicated obstacles with an emphasis on safety for all.
This is where the PLTA comes in. If you purchase a llama that has gone through the different certification standards, you are on the right track. I would never tell one, “rest assured” because one must always be working with, training and walking with your llama. We groom, saddle, and walk our llamas in the Foothills of Boise several times per week, trail conditions being permissible. The PLTA Mileage Club is a great way to get you and your llamas in shape for the summer/fall hiking or hunting season. Recording your miles is a wonderful motivator.
Using the Advanced level, let’s look at what this llama must, on three, multiple day walks accomplish. First; the llama must be a minimum of 36 months old. Second; manageability tests would be observed by the certifier. They would include, haltering, loading and unloading from trailer, placement of saddles and panniers, how does the llama react to being picketed on an approximate 20’ rope or strap. Third; the load requirement will be 15% of llamas weight. In comparison, an Elite llama would be carrying 25%. Third; there will be 10 obstacles for the llama to complete. Examples of this would be: duck-under, rock rubble, deadfall, trail traffic (dogs, horses, hikers) and crossing water.
A future owner of llamas should not get caught up in the size of your llama. One does not need a 52” llama (at the shoulder) to pack gear. If you want something big, buy a horse. A llama will be far gentler on the environment, and on your foot if he/she steps on it. They are great companions, all with their own personalities. I have had, what one might refer to as shorter llamas, pack just as well as some of my taller ones. Learn and pay attention to confirmation, length of back, hocks, temperament, and owner accessibility when purchasing.
14 • Discover Llamas
The PLTA has a great informational website at packllama.org.
Cisco and Gaius in foreground with saddle and paniers.
Tom Seifert leading Gaius as he negotiates a deadfall obstacle.
Tom Seifert leading Merlin through a duck under obstacle.
Jennifer Hood leading Poseidon through a water crossing obstacle.
Jennifer Hood leading Poseidon through a rock rubble obsticle.
Sue Seifert leading Cisco through a step/jump over obstacle.
Discover Llamas • 15
Visit the site and scroll around because there is a great deal for information contained regarding our mission statement: “The PLTA’s prime objective is to discover and recognize llamas that can fulfill the llama packer’s needs on the trail by performing in a manner consistent with the demands of actual packing conditions. The intent is not to confront the llama with unrealistic or trick problems, rather it is to test the llama’s ability and acquired level of training and conditioning. PLTA certified pack llamas are expected to possess a defined set of abilities that enable them to serve as valuable packing companions. Many non-registered, untrained llamas can become wonderful companions on the trail with some sound coaching and practice. The PLTA is there to help you. Attend a Pack Trial, observe what is taking place, the attention to safety first, the comradery and sharing of ideas and net-working that occurs. If one is a bit apprehensive testing your llamas in a Trial, another opportunity would be the Challenge Program. Usually, the Challenge Program is held in conjunction with the Trial. It is much more low-key, no stipulation to distance, elevation, pack weight. In fact, you can just lead your llama with no saddle. The group just goes for a hike and any member can call out an obstacle and ask if anyone wishes to attempt it. If you have some free hours, grab your llamas, some friends and go out and walk a Challenge. The PLTA Board and current members believe there is a real demand for the PLTA within the packing community and those soon-to-be llama owners. We are always looking to add members, enhance the programs offered, and put on Trials wherever our members are located. Please check out our packllama.org site and if there is something you are not finding or just have a few questions, don’t be afraid to contact the PLTA.
Pack Llama Trail Association, Inc. Dedicated to Preserving and Promoting the Working Llama packllama.org
About the author: Tom is a retired high school teacher and coach. He and his wife have been working with llamas for nearly 30 years. He packs with their llamas in the wilderness areas of Oregon, Wyoming and Idaho and hunts with them in the fall. His seasonal activities include: training llamas in the foothills of Boise and fishing for bass and crappy in the spring, llama trekking in the mountains in the summer, bow hunting elk in the fall, and relaxing and snow-shoeing in the winter. He was PLTA Secretary for a number of years and currently serves as it’s President. 16 • Discover Llamas
Four Ladies and Me Farm Michael and Patricia West 4179 Divine Llama Lane East Bend, NC 27018 336-972-7625 www.fourladiesandme.com Mwest5133@aol.com
by Lisa Wolf Burns Llama Trailblazers • Burns OR
October snow hurled by a blasting wind pushed me down the canyon wall. At last I had found him, huddled against the fence where it crossed the canyon, far, far away from the outbuildings and safety. Wizard stood to greet my calls, then cushed in blood spattered dust as I scrambled to reach him. Dog tracks and deep scuff marks tore the desert soil, but Wizard was more torn than the ground. Head, neck shoulders, rump, everything that I could see was slashed and bloody. “Wizard, stand up. I’ve got to see all of you.” But Wizard wouldn’t stand. He sat staring straight ahead; only a dim light flickered behind a dangling eyelid. I pulled out my cell phone and called the vet. Fortune was with us. She was nearby. Kneeling next to Wiz, I opened my coat and held it wide in an ineffective effort to block the wind, and shivered as we waited. The vet’s big truck came bumping across the field at the mouth of the canyon. It was the only place giving access to this edge of the backcountry. Anywhere else – it didn’t bear thinking about. Dr. Katy’s somber greeting as she crawled through the fence grew quickly into deeper concern. Wizard was a mess.
“Normal is about 100 degrees. He’s at 92.” My heart fell over the cliff. “You have to get him warmed up, but first I’m going to sew his eyelid back together.” I called my husband for help. “Tom, emergency. Come quick. Go to the ranch, get the truck and trailer, throw in the toboggan, the llama blankets, and tarps. And collect all the empty kitty litter jugs you can find; the four gallon ones I fill with sand for training weights. And bring all the plastic bags full of llama wool.” As Doctor Katy finished stitching and inspecting Wizard’s slashed throat to make sure it wasn’t lethal on its own, Tom came clattering across the field with the truck and trailer. Wizard didn’t move as we rolled him into the toboggan and heaved it under the fence and into the horse trailer where we packed him in blankets. “Where’re we going?” Tom handed me the keys. “To the big barn at the other ranch. We’ll need electricity and solid walls, not the half shed we have out here.”
Three strong men and my Burns Llama Trailblazers partner, Becky Cunningham, waited as I backed the “Don’t know, possibly all night.” trailer into the open end of the big barn. Wizard sat like a statue in the “Hmm.” She pulled out her thertrailer, while we built an oval of hay mometer and inserted it into Wizbales stacked two high and filled it ard’s rectum. He didn’t move. with loose hay. It fit Wizard’s body “How’s he doing?” with about a foot and a half to spare. We slid Wizard into the nest, rolled Wizard, hypothermic and in shock after a dog “His temperature will tell. There are attack during a winter storm. Starting him off the toboggan, closed the hay two things that will kill a llama or alhis long road to recovery. bale wall around him and began paca, shock or hypothermia.” packing. First I draped the two winter-weight llama blankets over him. On top of that I piled Wizard was clearly in shock. My heart tipped on a precipice. As Dr Katy studied the thermometer reading her normal tac- scrappy blankets from the house, being careful to drape them all the way to the hay bed. This gave Wizard a thermal buffer iturn expression turned stony. to avoid burns while still bathing him in heat from the hot “What is it?” I tried not to let my sudden fear show. water jugs I snuggled in a tight ring around him. Four jugs at “How long has he been here?” Doctor Katy set to work.
18 • Discover Llamas
a time, wheelbarrow load after load I hauled the hottest water I could get from the house 100 yards away. I pushed them in close to Wizard and piled the bags of llama wool on top. Over everything I packed loose hay filling the oval. Finally I covered it all I put two tarps. Only Wizard’s head and upper neck stuck out. Once I had him packed in, I started pumping warm water and a slurry of liquefied grass-hay pellets into him with a turkey baster until he would take no more. It and the pain killers brought life, but no enthusiasm, back to his eyes. That afternoon, hunkering against the gale, and throughout the frigid night, I went back and forth, refilling water jugs as soon as they began to cool. In the morning Wizard’s temperature had barely improved. Becky began making phone calls -- someone in this isolated desert town must have an electric blanket. The stores didn’t, the neighbors didn’t, friends didn’t. Finally one was found. Becky went to town to get it and came back with it and a pink pile jogging suit sized for a four-year-old. “What’r yah gunna do with that?” The county animal control agent sat on a hay bale taking notes on where to put his traps in order to catch the dogs when they came back, for surely they would.
against burns. I turned the heat on high. On the second day Wizard’s temperature was still below normal and he refused to move. It took three strong men with a board and hay bale to lever Wizard into a standing position so we could fully assess his wounds. Even with cold wind whistling through the barn, it was time to start cleaning them. Late on the third day Wizard began paying attention to the world. His temperature had finally reached a low normal. The first hurdle was crossed, but as winter fully set in Wizard continued to wear llama blankets, the electric blanket and his pink jogging suit for many days. Months later, while directing the final stages of Wizard’s recovery, Doctor Katy stood back with a grin. “You know, if it had been anyone else’s llama I would have put him down right then. Just the stress of all this doctoring would have been too much for most llamas, but I know you train your animals well. He’s a miracle.” Two years later, finally fully recovered, BLT Wahoo’s Wizard earned his PLTA Elite Pack Llama certificate.
