Llama Linda Ranch
Alpacas and Llamas
Linda Hayes   60 Meadow View Lane   Glenwood Springs, CO 81601    970.379.4576   hayestees@sopris.net

Articles Return to article index

Keeping llamas safe in the heat

By Linda Hayes
Items mentioned in Italics can be purchased from Llama Things! 800 552 6213

Summer heat can be a killer. Prevention is the key to a stress free season. Make sure your llama has plenty of fresh water, shade and a cool breeze. Shearing is a must, even for babies. Long wool llamas may need two shearings to survive as their wool can quickly grow to an inch or more.

A fan such as Sullivan’s Turbo will keep air moving and enhance the evaporation process that helps keep animals cool. Keeping the air damp will also add to cooling. This can be done with Arctic Misters which attach directly to any fan. Soaker hoses on the floor are a good method of cooling. Turn it on low so it just dribbles or use a timer so that it doesn’t make a muddy mess. What ever you use, don’t wet the llama on the heavily wooled area. The layer of wet hair will act as a blanket and create a steam bath effect. Try and wet the llama from the underside or keep them sheared and the wool short.

Llama

Speaking of shearing; that’s one of the kindest things you can do for your llama. Current prices range from $25 to $50 a head depending on the type of cut, mileage and number of head they will be doing. If you can’t get them professionally sheared, do it yourself. They will look rough the first few times but the wool will soon grow out and look much smoother.

Everyone should a pair of Sheep Hand Shears. Even if you own electric clippers there may be an emergency when you need to get the wool off and the clippers won’t work. (Llamas tend to go down a long ways from electrical outlets!) Of course you can always use house scissors but you will get plenty of blisters in the process… I speak from experience.

Feed electrolytes to make sure your llama drinks plenty of water and keeps the proper chemical balance in his body. These can be sprinkled directly on their food or set out in water. (Change it daily.) If you put it in water, also give access to plain water, as some llamas will refuse to drink the electrolytes. I start putting it on feed when the temperature goes above 90 degrees. Once it hits 100 I also put it out in water. The ones sold at Llama Things! Are salt based so they don’t draw flies and ants like the sugar based types. (Note: even though llama minerals have electrolytes in them, you still need to add extra in the south.)

You might want to consider giving some of your animal’s electrolytes in paste form. These are a great way of making sure your llama is really getting them. They come in a tube with 4 or 5 doses in each. The llamas like the taste so they don’t spit it out. I give it once or twice a day to any llama that looks stressed or is acting lethargic.

If you have a really wooly llama, wrap the tail in Vet Wrap. This lets the airflow around the back end. (Especially important in males.)

Even by taking precautions, your llama may stress. The first signs are that they become lethargic and just sit around. Take their temperature to make sure it’s not over 102 degrees. (105 and you have a major problem.) A digital thermometer is great because you don’t have to leave it in as long which avoids stressing them even more.

Llama

Cool the animal by running cold water over its rectum and underside. Our Polar Pack works for emergencies. Just submerge it in ice water for about 20 minutes and it will puff up with tiny crystals that hold lots of cold water. Lay it on areas of the llama where cooling is needed.

If your llama refuses to get up, you have a serious problem. Veterinarians who are not familiar with heat stressed llamas may not understand the seriousness of the problem. Don’t let them put you off. Call a llama vet or insist that your vet talk to one. Once down, llamas seem to lose their will to live. It’s important to get them back on their feet. I have had good luck using a sling and hoist such as those used to take engines out of cars. I’m not a vet so won’t give medical advice but I will tell you that a down llama needs major help.

You or your vet should keep a copy of the latest veterinarian book on treating llamas. Written by C. Norman Evans, D.V.M., Veterinary Llama Field Manual is a must for llama owners. It has all the latest dosages on treating all kinds of llama problems. The chapters on heat stress will tell your vet, step by step what do to.

Llama LindaLlamas can beat the heat. We just need to be responsible owners and make sure we have taken the proper steps to ensure a healthy summer for our animals and a worry free time for their owners.

Return to article index

Alpaca River Walk
Maintenance

Llama Linda Ranch