Llamas are a domesticated animals that are raised for their wool and sometimes for their milk and meat. They originated in South America and are closely related to the alpaca, guanaco and vicuña (these species are also found in South America). Llamas are now raised in many countries outside their traditional range. The llama has multiple compartments in their stomach and the food must pass through all of these compartments. The first of these compartments is where the food is fermented for further processing. The second and third compartments are where the nutrients are extracted from the food. Let’s take a look at the common diet of the llama.
What do llamas eat?
Llamas are exclusively herbivores (plant eaters) and are happy to eat a variety of grasses, weeds, legumes, leaves and other small plants. Llamas are mostly grazers (feeding on low vegetation), but can also be browsers (feed on higher growing vegetation). Llamas can happily survive exclusively on pasture grass and hay (hay is usually only given to the animals during winter). For good nutrition it is recommended that the grass or hay mixture should contain approximately 12-15% protein. Many llama farmers will add grains or specially formulated pellets to ensure that the nutritional requirements of the animals are met. Added nutrients are required for young llamas because of their underdeveloped digestive tract. Some farmers add alfalfa to the diet, but this can interfere with the balance of calcium and potassium. An adult llama will consume about 22-26 kg (10-12 lbs) of food each day.
Did you know?
Some houseplants are poisonous to llamas and it is important to prevent llamas from access to these. Your local veterinarian will be able to advise you which plants should never be kept near llamas.