“I’m going to cut ear holes in it and put it over his head. You lose a huge amount of heat through your head.” The agent dropped his jaw, then laughed outright. “He’ll never stand for that!” Becky took it as an affront. “Just you watch!” I began fitting the holes over Wizard’s bloodied ears and zipped the front of the jacket up his neck. Then I draped the pants below it and tied the legs in a bow so that the slashes on his chest were covered too. Wizard turned his head for pictures before going back into gazing dully at nothing. “You see,” I address the county agent, “This is no ordinary llama. This is a PLTA Master Pack Llama. He knows what’s what.” In order to get the electric blanket in place we had to unpack Wizard’s nest. Once it was cleared away, we rolled Wizard onto his side for a better look. My heart fell into the pit. No part of Wizard’s body except for his upper back had escaped unshredded. “I’ll get the rifle.” Gruff finality filled the voice of the husband of my other business partner, Anne Sheeter. “No rifles!” The idea sent my emotions into a fury, but surely if Wizard wasn’t cooperating, he’d already be dead. Shock or hypothermia the vet had said. There was only so much I could do about the pain and shock, but hypothermia could, and had to be, fixed right away. We rolled him back into place and repacked the nest. This time the electric blanked went on, sandwiched between the llama blankets to protect
After a full recovery, BLT Wahoo’s Wizard earned his PLTA Elite Pack Llama Certificate.
After his horrible ordeal, it took nine months for Wizard to recover physically and another year to recover mentally. Now you’d never know it. This attests to the strength stamina and training of the Burns Llama Trailblazer’s stock. Editor About the author: Lisa has worked with llamas for over 35 years and is the co-owner of Burns Llama Trailblazers where they breed and train Classic Ccara Llamas for work and performance. These are truly working llamas and train weekly. She is a Certifier Trainer for the Pack Llama Trail Association (PLTA) and enjoys packing with her llamas throughout the wilderness areas of the northwestern states. For more information visit their website at burnsllamatrailblazers.com. Discover Llamas • 19
Trimming Toenails of Llamas & Alpacas by Tom Rothering Silver Oaks Llamas • Plant City FL Llamas have a toenail that protects their toes. Like ours, llama nails need routine trimming. In the wild, llamas’ toenails naturally wear down, but in a pasture setting they do not normally get enough exposure to wear them down.
have their nails trimmed by simply being tied securely. I prefer all animals be placed in a chute to ensure the safety of the handler and the animal. Trimming toenails in ex-
Llamas have two toes on each foot. Each toe has a soft pad with the toenail on each side angling toward the front. Trimming the nails gives the llama an even walk-
This llama also needs a toenail trim but these are not long enough to be causing pain or walking issues.
This llama has extremely long toenails and is in despirate need of a trim. They are likely causing pain and walking difficulty.
ing surface. When the nails are too long, they will begin to curl and grown back into the llama’s soft pad causing discomfort andpossible infection. Llama owners all have many ways of trimming nails. I will describe the way that works for me. Well-trained llamas 20 • Discover Llamas
tremely hot weather, or llamas in later pregnancies, may cause undue stress on that animal. It is important that the person trimming the nail be strong enough to pick up the foot and work with one hand. That person must be confident and in control.
Using a sharp nail trimmer, I start with the front foot. I stand parallel to the llama facing the tail, with the trimmer in my working hand. Using my other hand, I pat the llama’s shoulder. I like to give the command of “foot” and slide my hand down the llama’s leg and grab the pastern firmly. You need to be standing solidly to help balance your animal. I lift the leg toward the back and bring the foot up so that
its about at a right angle to the knee. I brace my leg against the llama’s leg to help stabilize the llama because the llama will need to balance itself on three legs. Should the animal
Trimming a back foot.
Cutting the long tip perpendicular to the long axis of the nail.
struggle, keep in control and do not let go of the pastern. Llamas learn quickly to jerk their legs from your hand if you release it immediately. While holding the leg, pause for a few seconds to let the llama relax its leg and foot. Once the llama has settled, I take the tip of the trimmer and carefully clean away any debris from between the soft pad and the nail. If the nail is extremely long, I will trim the front of the nail square off first. I then trim along the pad starting from the back and moving toward the front of the foot. Repeat on each side of the pad. I find making shallow cuts of the nail with your trimmer gives better control than trying to take large cuts. When trimming, you must watch not to cut too closely to the pad and hit the quick. This is the soft, sensitive area between the toenail and pad. If this happens some cornstarch will help to stop any bleeding. During the trimming if you see small drops of clear liquid at the tip of the nail, this lets you know you are close to the quick. Do not cut any closer at this time. Trimming the back feet is basically the same. I start again
The finished product.
Discover Llamas • 21
parallel with the llama. This time back at the tail. I have my back to the llama’s rear, give the command foot, grab the lower leg firmly and lift straight back and upward. Give the animal time to stabilize and balance. You can feel the animal relax when the pastern moves freely. Start the same process, workquickly since you may not have a lot of time to complete each foot. When the trimming on each foot is complete, gently place the foot back on the ground. Do not drop the foot, as the llama can stub its foot into the ground. I have found if the nails are extremely long, I will cut the nail as short as possible without hitting the quick. I will repeat the nail trimming again at about two-week intervals until the nails are back to the desired length. Always inspect the foot for any cuts or abnormalities. If you have any concerns, always contact your veterinarian. About the author: Tom and his wife Mary have had llamas for more than twenty years. Their daughter got them interested and everything grew from there. They now have 14 with crias due in spring. They travel in the SE participating in packing, performance and fiber arts. Visitors are always welcome at their farm.
Breeding and Training Quality Llamas since 1993 Breeding and Training Quality Llamas since 1993
Burns LLC BurnsLlama Llama Trailblazers Trailblazers LLC
Personalized Training for You and Your Llama Personalized Training for You and Your Llama
Pack Trial and Performance Training
Pack Trial and Performance Training
Elite packer offspring for sale
Elite packer offspring for sale Our breeding stock are Ccara registered, PLTA certified, Our breeding stock are Ccara registered, PLTA certified, Backcountry Experienced, and Show Ring proven Backcountry Experienced, and Show Ring proven
Becky Cunningham (541) 589-0840 Anne Sheeter (541) 573-2628 Lisa Wolf (541) 413-0341 Becky Cunningham (541) 589-0840
Anne Sheeter (541) 573-2628
www.burnsllamatrailblazers.com Lisa Wolf (541) 413-0341
www.burnsllamatrailblazers.com 22 • Discover Llamas
And just sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a llama who seems to enjoy getting his pedicure while basking in the sun. As demonstrated here by Shay Stratford with her late llama buddy, Hammock’s Beausoleil (affectionately known as Beau). Photo by Tom Wilson Discover Llamas • 23
I Wish I Thought Of That...
by Claire-Marie M. Warner Serenity Hills Llama Ranch • Groveland FL
Identification Cards As we all know, sometimes it is necessary to have someone come over to care for our llamas and alpacas. The person assisting may not know all your animals by name and maybe only a few from reputation. I created the item in the photo. It was very easy and worthwhile, I took a picture of each one of our critters, wrote their names on the pictures and classified them as males or females and further subdivided the photos by pastures. I added a card marked Boys and one marked Girls. I also added a card with our name, address, and phone number. I also included the name and phone number of our veterinarian. In the event of an emergency, your llama or alpaca caregiver of course knows where you live, but may not know what the address is. Your vet’s information should be readily available as well, and arrangements should be made for billing purposes in case of an emergency. I punched a hole in each card and added them to a key ring that has a hook clip on it. I have this item hanging by the door. Cats and dogs can be added to the clip as well. The reason for keeping it by the inside door, is any caregiver can take it out to the pastures with them, they can use the hook to clip it to their belt loop and if they have to call a vet or me for assistance they will be able to use the photos to identify which animal is the one in need of attention. 24 • Discover Llamas
Llama Wash As each of us know, in the hot months llamas and alpacas for the most part loved to be cooled off by water hitting their belly and legs. Well, after doing this a few times, but never feeling like I was accomplishing much of anything else and going through the gambit of trying soaker hoses, hose stands, and most everything else under the blazing sun, I got to thinking, and the llama wash was born of necessity. I called it the llama wash as we had only llamas as that time. The concept is simple to create and our first one was merely attached to the fence. Now we actually have covered stations with concrete pavers as flooring so we do not erode the soil, pretty “cool”.
The items you will need are: • • • • • •
2 oscillating sprinklers 2 short hoses (about 15’) 1 longer hose to reach the water source 1 Y hose diverter connector 1 multi-programmable water timer 1 “U” shaped wooden frame sunk upside-down across from other sprinkler
The idea was to put an oscillating sprinkler on a fence line about mid-thigh on me, top of the leg for most of the llamas’ heights. Just opposite this create a U shaped wooden frame that you will sink into the ground upside-down. This will hold another oscillating sprinkler. Set the sprinklers to only oscillate from the ground to the center-line (which will be shooting straight across to the other sprinkler). So, in actuality, one will oscillate from left to center and the other will oscillate from right to center. I use alligator clips and straps to hold the sprinklers in place on each end of the sprinkler as we do have some leaning leaners. From one sprinkler a short hose is run under the ground in the direction of the other sprinkler and meets up with the other short hose at the Y hose diverter connector that remains in the both ON position. Another longer hose is then attached to the Y connector and this hose will be the lead water line and goes to a multi-programmable water timer then connects to the facet. We program the timer to turn on 4 times a day and run for anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on time of day (late morning vs. afternoon) and whether or not it is spring, summer, or the long humid days of late summer when the critters have been dealing with the humidity for such a prolonged time. We also provide wading pools and misters for those who prefer them. But the llama wash has by far made an impact in the running of this operation. The llamas and alpacas line up for the llama wash when it activates. Some of them even dance in the moving, driving water. Due to the close proximity of the sprinkler heads about 8’ feet apart, the water really is pressurized and does penetrate to the skin instead of just wetting the top layer. They love it!
