Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

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Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

Post  CateM on Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:58 pm

Hello,
On Saturday 26th March we are taking on a pair of llamas from someone who is no longer able to keep them. They are currently with their four youngish offspring, who are going to other homes. They are moving to our rough pasture which has trees for shelter and will soon have a proper built shelter too. We have some ordinary sheep/cattle fencing up and have added electric fencing inside this.
We are concerned that the move and the splitting up of the family will be stressful and that the llamas might try to get home (30 miles away...). Also, the llamas have not been handled for some time due to the ill health of the current owner. We would be very grateful for any advice from experienced owners. Should we find an oubuilding to keep the llamas shut in for a time until they get used to their new home? Are there any well-tried methods of gradually getting llamas to the stage where they are happy to be handled again?
We are keen to make a success of this endeavour and give the llamas a loving home.
We have not joined the BLS yet but intend to as soon as the llamas are here.
Thank you in anticipation of your help,
Cate Murray

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Re: Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

Post  mlonghurst on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:01 pm

Hi Cate,

I do not think that you will need to worry to much about the llamas trying to get back to their family. In my experience, if there is good grazing and fresh water around they will have forgotten their family within a couple of hours of arriving. In this weather I would let the llamas enjoy themselves outside but with direct access to shelter if they want it. If you want to start gaining their trust then stand at the entrance to their field with a bowl of carrots, sliced apples etc or some hard feed and see if they will take any. Do this daily and they will start to see you as a provider of nice things. After a while, switch to standing inside the fence line and offer them treats, if all goes well then offer them a treat from your hand (each time bring your hand slightly closer to your body). When you feel the time is right, slowly reach out and gently place the back of your hand against the neck of the llama, repeat this each time the llama comes to you and before long you will find that you can touch the llama quite easily. I have been doing this with a big strong llama that was "wild" when he came here a few months ago, he would run a mile as soon as I looked at him, never mind try and touch him. Now after several weeks he comes straight up to me each morning and eats from a bowl whilst I stroke up and down his neck, once the llamas I am currently training leave here in 2 weeks time, he will start to undergo full time training for trekking.

It is very important to be patient and do not try and rush things, they will most likely be a little nervous at first, but should start to settle down quite quickly.

Hope this helps.

Kind Regards, Mike L

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Thanks Mike

Post  Cate M on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:17 pm

Dear Mike,
Thank you so much for your helpful and positive reply. I'm all for being gentle and patient.
I hope that all goes smoothly on Saturday and we manage to get the llamas in and out of the cattle float without too much difficulty!
Best wishes,
Cate

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Re: Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

Post  mlonghurst on Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:09 am

Good luck and please come back and let everyone know how the move went.

Kind Regards, Mike L

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Moved in

Post  Cate M on Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:17 pm

Hello Mike,
The move this morning went surprisingly well; the pair of llamas travelled in a cattle float, allowed me to put collars on while kushed in the float and calmly entered their new field. They were obviously curious about their new surroundings and quite alert but not visibly nervous or upset. The doe ate from my hand and some humming went on before bedtime. I know I have a lot of work to do but I'm very pleased with this good start.
I shall now send in my membership application!
Thanks again for all your help.
Cate

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Re: Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

Post  mlonghurst on Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:48 am

I am so pleased. Enjoy your life with your new llamas. Spend as much time as you can watching them and you will find you learn so much about their individual personalities and behaviour.

Kind Regards, Mike L

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Update

Post  Caroline on Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:53 pm

Hello Cate,

How things now, a few months later?

Caroline
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Settled in

Post  CateM on Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:42 pm

In reply to your question, Caroline:
More than a year on, the llamas are settled in well and happy to be in close proximity and to be touched a little, but only with me, since I am the one who takes an interest! I can shut them in their shed without complaint but have not yet got halters on them. I have a four month old female cria who is handling well and has a halter on briefly from time to time - I'm working at my own slow pace, but will get there in the end. I hope I can come to a handling/training day one of these days. This afteroon the sire was castrated as I can't keep more than four llamas (pretty sure there's another on the way). There are too many unwanted llamas about, it seems. Have had to put in six foot fencing and more electric fencing as they ransacked the garden in the winter, but hopefully they are now safely contained.
Thanks for asking! Hope you and your llamas are well.
Cate
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Re: Settling in new llamas who haven't been handled for some time

Post  Caroline on Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:44 pm

Hello Cate,

Regarding haltering, I would do the following:

1. Have a halter dangling from your arm whilst giving a llama a treat. Repeat daily until no notice is taken of the halter.
2. Put a treat on your hand and have the noseband of the halter on your hand too, so the llamas has to put its nose inside the circle of the noseband in order to take a treat. Repeat lots and lots until the halter is ignored.
3. Treat on hand, noseband of halter just an inch above your hand, still held horizontally, so the llama has to put its nose a little bit through the noseband in order to get the treat. It helps to have a rigid noseband for this, but it doesn't even have to be a halter. It can be a dog collar, for instance. It needs to be big enough not to touch the nose at this stage and at times I have used the other end of the halter, where there is a loop made by the crown piece having been fastened.
4. Treat on hand, halter noseband held vertically this time, in front of the hand with the treat. Now the llama's nose may well touch a part of the nose band as it takes the treat.
5. At this stage I make the llama do things for itself and no treats are visible to begin with. I stand by the llama's shoulder, facing the same way as the llama, holding the noseband with both my hands out in front of me and slightly to one side (the llama's side). When the llama puts its nose through the noseband (or even near to it to start with), I reward it with a treat. I find this stage great because you are getting the llama to take an active part in what is happening. Two of my llamas will do this and then walk forward, effectively haltering themselves except that I haven't found a way to do the strap up!
6. When the llama is quite happy about putting its nose into a noseband and then receiving a treat, I use my right hand (assuming I am standing on the llama's left side, facing the same way that it is) to gently flip the strap of the crown piece over the top of the llama's head. If this movement caused alarm, I'd just move the crown piece gently a bit as an extra stage before flipping it over the head.
7. When that is accepted, I'd do the same, but finish by reaching up and pretending to buckle/clip the halter.
8. Same again but really fasten it. I wouldn't do this stage until the previous one is accepted calmly. The last thing you need is a fight for the llama to stand still - you'd have to start a few stages back if that happened.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on. Oh, and I'm sure you already know.... make sure to lift the noseband as you take the halter off so that you don't drag it down the llama's nose. Llama's have to breathe through their noses (not mouths) and they panic when something presses on the soft part of their nose.

One last thing - I always say, "All done" when I am taking a halter off. A lot of times when my geldings were younger, they would fuss and move around but then freeze when I said, "All done" because they quickly learnt that those words meant the halter was coming off and they were about to be free; it was to their advantage to stand still. Another benefit is that the llama knows that the halter comes off when the words are said and not accidentally as a result of fussing and moving around!
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