A member of the camel family, llamas are adjusted to the harsh conditions of the high Andes Mountains, wherein they subsist top top a wide selection of grasses and other plants. Yet here in the joined States, where the landscape and also vegetation is different, what perform llamas eat?

Photo by Michael Sheridan

Hay and Grain

Hay is typically a diet staple for llamas in the U.S., particularly in areas where foragable plant product is scarce or dies during the winter. Together is the case on Sheridan’s farm, whereby the pasture is hidden in numerous feet of eye each winter.

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“We just acquired our hay in about a mainly ago,” claimed Sheridan. “A bale of hay will certainly last a week v one llama. That’s type of my means of figuring it. I’m talking about tiny bales, the old fashioned type, weighs about 50 pounds.”

In enhancement to hay, a minimal amount of grains are frequently fed to llamas for energy and some nutrients, such together calcium and also phosphorus.

“Providing grain is just a mechanism of trying to far better complement the forage the they normally would consume and enabling the pets to accomplish their hereditary potential,” said Robert valve Saun, a veterinarian for PennState expansion who has actually done considerable research ~ above llamas in the U.S. And also in southern America.

“Llamas and alpacas under in south America, i beg your pardon is their aboriginal country, don’t get any kind of grains in ~ all, but it’s because they don’t have that capacity,” van Saun said. “As a result, what I’ve viewed in my research is their pets grow to a smaller size and don’t blee as properly as our animals.”

Van Saun has written multiple articles on llamas for PennState Extension, consisting of an short article in which he breaks down the nutritional ingredient of different grains and how the relates to the dietary requirements of llamas and their near relative, the alpaca. 

aren’t really good at managing starch,” valve Saun said. “So as soon as I talk about grain in numerous of my articles, I’m typically talking about wheat bran, wheat middlings and soybean hulls. I always emphasize the product need to not it is in high in starch.”

Even low-starch grain need to be fed to llamas sparingly, van Saun said. If overfed, llamas can come to be overweight, which deserve to lead to a range of health issues. 

Photo through Leanne M. Robichaeu


In the U.S., farmers frequently feed your llamas additional to consist of for any nutrient deficiencies. Regularly in the type of pellets, this supplements space usually commercial assets that may or might not be made especially for llamas. 

“I offer them a tiny supplement referred to as llama pellets,” Sheridan said. “They cost around the very same as a bag the oats. I like to perform a 1 to 4 proportion of llama pellets come oats. The pretty easy.”

Because llamas have adjusted to live in the Andes, few of their nutritional requirements aren’t constantly met through foraging in U.S. Pastures. Because that example, llamas in the U.S. Will periodically be deficient in vitamin D since in the Andes, lock had more exposure to strong sunlight, valve Suan explained. In addition, certain areas of the U.S. Are deficient in map minerals such as copper and also selenium. 

In addition, human being raise llamas for different reasons, and this may aspect into even if it is or no they carry out supplements. For example, some human being focus top top breeding and selling llamas, while others might raise them for the fiber they produce. Other human being simply have them as pets.

“It depends on her intent,” valve Saun said. “If you desire to be breeding and also raising babies, obviously these are different feeding scenarios then just what I’d define as the living, relocating lawn mower.”

Water and also Treats

On Sheridan’s farm, that organizes llama walks and other llama-themed events. He also shows his herd at neighborhood fairs. For this reason he’s used to world wanting to feeding his llamas, and it’s other he has to keep one eye on.

“Llamas are rather accepting of treats,” Sheridan said. 

Even once they shouldn’t be.

Some foods items are challenging for llamas to digest, if others space too an overwhelming for them come chew.

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Llamas don’t have actually top front teeth. Instead, they have long bottom teeth, and they have actually molars ~ above both top and bottom come grind vegetation. 

“They’re not collection up to eat apples and also carrots and also things that people give to horses for treats,” that said. “They deserve to choke ~ above things like apples.”

Nevertheless, llamas love fruit and vegetables. Therefore, part llama owners will cut up these treats into little pieces the their animals can consume safely. 

And lastly, llamas — prefer all pets — require water.

“They drink around a gallon a day,” Sheridan said. “Their water consumption isn’t very much. They’re members of the camel family, and also camels are recognized for being able to walk long ranges without drink — however they execute like water.”