Concrete Mixer We, like most people, add vitamins and supplements to the llama grain that we feed. Since most of the items (Master Plan, Fibrevive, Metamucil, Vitamin E and Selenium, Diatomaceous Earth, and other vitamins and minerals) are powders, it does not adhere to the pelleted llama/alpaca feed. We mix the powders into the sweet all grain (sticky with molasses). After mixing grain by hand for years in the kitchen with a spatula (oh, yeah!) directly into a Rubbermaid Tough Tote, it occurred to me there has to be a better way.
Inspiration struck when I was at the Home Depot (favorite store), and I saw a cement mixer on sale. Ah-ha! Repurpose a cement mixer to now be the largest Kitchen Aide mixer! It makes the process so much easier and faster. We can mix 100 pounds of feed at a time to be stored in the Rubbermaid Tough Totes. Here’s how we do it: put a 50 pound bag of sweet all grain into the cement mixer, next pour in all the vitamins and minerals on top of the sweet grain. Turn on the machine and after 90 seconds everything is blended. Then add a 50 pound bag of llama/alpaca food and turn on mixer for another three to five minutes. Pour into your Rubbermaid Tough Totes. Llama and alpaca dinner is ready! All photos courtesy of the author. About the author: Claire-Marie and Doug Warner purchased their first pair of intact males in 1999. They raise both llamas and alpacas and use their fiber by spinning, knitting, weaving, felting (both needle and wet) and various other crafts. Claire-Marie is an outside the box and sideway thinker. She invents ways to make the ranch more “user friendly.” They engage in agritourism at schools, libraries, parks, and appeared on TV and in newspapers.
Personalized Custom Gifts From An Industry Leader Make your animals standCustom out Personalized Personalized Gifts Custo on mugs, shirts, custom name badges, From An Industry From Leader An Industry wall plaques, Record Binders,
Make yourand animals Blankets, more.stand out Make your animals stand out on mugs, shirts,shop custom name badges, on mugs, shirts, custom name bad Call our custom today! wall plaques, Record Binders, wall plaques, Record Binders, Blankets, and more. Blankets, and more. Call our custom shop today! Call our custom shop today! Discover Llamas • 25
CAMELID HANDLING SECRETS (“Tools” of Trade)
by Marty McGee Bennett
The information in this article should really be top secret. You shouldn’t really be able to know these things until you have paid your dues. By rights you should be pitched into the dung pile a few times, wear a lot of spit and know the feeling of being dragged around the paddock on your face once or twice before you gain entry to this inner sanctum. Fortunately for you I never could keep a secret! These simple tips and techniques will make you look like a veteran animal handler as soon as you try them. You need not begin at the beginning or keep reading until the end. You don’t have to understand or agree with any particular philosophy. The following list is a compilation of tricks of the trade that will help you work magic with your animals immediately. Newcomers to the llama business will want to laminate this article and put it in the barn. If you have been at the camelid game for a while you may already know some of this secret knowledge but read carefully you may find one or two new nuggets of wisdom to add to your “toolbox.”*
HERDING • Using a special word, noise or whistle to call your llamas into the barn at mealtime. It is a great way of getting them in the barn but be aware of the dangers of creating a “calling pattern.” Periodically call the animals in at two in the afternoon or ten at night and give them food when you do. You won’t be faced with a group of llamas looking at their watches and shaking their little heads when you holler the magic word at the wrong time of day.
• When moving animals into or through small spaces and particularly when moving around frightened or shy animals, be aware that you are larger than you think. Remember… to a camelid you are as big as the physical space that you occupy and your reach (reach=your body and the length of your arms). You will make major points with your animals, especially nervous ones, if you keep yourself at a safe distance as you work around them.
• When threatened an animal’s first choice is to get away— the flight response. All mental circuits are focused on finding an escape route. Herding a group of animals is actually the same as creating an escape route for the animals that suits you. Camelids will instinctively orient themselves so that they have a forward escape route relative to any perceived threat. Before you begin herding look at the process from this perspective and block all exits except the one leading to the desired location.
• When sorting animals, it is very helpful to have two or more levels of confinement. Small catch pens that join a slightly larger area are much more useful than a single tiny catch pen in the corner of a huge pasture. It will be much easier to herd the animals into the secondary container. There will always be those animals that sneak by when you are working them into the smaller catch pen, with an intermediate container you will not have to start over in the big field.
28 • Discover Llamas
• If your pasture is too big to manage alone you can build a temporary fence into the middle of the pasture to create an area you can work with. Fiberglass fence posts and nylon tape makes a visible barrier and can be taken down easily for pasture maintenance. You may be able to manage smaller pastures with a length of rope or flat nylon tape (40 feet works well). Simply tie the rope or tape to the corner of the pen walk out with it and round up the animals.
CATCHING • Use a catch pen! Build or buy panels to create a sturdy, safe, confined area approximately 10’ x 10’ in a convenient spot accessible from your pastures. Herd your animals to this pen each time you halter or work with them. If you have any trouble with any particular technique or task while working in the pen try making it smaller by stacking bales of hay inside the pen. • Try catching difficult animals (wild or spitty animals in particular) once they are in the catch pen by tying a rope to the end of a stick (a four-foot dowel will work). Use the stick to guide the rope over the head. Once the rope is around the neck you can control the head but still allow your animal to move within the catch pen. Use the rope to steady your animal as you walk up to him with the halter.
• When herding with more than one human, both herders must remember the effect of their reach. Gate tenders should stay as far out of the way as possible. You would be amazed at the difference one giant step backwards will make. At clinics I have helped someone move an animal that was absolutely stuck simply by asking a bystander to move back a bit and open a gate slightly. Your llamas are acutely aware of human anatomy and will pass easily if the human is more than arm’s length away from the path the animals must take. It is also better if your gate tender is standing behind the gate instead of on the animal side of the gate. It feels safer for the llamas to pass through a gate if the gate is in between the human and the animals.
HALTERING • If your animal is difficult having difficulty with initial halter training try this: Buckle the crown piece of your halter on its largest hole and offer this large opening as if it were the noseband of the halter. Sometimes a few practice attempts with this much larger opening can pave the way for actually putting the noseband over the nose.
Discover Llamas • 29
• Check your halter fit! Halters that don’t fit are dangerous, create behavioral problems and don’t work well for their intended purpose. Your halter is probably lacking if the noseband cannot be adjusted. A properly fitting halter rides up high on the nose bone close to the eye and stays there regardless of what the animal does or doesn’t do. A properly fitting halter is safe and comfortable. The noseband rests firmly on bone and stays there NO MATTER WHAT. There is enough room in the noseband for the animal to chew without interference. • Before you put any halter on always open the noseband so that it is larger than you think you need. Snug up the crown piece. Tighter for animals with a smaller head. Take the slack out of the noseband only after you are happy with the adjustment of the crown piece. Larger animals need more room. Always physically examine the nose bone before you put a halter on an animal you don’t know. Some animals have shorter than average nose bones. Recheck halter fit after about ten minutes nylon stretches up to 33%.
LEADING/LOADING • If you pull steadily on your llama he will pull steadily back. You and your animal will be counterbalanced. No productive movement will result from this counterbalance. Llamas learn very quickly to widen their stance, drop their head and grow roots if you try to pull them forward. To get a llama to come forward get as far away from him as possible given the length of your lead rope, put slack in the lead line and count slowly to 30. In my experience 9 out of 10 animals will be walking before you get to 20.
• If you have a long narrow aisle way, use it for your first few leading lessons. You can keep control of your animal more easily and leading in a long narrow pen. The shape of the pen encourages your animal to walk in a straight line behind you rather than all over the place.
30 • Discover Llamas
• Use a longer lead for initial lead training. I like a lead that is about 17 feet long. Getting further away makes your animal feel safer and more likely to try walking with you. If he does bolt you have more time to react with a longer lead. • A frightened llama would rather not get in a confined space with a human and will load in a trailer or other conveyance much better if they can get into the trailer themselves without being led in. Spot the trailer by the entrance to a barn and use panels to block any exit other than the trailer door. Herd the llama into the trailer. It will be much easier to herd a group of animals into the trailer releasing the ones you don’t need rather than trying to load a single frightened llama. • When showing a llama help him stand still by watching for weight shifts in the front half of the body. Pay very close attention to the front feet and use your lead to keep the weight evenly distributed on both front legs. If the llama’s weight is more over the right leg move the head and neck to the left and release- weight over the left leg move the head and neck over the right leg and release. You must correct and release or your animal will begin to lean on the lead rope and you will end up fighting with him. Your llama will be much more likely to stand still using this technique than if you try to hold him still using force. • Do you have a llama that has trouble paying attention on the lead? Try walking him over 5-6 parallel poles on the ground spaced about 3 feet apart. This will often help a scattered animal learn to slow down and focus.
MANAGEMENT • Try giving subcutaneous injections using the group method. Cram as many llamas as you can into your catch pen- the animals will feel safer in a group making the job easier from a purely psychological point of view. But the advantages don’t stop there. With enough animals in the pen you don’t have to restrain the animals as you give the injection. The shot recipient can’t move very much because of the crowd of other animals. Stand behind the animal’s eye on the side of the animal closest to the center of the pen and use an injection site in the front half of the body- the crease of the neck works well. This is not only easier for the animals but a real time saver for the manager. • Add a butt board to your chute! Tie a frightened llama in a chute by the head and he will more than likely throw himself around, flip over, end up forward of the shoulder restraints or lie down. A llama’s long neck makes it difficult and dangerous to restrain him by the head. Add a rear barrier to your chute, tie your animal loosely and your chute becomes a very tiny catch pen instead of a restraint device. Llamas will remain calmer when contained than when restrained. ***Always double check halter fit when using a chute! • Don’t have a chute? If you have a trailer use it for the chores that you would normally do in a chute. A trailer works much better than any chute!
