LIL'S GOLDEN DOOR
By Lillian Beck
Kent Rock Meadows
Many times people ask me what
do you feed a llama? Lately, I have been answering, not too much! So many of our
llamas are over weight,
and we are certainly not doing them any favor.
A llama will consume about
l%-2% of their body weight everyday. This can be a combination of quality feed,
field grass, and hay. So, a 100 lb.
llama will eat about 1-3 pounds , a 200 lb. llama 2-4 pounds, and a 300 lb. llama 3-6 lbs. About 25% of this daily food needs to be in roughage.
Protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats are essential too.
The protein level in a llama's
diet should only be about 6 to 10 percent. Actually, this percentage may be too
high, since llamas in their natural state
like to graze on grasses they find, and then you will see them browse on leaves off trees or bushes. This type of eating may provide them with a lower
protein content than what they now obtain from the diet that man provides for them. When we provide high quality llama feed and give hay that has a
high protein content, we are generally overfeeding the protein amount necessary for our animals. Your fields and the hay you are feeding them can be
analyzed to discover how high the protein level is.
The dietary needs of a llama
will change over a period of time and be different depending on many
circumstances. Their age and activity have to be taken
into consideration. Overfeeding an older animal can result in many problems. But remember to keep in mind with the older llama, while their calorie intake
should not be as high as a younger llama, their vitamin requirements may be slightly higher.
A female llama in her last
three months of pregnancy, a nursing dam, and younger growing cria can use a
higher protein content. But in general, we all do
tend to over feed our llamas. It doesn't take long for a well developed animal to begin to put on too much weight.
You will notice as your
animals eat, that some llamas will eat at different speeds, and this is where
part of the problem of the overweight llama begins.
Older females who are not bred or nursing will also put on weight. The normal breeding and nursing cycle helps to keep weight at a more normal level.
Several of our animals like to eat at a slow leisurely pace and chew forever and take their time swallowing. While they are doing this, others have eaten their
own food and then run over and help finish off the slow llamas food. These are the llamas who get heavy and fat. These are the llamas who need to go to a spa.
There is a place in California
called The Golden Door which caters to people who have eaten just
a little too much over the holidays or during the year,
or people who just want to improve their physical and mental well being. This wonderful place puts you on a diet based on your own special caloric needs,
plans an exercise program for you, reeducates you on how to plan a well balanced meal, and shows you how to live well with less food and be happy.
I too have a place I call Lil's
Golden Door. Guess who gets to go there? The llamas that I discover that
have found too much food on their plate and didn't
get enough exercise; the llamas who need to be shown how to live with less food and be happy.
" Why", asked a
lady, "Do you care if they get overweight?" well, this is why. Fat
female llamas seem to have more difficulty getting rebred. If they do get rebred
they tend to have more complications. If they get overheated and get heat exhaustion the llama will loose the cria in order to save herself . This is nature's way.
Also, a prolapsed uterus at delivery time is directly related to overweight llamas.
Too many people in the llama
industry try to politely and gently tell you your llama is fat. When a person is
told they have an over conditioned-llama it needs to
be explained to them what “over conditioned” means, or they may not understand you. I was told that about one of my male llamas at a show several years ago.
The problem was, I didn't understand what the person was saying. I was told my llama was over conditioned. I thought this was swell and was very proud of the fact
I had an over conditioned male. Honestly, I thought I was dragging around Arnold Schwarzenegger. I related over conditioning to when I was going to a Nautilus Gym,
and the trainer used to tell some of the guys there -- “You are pumping too much iron and getting over conditioned”.
Come on now everybody, if you see a fat llama ---
it is FAT............. NOT OVER CONDITIONED.
This spring, when we were clipping our llamas, I found one of our FAT llamas.
I had suspected that she was,
and I was just waiting for the right time to swing open The Golden Door.
It was no surprise that she was fat, because when we fed the
females she would do what I call (rolling). Which is, starting with her feed pan and just moving or rolling down the row of other llama feed pans and eating everyone
else's food. I estimate she was probably eating about three pounds of feed a day. Boy, did she look like she had eaten that much after we clipped her. You couldn't
feel her back bone, she had fat upper thighs, and you could feel the fat on her chest was soft and loose. This is called the Jello effect. If you touch your llamas
chest and it feels loose like Jello, your llama is overweight.
She was clipped and promptly
put into Lil's Golden Door program. She was put into a separate
area with a couple of friends where we could monitor her diet.
Since she could see the other girls eat, I gave her a very small dusting of grain in her pan, just so she didn't feel like she was being discriminated against. She then
was put out in a field where she could run and exercise more and also had to run up a hill to get to some of her grass. In two months she has lost about l2 lbs.
but still more needs to go. But you can tell she feels better and now she runs places instead of waddling around like a duck.
Today I was talking to another
one of my females, and I told her this afternoon you get to go into Lil's
Golden Door tomorrow. She has been telling all her
friends she is going into a new building. She is all excited and keeps hanging around the door and can't wait to get in this room. She thinks she is very special and keeps hanging around.
Little does she know!