HUSBANDRY • If you ever have to milk a female llama this trick comes in very handy. Cut off the needle end of a 20cc syringe and insert the plunger in the wrong end- the end you just cut off. You now have a breast pump. You can put the smooth end with the rim up against the teat, draw back with the plunger and you are milking away. • Work with your babies early (three to four days old) and often (once a week) in the first three months 5 minutes per session is enough. Work in a catch pen with mother present; handle the mouth, tail and legs while the baby stands in balance unrestrained. Allow the baby to move freely in the catch pen and move with him as you work • What ever you are doing remember to breathe! For almost 40 years Marty has traveled the world teaching twofour day hands-on trainings for camelid (llamas and alpacas) enthusiasts. She also offers online courses, a membership Guild for personalized training advice, training and handling equipment including the worlds most popular halter for camelids the Zephyr Halter. She is the author of the most comprehensive and best selling book on handling and training camelids, The Camelid Companion. You can find out more about her trainings, equipment and courses at www.camelidynamics.com
• Are you nervous about giving an injection for the first time? Forget the orange—practice on a chicken! Get a whole chicken at the grocery store with the SKIN ON. Practice both sub-Q and IM injections with a variety of substancessoy sauce is just about like Tetnus C/D, honey is very similar to ivermectin. Try a variety of needle sizes. You will get a much more accurate idea of what to expect on a real animal. You can even bake and eat your chicken after you practice. • Difficulties picking up feet to trim toenails? Don’t bother picking up the feet at all! Stand your llama on a rubber mat or concrete pad and trim the long parts of the toenail while the animals stands on his feet. It may not be the perfect answer but it is possible to do a fair job of trimming toenails this way and this technique can keep you out of a fight with your llama. A helper can steady the animal as you squat down and work, if your animal kicks you may want to use a panel as a boundry reaching under the bottom rail to trim. Another alternative for quieter llamas... steady the animal by putting your hand on the shoulders or hips while reaching down with the other hand to trim. When using this technique it is best to nibble away at the nails rather than taking off big hunks. Pruning style toenail trimmers work best for this technique.
* More information and details on these and other training and handling techniques are available on Marty’s online forum, in her book “The Camelid Companion” and as part of her online courses.
Visit www.camelidynamics.com Discover Llamas • 31
How Did Camelids Happen? by LaRue Johnson, DVM, PhD
Professor Emeritus • Colorado State University
You can surely embrace one of the two currently debated options, they being Intelligent Design or Darwinian Evolution to answer that question. I had tended toward the evolution tract where by their wild ancestors Hemiauchenia were roaming and living abundantly in North America centered in contemporary Nebraska. Being myself currently living in Colorado, it is understandable that as they developed the intelligence that we have grown to appreciate in the final product, they decided there has to be a better place than Nebraska. As such, they began a gradual migration some 3 million years ago through the areas subsequently known as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and on into Mexico (there was no wall), and arrived into Central America for a meeting of the two factions that had developed. One group decided that the mosquitoes were too intense and the vegetation wasn’t nearly as palatable so they were going back to Nebraska. The other group thought the southerly migration to be very exciting so pushed onward. Those that wanted to go back to Nebraska proceeded to lose 32 • Discover Llamas
their way. They ended up following the Pacific coastal region north eventually taking a left turn across the then Bering land bridge allowing entrance to the Asian continent. This faction eventually evolved into the Dromedary and Bactrian camel we know today. Those that stayed the southerly course arrived to the Andes mountains area and proceeded to develop into the wild guanaco and vicuna that were subsequently domesticated into the llama and alpaca respectively. Having read and respected the contributions of Dr. Jane Wheeler, the literary abilities of Eric Hoffman, and the always-credible Dr. Murray Fowler, I of course was initially comfortable with that story. Then, after working as a camelid veterinarian and owning llamas and alpacas for a few years it came to me that there is a much more plausible explanation as to how they were created….. Conception by Committee! (see photo)
This Committee Conception came about by the assemblage of a diverse group of critters. Included were horses, cattle, sheep, goats, giraffes, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and ferrets. Being the largest critter, the horses elected a leader who was able to instantly recognize that working together they could pool their best features to conceive an animal that would be an improvement. Subcommittees were created to work on different body systems as well as there was even one assigned to behavior. The horse chaired the Reproduction Committee. As chair, the horse female uterine and placental anatomical structure was adopted, long gestation, ability to breed back soon after “criation,” low incidence of successful twinning and a relatively small udder. The cat and ferret, while small in size, were able to convince the rest of the committee, all of whom have an estrous cycle with spontaneous ovulation to adopt their uniqueness. Thus, camelids are breeding induced ovulators. There was heated debate over how many teats the small udder should have with the rest of the two teated committee finally conceding to the cows that because of the small size it would be better to have four. When it came to male reproduction, the horse relinquished chairmanship to the ruminant contingency. As would be expected from leadership, they got the biggest input. A fibro-elastic penis characterized by the sigmoid flexure but with the unfortunate inclusion of a urethral recess was adopted. The latter was one of the few mistakes of this committee conception. The horse did however exert its influence by imparting relatively small testicles as compared to body size but along with the pig unfortunately put them in a scrotum that was tight to the body. This has unfortunately predisposed male camelids to heat stress infertility by being unable to keep the testicular germplasm at its optimum temperature. The male pig was also out voted as regards semen volume by eliminating the vesicular glands as accessory sex glands. The pig and dog did however have some influence on duration of copulation. The “Slam, Bang and Thank you Ma’m” rapid breeding of horses, cattle, sheep and goats was considered too fast for creation of such quality offspring. Therefore thanks to the pig and dogs, we have camelids breeding for anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes. Another unique feature of camelids that apparently was imparted by committee action is the unique “saran wrap” covering of the newborn. Who of the committee was responsible for that? The Digestive Committee was dominated by conventional ruminants explaining why many dental features are similar to them. The dog, cat and ferret however lobbied for some sharp teeth resulting in camelid fighting teeth. Because of this committee’s leadership, it will come as no surprise that they also strongly proposed a four compartment stomach. The remaining committee members all being monogastrics united to make the cow, sheep and goat agree to a unique 3 compartment stomach that proved to be even more efficient in converting forage to llama and alpaca basic metabolic needs. While the horse had little clout on the committee it was able
to initiate a fractured discussion on the subject of liver structure resulting in a unique “cracked ceramic” appearance and in the process they forgot to include a gall bladder ….as with the horse. It then came to a discussion of intestinal anatomy where unfortunately the pig successfully proposed adoption of its unique spiral colon….. unfortunate because it is predisposed to GI obstruction as the centripetal loops reverse to become centrifugal. While the intake of predominately forage caused surprisingly minimal disagreement, consistency of exiting feces was a hot topic. Again, the ruminant coalition was very involved but with the small species (sheep and goats) prevailing over “cow pies” such that less messy pelleted stool emerged. The horse feeling very satisfied to this point, chose to not be involved with the Foot Committee. That being the case, those species remaining had only to decide on how many toes and the physical structure there of. There was of course a vote from the dog and cat for a maximum of only 4 since dew claws had not served them well to that point. Yet a proposal from the conventional ruminants including the giraffe that two toes would suffice prevailed while granting to those carnivores that the toes could have pads and nails instead of a restrictive hoof. Since the giraffe to this point had had surprisingly minimal input, it proposed a relatively long neck for this new critter along with the necessary jugular vein valves to prevent blood from rushing to the head while grazing. That same long neck will be featured in the Behavior Committee and does provide for some additional owner amusement as we watch the regurgitated food cud travel up and down the neck during digestive “rumination.” As one might imagine, the Behavior Committee was comprised of some surprising critters, namely a chicken, a snake and the giraffe. The chicken contributed the daily dusting routine as well as the attention getting clucking characteristic particularly of males. The giraffe imparted neck play fighting, “necking” if you will. And did we fail to say that the snake was a spitting cobra? And while on the subject of snake…, it was the snake that provided the cria with an epidermal membrane that molts during the first few hours of life. There, you can still take your choice of where these special critters came from. Through my well used “retrospectroscope,” I only wish that if evolution were really the answer that the migration would have come directly to the Rocky Mountains instead of the Andes.
About the author: Dr. Johnson is Professor Emeritus at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences of Colorado State University. He has been working with camelids for over 41years and is internationally known for his expertise. He has authored numerous publications on camelid health, nutrition, and reproduction and is well known for his Neonatal Clinics. Discover Llamas • 33
LLAMA carting, how to get started ...ON A SHOE STRING by Greg Hall Simplicity Llama Farm • Dobson NC Having a llama that can do carting is as rewarding as it sounds. (I reference boys here, but girls are just as capable at working. But most girls have a Cria in tow, so I generally just see boys on the road). But how do you start? Well, first you need the appropriate llama. Any llama ‘can’ pull a cart, but to have the most fun, (and to be safe on the road), your llama will need to have certain qualities: • Doesn’t spook easily. If a dog comes barking out from behind a tree, how will your llama react?. Car honking as it passes you? Remember, you will be 20 feet behind from your llama, and you need to know in advance if your guy is skittish. How to do this? Walk along a busy street. You might have to bring your llama to town, and park in the back of a McDonalds. Every manager I met was delighted to have a llama hanging out in front of the business, since people would turn in and ask if they could get a picture of him. (Just recommend that they get a cup of coffee inside). But what’s really going on here? The llama is hearing the noise of traffic go by, and figuring out that none of it will harm him. If he’s good there, walk down the sidewalk, maybe a block and back. Is he doing better with traffic? That’s great! • He wants to be in front. How do you tell? Go for a walk. Is he dragging you along, or are you pulling him to go for a walk. One that wants to ‘lead the way’ is usually the temperament that will work well as a carting llama. How to do this? Take him somewhere that he’s been. They quickly learn where a location, and can figure out if you are heading home. Repition helps, but rather than only walking to and from your home, load him up and go to the park where there might be jogging or bike trails. If he starts ‘being in front’, then you have the making of a great cart llama! • Can you rub him EVERYWHERE? There are straps around the chest, leads attached to his head, dangling straps in strange places, AND the croup riding on his tail. If he isn’t desensitized when you start, he will be when you finish! How to do this? Do you have a Llama Pack that he wears? 34 • Discover Llamas
Then you are 95% there! If not, try these steps: Start with a regular towel. Put it on his back. Count to 5, take it off, count to 5, put it back on him again (in a slightly different location. Rinse and repeat, but only about 10 times. Stop. Do something else, like check his foot. Now check another foot. Meanwhile, that towel is still on his back. Walk in a circle. Now go the other way. Stop, and do the towel 10 more times. BUT do this from the ‘Off ’ side, the right side of your llama. (Llamas have two parts of the brain, and the right and left sides don’t always communicate well, so being on the Off side is almost like working with a brand new llama. Don’t worry, he’ll figure it out). OK, all done. Take the towel off. Good for the day (or at least for the remainder of 90 minutes), and let him graze, etc. Next day, get a beach towel. Something that can hit his knees when he walks. On and off 10 times (with 5 seconds each change). Tie it around his neck. Lay it over his tail. Walk a little bit. Take it off. Do something different, (like checking a foot or teeth, or even try putting a bandanna around his nose, like a COVID mask for llamas :-). Let him relax for a minute, then go back to playing with the larger towel, again from the Off side. OK, now he thinks your psycho! What’s with the towels? Well, can you rub his belly? Just reach under and give him a nice scratch. No problems? Go get a long lead rope, and tie that around his chest, just behind his front legs. (This is where the Saddle or Terret will go (See below). This is just to get him use to ’stuff ’ on his back. Next, go get some 1/2 gallon milk jugs, fill them 1/4 with water, and tie/lay them over his back. It’s not the weight we are working on here, it’s the ‘banging’ against his legs we want him to get used to. (There isn’t really anything on a cart that ‘bangs’ against a llama, but this helps to get him used to you being crazy and doing strange things). Don’t forget to let them also bang against his rear legs, etc.) Final desensitizing, go get three 10 foot long pieces of PVC pipe. Two are thick (and will drag on the ground), the third one is a cross member (or 2) that you can lash/tape in place so they keep the two long poles an equal distance apart. (Think Indian travois for carrying supplies). You DO want these to
fall off, if your llama panics, so think this through. Bungie cords wrapped around the poles several times, then attached to that belt going around his chest. These are designed to drag on the ground, make some noise, and impede him from quickly turning around. Once he’s good with that, (doesn’t panic), attach them to his home made harness, Drill a few holes on one end, so you can run cord to hold them on his back and then add some weight to the travois for extra noise and weight to pull. Is he independent? Carting is usually a one llama show, and leaving his friends is a requirement for training. (Yes, there are teams of Llamas, but my experience is that they all started solo. That said, IF you can find another carting companion with their llama, then ‘Follow the Leader’ is a very useful training process. Click and Reward trained? It makes the process of training smoother. Using a clicker and treats, every llama can be taught how to do something as ‘complicated’ as pulling a cart. (‘Click and Reward’ is what I first saw in action with Jim and Amy Logan, back in the 1990s. • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxTnoZut4WY)
EQUIPMENT Yes, you will need a cart eventually, but first, let’s talk about the rest of the ‘stuff ’ and the harness. These sites show a lot of the gear you will need: • • • •
https://www.llamahardware.com/driving-gear.html http://lostcreekllamas.com/driving.htm https://llamaproducts.com/tack/harness-carts/ https://www.useful-items.com/category-s/176.htm
Other interesting articles:
With a regular halter, attach the reins to the cheek rings. There are your ‘normal’ (regular) halters, and also several ‘driving’ halters.
This halter looks like a normal halter found at Quality Llama Products, but has extra rings to attach your long reins: • https://llamaproducts.com/llama-driving-halter.html. This also comes with a padded wool nose bridge is you feel it’s more comfortable. This second halter, Flaming Star Driving Halter: • https://llamaproducts.com/llama-driving-halter.html This has an adjustable steel bar across the nose, allowing more control.
HARNESS You don’t have to buy a finished Llama harness to get started in training. (But it does help)
• https://www.jnkllamas.com/llama-driving-or-lla ma-carting-information.html • http://www.centraloregonllamas.org/driving.html • http://www.llamas-information.com/llama-training/lla ma-training-what-you-should-teach-your-llamas/
HALTER You can use your existing halter! Just make sure it fits well. Your halter needs to fit well up on the bridge of nose. Tight around the ears. I prefer the ZephyrX halters for adjustability. • https://www.camelidynamcs.com/store/category/zephyr-halters/
This is a harness fashioned from a lead rope. Notice the loop making a ring for the reins to go through. Discover Llamas • 35
Ground driving with both types of improvised non-traditional driving harnesses.
In this example, a portion of a pack is used.
Aount the author: Greg Hall has been cart driving since 1994. He and his family have had llamas since 1991 and currently have eighteen llamas, five of which were rescues. At it’s peak their herd population was thirty-four. They have moved around the country with their llamas from Seattle WA to Rochester NY to Mt Airy NC. Greg’s wife Maylene started the first 4H club with llamas in Rochester NY. They are very active in the show circuit and have shown in nineteen different states. Greg is well known for the lead ropes he makes and donates to first and second class winners in youth performance classes.
You need a strap around the chest, to hold the reins. This is called the Saddle or Terret on the pictures of horse harnesses you can find on the Internet. The object is to have a single point of ’turning’ for the reins. Using something as simple as a lead rope with a loop at the top can get you started. Check the sites mentioned above for an actual LLAMA harness. (Shetland ponies are the closest to a llama in size, but all the attachments need to be resized, and who wants to do all that work?
All article photos provided by the author. Also check out Greg’s article on page 30 of the 2017 Issue of Discover Llamas which can be found on the SSLA website. 36 • Discover Llamas
Just arriving from Facebook after a visit to the PhotoShop, Bernie in his camelid mittens and Peanut, the trusted cart llama are greeted by unidentified children. The locale is Ft. Fisher along the North Carolina coast. I think he may be a bit overdressed. Photo provided by Vicki Sundberg. Discover Llamas • 37
POISONOUS PLANTS DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S IN YOUR PASTURES?
by Shay Stratford Willie’s Spirit Farm • Marshall NC In the South and Southeast there are many native trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, weeds and ground covers that are poisonous, some deadly. Your landscaping may also add to similar risks. Luckily information on this topic is more available than ever, through the internet, and through our lama associates. University faculty -- including the late Murray Fowler, DVM and LaRue Johnson, DVM, PhD -- have contributed to the study of plant poisonings over decades, as have other camelid veterinary specialists, botanists, and biologists. Finally, Cooperative Extension Services are available in most counties in the country and typically provide helpful publications as well as extension agents who can work with you to screen your property for plant material that might pose a problem for camelids. In short, this is a topic that you can and should educate yourself about.
Tango grabbing a snack of Poplar leaves.
People who have graced their lives with the additions of llamas, alpacas and other charming souls have responsibilities to make sure their animals remain safe and healthy. Since my introduction to llamas years ago I have learned that there are many plants that lamas may encounter and eat that could be dangerous and even lethal. After our 6-year old Bambi ate some azalea leaves and became VERY ill, I started my research on potential poisonous plants at our farm and then where they occur elsewhere. Although llamas and alpacas will both graze and browse, llamas preferentially browse and alpacas preferentially graze. For the duration of this article the term lama (one “L”) will be used to collectively refer to both llamas and alpacas. 38 • Discover Llamas
Prevention is critical. For example, your lamas may saunter through an unlatched gate, jump a fence or break away from a lead. Your pastures or yard may contain toxic plants. So too your neighborhood. Signs and symptoms after a dangerous intake may be nonspecific with little that you or your vet can do thereafter. However, knowing what your animals COULD have been exposed to can make the task of treatment more focused and hopefully more successful. Interventions may include simple pain meds and sedatives, supplemental fluids, charcoal to inactivate toxins, cathartics to flush poisons through the gastrointestinal tract quickly or other more urgent and advanced therapies. Discuss these issues early with your vet as part of overall farm management. What’s critical to this topic is the awareness of certain principles to help guide the assessment of your property and its potential risks. Like “baby proofing” your home this is “lama proofing” your property.
PRINCIPLES TO AVOID PLANT POISONING • Be fully aware of the identity of plants in your surround ings and evaluate throughout the seasons and years. Note colors and other features of leaves, flowers and bark. • Maintain an adequate and safe diet to avoid your lamas curiosity about more interesting and potentially toxic plants that have taken root over time. Lamas prefer a
“cafeteria-style” diet if available. Poisonous plants may be inadvertently eaten if animals have inadequate pasture forage. • Use appropriate fencing if needed to avoid contact with problematic plants. • Monitor fence lines and water edges that may harbor particularly toxic plants such as water hemlock that will emerge in early spring. • Note if landscapes created by neighbors may be contribut ing to new risky plants. • Butterfly gardens can include many plants that are toxic to livestock. • Scan areas if you think something poisonous has been eaten and look for leaves, fallen branches, and/or new plants. • Limit pasturing in areas during drought and cold weather when usual browse may be minimal and other plants ap pealing. These conditions can also increase toxicity. • Application of herbicides can result in more palatable plants. Do not allow these to be consumed. • If pasture plants are not regularly eaten, this is a sign that they may well be unpalatable (and likely toxic) and should be removed from the area. • Many invasive plants have arrived in recent years, overrunning previously established pastures. These invasives can also be toxic. Re-establishing usual forage can be dif ficult.
Wild (Black) Cherry
CHERRY – Rose family - This includes our native black and wild cherry trees along with chokecherry, weeping cherry and cultivated fruit trees. All parts of the plant are toxic, except for the fleshy fruit, but the greatest threat to camelids is from wilting leaves. These are not leaves that fall from the tree in autumn, but those wilting suddenly after a branch breaks and is blown down by the wind or is pruned. In these situations cyanide is produced, and if leaves are eaten, death can occur quickly. Eliminate these plants from your property and, to avoid tragedy, don’t use them in any way (e.g. in a mulch pile). Cherries have characteristic leaves and bark that can be used in identification.
• Outside of your pastures, make sure gardens and landscaping don’t pose risks to your lamas. • Avoid lawn, tree and other trimmings that may be toxic (e.g., cherry trees and others). • Don’t rely on the notion that poisonous plants taste bad and won’t be eaten. That’s often true but not always. • A healthy lama will be more tolerant of minor plant poisonings. • Avoid pasture overgrazing. This can be done by limiting the number of lamas per acre or rotating pastures. • Assess your animal if it appears to be sick, describe symptoms, and report all to your veterinarian.
MANY NATIVE AND LANDSCAPE PLANTS OF THE SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ARE POISONOUS – THESE ARE A FEW OF THE MOST TOXIC
RHODODENDRON – Heath family – These are the beloved azaleas, mountain laurels, rhododendrons, dog hobble and pieris that are native and used in natural landscaping. These plants are very toxic and can be lethal. Look for alternate landscape plants and search diligently for these natives, which tend to be north facing. If left in place, your animals will be at risk unless they are fenced off. Discover Llamas • 39
JOHNSON GRASS – Grass family – Is a broad-leafed grass, used for forage. Animals can be poisoned by cyanide and nitrate accumulation from young damaged leaves causing respiratory compromise leading to rapid death. Herbicides can also cause severe injury. Ruminants are most affected.
Yellow (Carolina) Jessamine
YELLOW JESSAMINE – Logania family - It’s a woody vine, all parts toxic, with neurologic injury and respiratory failure that progress rapidly. Found in swampy and forest areas, climbs trees and fences. The vine appears early in spring and is therefore one of the earliest green plants. Look high in the trees for yellow blooms and green leaves that may fall in the winds. The plants may also trail on the ground. The toxins are muscle gelsemine and other compounds related to strychnine, concentrating in the roots. Symptoms include muscle spasms, excitability and pain with respiratory failure and death occur quickly. Effects humans, other animals and bees.
WATER HEMLOCK – Parsley family - The word “hemlock” is well known and caused the demise of Socrates in 399 B.C. However, water hemlock is unrelated to Carolina Hemlock (the evergreen). Their similarity is in name only. In the world of animal poisoning, it is one of the most toxic plants in this country. Cattle are particularly sensitive and the plant is often referred to as “cowbane.” All parts of the plant are toxic but the stem at the base and the root are most poisonous. All animals can be affected, including humans. People have been killed after only 1 or 2 bites. The plant appears in the early spring, in marshy areas that make it easier for cows to dig or pull up the plants. The toxin is cicutoxin, which affects the central nervous system. Symptoms occur very quickly and death can be rapid. Removal of the plants is recommended. 40 • Discover Llamas
BRACKENFERN – Fern family - All parts of the plant are toxic including roots, the toxin is present in fresh or dry plants. All animals, especially ruminants, experience effects on the bone marrow. Horses experience delayed affects with neurologic symptoms potentially progressing to death, and some ruminants developing polio type symptoms. Ruminants can progress to bleeding disorders, respiratory failure and death.
LIGUSTRUM (Boxwood and Privet are similar) – Olive family - These are native and invasive plants. Berries and leaves toxic, causing gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea), hypotension and kidney injury leading to failure. Animals usually avoid intake unless starving. Death occurs quickly if intake is significant.
OLEANDER – Dogbane family – Is a large flowering shrub found along the east coast and used as a landscape plant. ALL parts of the plant are extremely toxic both fresh and dry. Smoke from burning branches and the fragrance of flowers can cause death. All animals, including humans, should avoid this plant.
Castor Bean Yew
YEW - Yew family - is a landscape and native evergreen. All parts are toxic, both fresh and dry with highest toxicity in winter. It is the only poisonous evergreen. Plants are extremely toxic with sudden death often following very small intakes by horses or cows. The plants are somewhat palatable. The toxin, knowm as taxine, affects the heart, with death occurring quickly. Interferes with cardiac electrical activity. First aid is usually ineffective given rapid death.
CASTOR BEAN – Spurge family – quick growing garden annual. All parts toxic with “beans” containing the highest concentration of ricin. It produces severe gastrointestinal irritation, sweating, collapse, and coma. Small dose can result in death. It’s a very poisonous plant and should be avoided. About the author: Shay is retired. She and her husband have had llamas since 1994. She took an interest in poisonous plants after one of her llamas was poisoned by azaleas. She currently volunteers on the SSLA Poisonous Plant Hotline.
Please check out the poisonous plant references on page 52 to further educate yourself about potemtial problems for the lamas on your farm. Discover Llamas • 41
Llama Behavior — the Normal, the Undesirable, and the Dangerous by Susan Gawarecki Pathfinder Farm • Andersonville TN So many people want a llama—or alpaca—because they are so darn cute with those dark eyes, long eyelashes, big ears, and fuzzy fleece. And people want a friendly llama that they can pet and hug, that is easy to walk up to and put a halter on, and that will always come to greet them. These are the requests that I see often as a breeder and as an adoption coordinator for Southeast Llama Rescue. But the difficult truth is that a normal llama is unlikely to act this way unless the owner has worked hard to gain its trust through effective handling and training. I tell people that llamas prefer to be admired from an arm’s length plus six inches. The behavior patterns of llamas and alpacas are essentially different from those of other livestock and are substantially unlike those of dogs and cats. Llamas are by nature “touch-me-nots”; the mothers don’t lick or nuzzle their crias (babies), instead they touch them briefly and hum to them. Bonded llama buddies rarely touch each other, although they may stay close when resting or grazing. Only during the coldest weather do I see llamas lie very close together. Otherwise close contact is most typically sparring, wrestling, or fighting for herd dominance. The discussion in this article applies to both llamas and alpacas, as they have such similar behavioral characteristics. The Internet is rife with videos of crias being raised as indoor pets or young animals playing with children. It has as many—or more—videos of adult llamas chasing, attacking, or spitting on people who venture into their paddocks or get too close to the fence. What the public does not understand is that the first leads almost invariably to the second. With an increased popularity of llamas there has been a parallel increase in unethical breeders selling crias “on the bottle” after being taken early from their mothers. This is designed to produce a pet that will interact closely with the owner and demonstrate what appears to be affection and interest by nuzzling, gurgling, flipping its tail, following people around, tugging on their clothing, and other engaging actions. However, this relationship inevitably ends in tears when the animal reaches adolescence as the hormones and adult behaviors appear. What is happening here? A cria that is raised within a herd of its peers learns llama body language, llama behaviors, and its place in the pecking order—and how that is established and 42 • Discover Llamas
maintained. A llama raised as a pet instead bonds to people, learns how to respond to people, and has no idea about dominance relationships. These experiences as young crias establish permanent patterns in their brains. But the onset of adolescence triggers males to spar with their contemporaries and females to explore their status relative to others in their herd. If their peers are people the males begin to chest-butt and bite, and the females start spitting and may also display physical pushiness. By this time—generally between two and three years of age—the “cute cria” weighs 200-plus pounds and can pose a real physical threat. The well-meaning owner simply does not understand why their affectionate pet has suddenly turned into an aggressive monster. The prognosis for llamas raised as bottle-fed pets is typically dire, as rehabilitation is impossible, and most people don’t want the liability of a dangerous animal on their property. Moreover, even if kept with other llamas, these individuals cannot bond to the herd and suffer alienation from and rejection by other llamas. Early in the North American llama industry aggressive behavior was typically associated with males, and the term Berserk Male Syndrome (BMS) was coined. It overlooked undesirable female behaviors—even a pushy spitting female could make the owner money by making babies. As the cause of aggressive behaviors in both sexes became better understood as due to overhandling at a young age by humans, BMS has been replaced by ABS—Aberrant Behavior Syndrome. It is also clear that this is a spectrum disorder, and that early experiences other than bottle-feeding and being raised as a pet can lead to ABS. One of the leading causes is petting zoos, which take young animals and put them in constant contact with the public to be petted and hand-fed. As the animals become larger and less cute with age, these operations often sell them, and the results a year or so later are predictably unpleasant. The exploitation of young llamas and alpacas is purely financially driven and relies on an uneducated public, often an impulse buyer at a flea market or livestock auction. This is why it is so important for prospective llama owners to do research on llama behavior and care before they bring an an-
imal home, and why it is important to buy from a reputable breeder or acquire from a rescue that thoroughly evaluates the animal before offering it for adoption. Too many people get it backwards, and when their experience turns negative, that’s when they start asking questions on online forums. Whether it is behavior- or health-related, by that time it is often too late for the llama. And so, it ends in tears. The situation when buying an adult llama with ABS may be more complicated. Again, they are most often sold at auctions and other venues where liability is not easily traced. A male llama with ABS can be brought to a new farm and appear to be manageable and personable for the first three weeks or so. Then—out of the blue—he will attack the owner, usually from behind, and possibly attempt to kneel on or bite him or her. The problem behaviors appear when the animal becomes accustomed to his new surroundings and has an opportunity to evaluate the people that he interacts with. He defines his territory and claims dominance.
ators trading on the innate cuteness of crias. Such operations must be confronted and shut down. This may mean educating lawmakers, animal control officers, humane societies, and agricultural extension agents, with the goal of creating standards of care that can be legally enforced. Livestock auctions should be forbidden from separating unweaned crias from their mothers and be in the chain of liability if ABS adults are sold. Education of prospective owners is necessary, as well. Those who want small livestock that will closely interact with them should be directed towards goats or mini-donkeys that enjoy physical contact with people. And ethical breeders should be willing to mentor buyers regarding appropriate handling and training techniques for weanlings and place these only if another llama is resident at the farm. So you want a friendly llama that you can pet and hug, that is easy to walk up to and put a halter on, and that will always come to greet you? This is achieved by learning to speak “llama,” which is based on body language and behavior. It is helpful to take courses by top llama trainers—each have their own method, but all rely on teaching the owner to understand and work with typical llama behavior. Sending your llama off to be “trained” is rarely successful if you do not make the effort to gain its trust and understand its communications and motivations. Most important is to understand that you are in some sense a part of its herd, and in another sense apart from its herd. You must have the animal’s respect, and in order to achieve that, you must know what disrespectful behavior is—it may include bumping, blocking, and pushing (all of those “touching” behaviors you don’t normally see, except when the pecking-order is being challenged). There should be little tolerance for these behaviors and although extinguishing them cannot be achieved with “punishment,” llamas do understand physical reaction, and so use of knees or elbows to jab a llama that is testing your status by swinging into your path is an appropriate response. Enforcement of your personal space and primacy is achieved by consistent conduct during all aspects of dealing with your animals, whether it be feeding, routine care, haltering, or going for outings. Indeed, the more you work with your llamas (or alpacas) in a consistent and calm manner, the better your relationship will become with them. And in the end, you will gain their respect, plus you will come to appreciate the individual personalities of each and know which ones will tolerate being petted, which ones enjoy outings, and which ones will always stand an arm’s length plus six inches away.
Llamas that are raised with their own kind and are not otherwise overhandled rarely act aggressively towards people, though some may engage in unruly behavior including spitting on or knocking a person down, especially if focused on pending feeding or breeding activities. This is distinguished from full-blown ABS, where the llama is intent on attacking or spitting on people who approach it, in extreme cases running the fence line screaming and charging. These llamas do not respond to intervention or training and inevitably are either euthanized or “managed” using defensive means such as rackets, bats, or powerful water guns wielded by the owner. As mentioned earlier, ABS seems to be a spectrum disorder. Some llamas have a moderate form of ABS due to being overhandled as pets after weaning, others may have had to be supplemented with a bottle due to being orphaned or the dam having insufficient milk, even if it is kept with a herd (please note that if bottle-feeding is handled in a business-like manner—no cuddling or cooing allowed—a cria can grow up normally). While rehabilitation of these animals may be possible, only an experienced llama owner knows normal llama behavior and how to enforce personal space, discourage spitting, and train to extinguish undesirable behaviors. Some animals will likely never be trustworthy. Those with relatively minor behavioral problems (such as disrespectful interactions with people)—especially if escalation to aggressive behaviors is nipped in the bud—can often be rehabilitated and appear to benefit most if placed where they have a job, such as in a pack string or as a small-livestock guardian. The single most important first step in addressing any aggressive About the author: Susan Gawarecki has owned llamas since or problematic behavior thought to be on the ABS spectrum 1995. She maintains a small breeding herd with a focus on is castration, because testosterone drives so much of male llaworking animals at Pathfinder Farm in Andersonville, Tennesmas’ territorial and dominance behavior patterns. see. She trains and uses llamas for packing, driving, showing, What can we do to prevent ABS? The reputation of the en- and public appearances. Susan has also been involved with tire llama industry suffers when aggressive llamas are created Southeast Llama Rescue since its inception and is currently the through the actions of unethical sellers or petting-zoo oper- Tennessee Adoption Coordinator. Discover Llamas • 43
Medical Kit Suggestions For Llama Day Hikes compiled by the PLTA When putting together a medical kit for your llamas and humans, you will need to ask yourself several questions: 1. What part of the country are you packing in and what time of year are you packing? a. (consider) Elevation b. (consider) Heat and Cold index c. (consider) Trail conditions. Cross-country, rocky or dirt trails d. (consider) Will hikers/hunters be in the area you are exploring? e. (consider) Remoteness and length of trip 2. What types of animals or poisonous plants might you come in contact with on the trail? 3. When dealing with medical pre-trip questions, always defer to the experts, such as your veterinarian when putting a kit together. The list assembled by PLTA veterans, may not be all inclusive to your area of the country, nor may it have some of the medical treatments you are familiar with. 4. Have a central location and container for your kit. In panniers, some of us use a square, 4-gallon bucket to hold everything. It contains human and animal medical supplies. 5. Rather than just list our kit, we have put it into subjects for ease of use. 6. Always be aware of trip members and medical conditions they may have. 7. It is not required or expected that you carry all items. There is redundancy, so use common sense, recognize your limitations with weight, and the area you are hiking in. MEDICAL KIT SUGGESTIONS SINGLE DAY HIKES KIT TYPE (single day) ITEM USE_______ ABRASIONS /SMALL CUTS/HOT SPOTS Day Hike Band-Aids small cuts Day Hike Triple Anti-Biotic(Neosporin) small cuts Day Hike Super glue small cuts Day Hike Blister Pads hot spots Day Hike Iodine cleanser Day Hike Topical Sprays (Veterycin) cleanser SUPPORT/RESTRICT MOVEMENT Day Hike SAM SPLINTS support sprains Day Hike Vet Wrap bandaging Day Hike Duct Tape foot repair Day Hike Electrical Tape various uses Day Hike Ace Bandage support WOUNDS, GOUGES, SPRAINS/BREAKS Day Hike Diapers bandaging Day Hike Sanitary napkin bandaging Day Hike Tampons bandaging Day Hike Scissors bandaging Day Hike Duct Tape foot repair Day Hike Electrical Tape various uses Day Hike Betadine surgical scrub Day Hike Blood Stop Day Hike Vet Wrap bandaging Day Hike Silver Sulfadiazine 1% wounds (vet) 44 • Discover Llamas
SNAKE BITES/STINGS Day Hikes small, large nose tubing (6”-8”) breathing Day Hikes Sudafed breathing Day Hikes Benadryl GENERAL ACHES/PAINS Day Hikes Aspirin pain relief Day Hikes Arnica tablets pain relief Day Hikes Ibuprofen pain relief Day Hikes Tylenol pain relief Day Hikes Instant cold pack pain relief Day Hikes Meloxicam pain relief STOMACH ISSUES, POISONOUS PLANTS Day Hike Activated charcoal digestive Day Hike Antacid digestive Day Hike Pectin digestive EYE ISSUES Day Hike Eye Wash eye issues Day Hike Squirt bottle(s) eye/wound issues LOWER FOOT INJURIES Day Hike
Llama medical boot (small and/or large)
PREDATORY ANIMALS Pepper spray, bear spray MISCELLANEOUS Surgical gloves, para-cord (rope), colorful neck gaiters, flagging
The Kyst 1561 Galilee Church Road Jefferson, Georgia 30549 Kim’s cell: 678-481-3759
Discover Llamas • 45
The Difference Between Pack Trials and Show Pack Class by Mary Rose Collins Casadellama • Inverness FL The purpose of this article is not to tell you all you need to know about Pack Classes in a Llama Show or all you need to know about Packing on the Trail with your llama. Guidelines, Rules and Criteria can be found in the ALSA Handbook or the PLTA Rules. There are also many very good articles already on proper fit of the pack for different usage and equipment. This article is for the folks who have been showing your llama in a Show Ring Pack Class and now want to start Recreational Packing or a Pack Trial, more like a day or two on the trail. Or I have this great animal who I hike with and now I want to get into the Show Ring. How do we begin and what is the difference? Let’s start with the animal in the Show Ring, llamas and alpacas must be 5 months old to compete in any Pack Class. Age Requirements: (1) Between 5 to 36 months llamas or alpacas carry no weight, but must carry a pack system or training pack with two cinches, complete with fill material to simulate a full pack loaded for an actual packing trip. It is not required that the panniers be removable. (2) At 36 months and over llamas carry 20 lbs. [Miniature llamas and alpacas will not carry any additional weight to pack system other than light weight fill material for panniers.] When choosing a Pack for the Show Ring consider ease in removing (too many moving parts can be difficult on the handler and require the animal to stand still longer) and loading the pack. Consider a lower profile across the back, higher frames can get stuck easily on duck under especially with a taller animal. It is not physically challenging for the animal to carry a pack around a flat ring surface even if your animal is carrying the required 20 lbs. for a Novice Pack Class. If your load is evenly balanced then stepping up on a bridge and walking the length should not be a problem. What you see as the biggest challenge is getting your animal to stand still while you open the pack and put something in it or removing the pack. So when you start working an animal for Show Pack Class you are working on getting them used to the pack and standing still. When you are doing a Pack Trial, the animal is carrying a percentage of their body weight. The minimum age is 24 months to participate and they will carry no weight until 30 months. At 30 months it is 10% of their body weight. Advanced must 46 • Discover Llamas
be at least 3 years old and carry 15% of their body weight. So that big animal that you think is strong enough to handle the Pack Trials may disagree when carrying 40lbs for 3 to 5 miles with an evaluation change of between 250 to 1000 feet. The Pack System needs to be more substantial, heavier duty with a frame to support additional weight, two cinches plus chest and rear strap. The chest and rear straps keep the pack from slipping while climbing or descending elevations. The pack should be size appropriate to the animal. To large or small and the weight distribution will be incorrect and out of balance. So maybe a Pack Trial is more than you can manage and you are just thinking of day hiking. However, many of the same things need to be taken into consideration. Will your animal follow your lead no matter what the lies ahead? Many things you encounter on any hike can be anticipated based on your location and the type of terrain you are hiking. Many of the items listed in the PLTA handbook will give reference points as to what to get your animal desensitized to. For instance, at the beginning of a Pack Trial your animal will be tested for manageability. This includes the five tasks listed below that will be completed before starting out on the trail.
PLTA MANAGEABILITY TASKS (PLTA Handbook Section 4.3, Field Test, 2018 Edition) The tasks are evaluated for llamas and alpacs participating individually are: • Haltering • Loading and Unloading • Picketing • Saddling • Pack Attachment Haltering The halter is removed from the llama while confined in a small pen or trailer. The animal is allowed to be completely free within the confines of the enclosure; often the handler is asked to step away from the llama and move to the opposite end of the enclosure so the llama recognizes it is loose. After
a short time, or when it is obvious that the llama realizes it is free, the handler is asked to put the halter back on. The interaction between the llama and handler is evaluated for calmness. During halter removal and re-haltering, the llama is expected to remain calm, allow approach without becoming anxious and accept the halter without becoming unruly. Picketing The llama is tied by a line to something fixed or that pivots around a stake in the ground for a minimum of five minutes. The line shall be between sixteen (16) and thirty (30) feet long. The llama must remain calm even if they become entangled in the line. If the llama becomes ‘hog-tied’ where the rope encircles the llama’s feet so it can’t move, or becomes tangled and panics, performance/safety deductions are made. If the event is held at a location where llamas participating in trials have been staked out for long periods with no problems occurring, the picketing Manageability Task requirement can be waived. Loading/Unloading The llama shall be loaded and unloaded from a trailer or vehicle. While loading and unloading the llama should willingly enter and exit the trailer or vehicle. Performance/safety deductions are made if it balks or refuses, or leaps out of or into the trailer in an unsafe manner. Saddling The llama must be saddled properly. The llama should stand calmly while the handler attaches all parts of the saddle system except for the panniers or packs. The handler may have assistance with this task. Pack Attachment The panniers must be attached to the saddled llama properly while the llama stands calmly. The handler may have assistance with this task.
FIELD TEST - OBSTACLES
• Basic Pack Trial Obstacle Requirements Category
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
Picking One’s Way
any obstacle from category
Tight Places Any Category
any obstacle from category any obstacle appropriate to trial level
• Advanced Pack Trial Obstacle Requirements Category
any obstacle from category
water (if possible)
Picking One’s Way
Picking One’s Way
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
any obstacle from category
* Obstacles are chosen by the Trial Marshall from three different categories. • Master Pack Trial Requirements Category Up/Over/Across Foot Fear
Required Obstacle any obstacle from category water (if possible)
(PLTA Handbook Section 4.4, Field Test, 2018 Edition)
Picking One’s Way
Then there are obstacles out on the course which are similar to what you would or could encounter on your day hike so practicing with obstacles in mind helps you prepare your animal for any event.
Picking One’s Way
Obstacles • Each trial level has specific obstacle requirements that must be addressed on the course.
any obstacle from category
Load Management panniers off and foot inspection Eight complex obstacles, each created from com- Any obstacles appropriate to the binations of obstacles trial level from two or more categories Discover Llamas • 47
PACK CLASS - OBSTACLES (ALSA Handbook Section M-14, 2019; 22nd Edition) When you are entering your llama or alpaca in a Pack Class at a Show, there are basic tasks as well but they are not completed before entering the ring. They are part of the class. These are considered obstacles rather than tasks.
ticipating in a Pack Trial or competing in a Show Pack Class our animals seem to enjoy being a working animal that theirheritage bestowed on them. So get out there and enjoy a day in the park, a climb up a mountain, or a show course. See what your animal can do, stretch your and their imagination as you both figure out a course individually and as a team.
F. MANDATORY OBSTACLES 1. Bridge or ramp (Both animal and Handler)
2. Step over (12 inches maximum height) 3. Manageability (Haltering, tie out, add to pack, pick up foot and inspect) 4. Take off the pack (except in Youth classes) 5. Flexibility and maneuvering (Weave) We find whether you are out for adventure on the trail, par-
A happy group of hikers posing during an SSLA Spring Pack Trial in Dupont North Carolina State Forrest. Photo provided by the author
About the author: Mary Rose Collins participates in both Pack Trials and in Show Pack Classes. She has enjoyed showing and hiking with her llamas for 15 years. Her farm, Casadellama is in Inverness FL where she also resides.
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MOOSE HILL LLAMAS
Willie’s Spirit Farm
Shay Stratford & Tom Wilson 99 Quill Ammons Holler • Marshall NC 28753 828-689-3250 • email@example.com
Discover Llamas • 49
Karen Oertley-Pihera, D.V.M. (770) 893-2376 153 Lovelady Rd. W. Ball Ground, GA 30107 firstname.lastname@example.org
ALSA Llama/Alpaca Judge Halter Performance Fleece 727.457.3578 email@example.com
50 • Discover Llamas
Editor’s Note I hope you enjoy our Discover Llamas magazine. SSLA is starting something new. In addition to having a print version we will also have an online version as well. Just go to the SSLA website at ssla.org or use your smart phone with the QR Code on the title page of this publication, opposite the inside front cover, below the President’s message. In the articles of this issue, llamas and alpacas can be used interchangably. If it says llamas you can substitute alpaca and vice versa. If is says lama (with one “L”, it refers to both). I would like to extend my appreciation to all who conributed by writing articles, taking photos, being on the committee, and our advertisers. And special thanks to Scott Wilson, Shay Stratford, Andie Frederick, Liam Munroe, and Ron Hinds for their “behind the scenes” help. Please thank and patronize our advertisers. Without them this publication would not be possible. If you are already a member of SSLA, volunteer for something; be on a committee, run for the Board, or help out at shows and events. If you aren’t a member yet, I encourage you to join - you’ll be glad you did. Your membership will make us even stronger.
Tom Wilson Discover Llamas • 51
LAMA RELATED REFERENCE LIST ORGANIZATIONS AND WEBSITES: ALSA (Alpaca & Llama Show Association).......................................................................................................................alsashow.net AMLA (American Miniature Llama Association)....................................................................................minillamalady.weebly.com COLA (Central Oregon Llama Association).................................................................................................centraloregonllamas.org GALA (The Greater Appalachian Llama and Alpaca Association).............................................................................galaonline.org ILR (International Lama Registry)..............................................................................................................................lamaregistry.com FALA (Florida Alpaca and Llama Association, Inc.)...………………...................................…......................................falainc.com LANA (Llama Association of North America)..................................................................................................................lanainfo.org ORVLA (Ohio River Valley Llama Association)...................................................................................................................orvla.com PLTA (Pack Llama Trail Association)..............................................................................................................................packllama.org RMLA (Rocky Mountain Llama & Alpaca Association)......................................................................................................rmla.com SELR (Southeast Llama Rescue)....................................................................................................................southeastllamarescue.org SSLA (Southern States Llama Association)................................................................................................................................ssla.org Suri Llama Registry.......................................................................................................................................................lamaregistry.com
PERIODICAL WEBSITES: American Llama Magazine.....................................................................................................................................llamamagazine.com Camelid Quarterly/Camelid Chronicals............................................................................................................camelidquarterly.com
VET SCHOOL WEBSITES: Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.............................................................................................vetmed.auburn.edu Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences................................csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine……………….....................................................…...........vet.k-state.edu North Carolina Sate University College of Veterinary Medicine..................................................................................cvm.ncsu.edu Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.......................................................................................................vet.osu.edu Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine.............................................................................vetmed.oregonstate.edu Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.....................................vbs.psu.edu Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine................................................................................................................vet.tufts.edu University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine..........................................................................vetmed.ucdavis.edu University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.................................................................................................vetmed.ufl.edu University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine......................................................................................................vet.uga.edu University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine……………....................................................…............cvm.missouri.edu University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.........................................................................vetmed.tennessee.edu.edu Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine..................................................................................vetmed.wsu.edu
POISONOUS PLANT WEBSITES AND BOOKS: A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America; Anthony P. Knight, BVSc, MS......................available on Amazon Common Plants Poisonous to Horses and Livestock in Maryland, Univ of Maryland Extension 2014.....extension.umed.edu Dangerous Plants to Horses in Paddocks and Small Pastures, Univ of Florida, Fact Sheet 112513......................sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu Plants Poisonous to Livestock, Cornell University, extensive database, revised 3/16/21......poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu Poisonous Plants in Small Ruminants; Patty Scharko, DVM, MPH.......................................michvma.org/resources/Documents/ MVC/2018%20Proceedings/scharko_02.pdf https://www.michvma.org/resources/Documents/MVC/2018%20Proceedings/ scharko_02.pdf Poisonous Plants to Livestock, Meat Goat Notes, NC Cooperative Extension, revised 12/8/20.................content.ces.ncsu.edu Toxic Plants Recent Farm Animal Poisonings, Farm /Ranch Case Series #032710.........................................................s-eer.com 52 • Discover Llamas
T I ISLazy Llama Campground
WALNUT RIDGE LLAMA FARM • 50+ Silky/Suri Llamas
• LLAMA Store
• RV Camping
• Art at the Llama Farm Summer Camp
• Story Telling Llama Hikes
• Spooky Llama Trails and Tales
• Wagon Ride Farm Tours
• The Llama Lodge - airbnb
• A Quilt Trail Member
Jerry and Carolyn Ayers Chuckey, Tennessee 423-823-2100 n o i at m r fo lazyllamacampground.com n I e r Mo O TO r o G F walnutridgellamas.com
Ulin and Debbie Andrews Oakland, IL firstname.lastname@example.org 217-346-2372
ALCL Spats 2014 ALSA GRAND NATIONAL Grand Champion Non-Breeder