Do I or Do I not Shear? Shearing Llamas

By all means — be humane and shear! The South, with the high humidity and unreasonably hot temperatures, is far from being the llamas’ natural habitat. These conditions compromise their well being, so we must do the responsible thing and shear them. Our llamas look to us for proper care and maintenance.

Llamas with silky wool that lays close to the body seem to be hotter than those with a fluffy fleece. Do not forget the light wool llamas – their fiber is dense and the skin needs to breathe. Sheared llamas do very well in a show ring. It makes the job a lot easier for a judge to evaluate the llama, besides, sheared llamas are beautiful! They have gorgeous bodies.

How Much Wool Do I Take Off?

There are a variety of styles to choose from or you may get creative on your own. We will address two of the styles in this article. Barrel Cut: This style has the least fiber removed from the body. This is a good cut for young llamas not old enough to breed. Modified Lion Cut: This is the cut I prefer. It is great for breeding males because it allows air to circulate around the testicles as well as opening the midsection to cool the body, as on the barrel cut. The Lion Cut helps prevent premature births and allows the ladies to be more comfortable caring for their babies and in giving birth. Cria’s also find it much easier to nurse their moms.

Before you shear, it is best to shampoo the llama and let the wool dry completely , then blow and brush the fleece to get the dirt and vegetable matter out of it. The dirt dulls the blades of both the scissors and shears. Clean fiber is ideal, but we don’t always have the time to do it properly. Try to keep a good long length to the fiber when you take it off. Do not snip little pieces until you reach the desired length. The long fiber will be much easier to have spun into yarn and made into something special.

Devices Used for Shearing (Tools)

Hand Shears: They are fast, but harder for a woman to hold. You need a lot of practice to do a good job.

Scissors: These are easy to use and fit well in a small hand. The llamas seem to tolerate the scissors quite well. The hand shears or scissors give a bit of a scalloped effect that grows out looking very nice. The difference between a good haircut and a great haircut is about six weeks growth. It takes about 30 minutes to give a llama a haircut with scissors. Leave about ½ to 1 inch of wool on the body.

Electric Shears: They are wonderful but can be quite heavy. When using electric shears, you will shear to the skin, leaving about ¼ inch on the body. The finished job is even and smooth, but keep in mind, they shear very close. So if you do not have shade and fans where the llamas can relax during the sunny hours, they could get sunburned.


Sweep the floor where you will be working and let the llama stand on a sheet to catch the wool as it falls from the body during cutting. It is always best to put the llama into a chute for the safety of the llama as well as yourself. Place the cut fleece into a paper bag, not a plastic bag. Now you are ready to shear.

Basically, the technique and steps are the same for the hand and electric shears and for the scissors. With a brush, make a pattern in the wool that will help guide you as you cut. Always start at the top line on the back and make your cut down the center of the back, keeping inside your outline. You can cut more off as you go, but you cannot put it back on. Cut forward, stopping about 6 to 8 inches from the neck. Now cut back to about 10 inches from the tail. Now we angle the point on the scissors or shears down and slightly away from the body so as not to jab the points into the llama, in the event the llama should move. Use your fingers under the handle of the scissors as a guide not to cut too close. With the scissors, cut the wool in a parallel line to the top line, across the body, stopping at the desired mark and keep repeating until you have cut the entire side and half of the belly. Now you can trim the scallops by lifting the wool that remains on the body with your fingers and cut off the high points. When you are somewhat satisfied, smooth the freshly sheared body with a soft brush.

Angle the electric shears down the body when doing the sides and then shear crosswise to smooth out. The top line is done the same as with scissors, only with shears.

Shearing is important. It could mean life or death for your llama! Make them happy & keep them healthy, show them you love them by doing the right thing, shear the llama!! (Information reproduced from Tracy Pearson of Pearson Pond)



At , Walnut Ridge Llama Farm we use the following medications, but consult your veterinarian.

  • Ivomec injectable or Dectomax injectable
  • Safeguard or Panacure, oral (paste or liquid)
  • Valbazen, oral, not to breeding llamas
  • Corid or Albon, for Coccidia
  • Quest paste for horses is excellent
  • Cydectin
  • Marquise paste for emac – not a dewormer, emac is not a parasite


  • Ophthalmic eye ointment for human or animal
  • Ophthalmic rinse – Natural Tears
  • KY Jelly for thermometer insertion, enema insertion, to lube Mom if there is a dystocia for easy removal of baby (olive oil can also be used)
  • Lotrimin etc, for treatment of fungus
  • Antibiotic ointment


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol for sterilization
  • 7% iodine for umbilical cord/navel on newborns
  • Betadine scrub for washing wounds and hands
  • Coppertox or blood stop for bleeding when cutting toenails
  • Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol
  • Mineral Oil
  • Activated charcoal, powder form, for treatment of poisoning
  • Enemas, baby enemas to help cria pass meconium. Adult enemas for constipated or sick animals.
  • Nolvasan antiseptic/disinfectant


  • LA-200 or Bio-Mycin
  • Naxcel (titricycaline)
  • Banamine, for pain and temperature
  • Ketofin, lasts 24 hours for pain and temperature
  • SMZ-TMP, for infection, neo-natal diarrhea
  • Polyflex (ampicillin for injectable suspension, veterinary)
  • Penicillin G
  • Gastro Guard paste
  • Nuflor


  1. Thermometer, needed for newborns, heat stress, hypothermia, shock or infection, etc. One of the first questions a vet asks is “What is the temperature?” Normal ranges — Adult: 99°-102° and Baby: 100°-102°, depending on time of year and temperature.
  2. Oxygen with human nose clip/clamp
  3. Syringes: 3cc/12cc/60cc – – for giving injections medicating orally, flushing wounds
  4. Needles: 20 gauge x 1” or 20 gauge x 1/2″ for sub-Q. Keep on hand a Biohazard container for used needles. Give to vet when full.
  5. Shoulder length OB gloves and disposable gloves
  6. Bandage scissors (blunt nose scissors)
  7. Mouth speculum: Adult: small PVC pipe (about the size of the casing on a 60cc syringe), 6” – 8” long, covered (for padding) with vet wrap. Cria: small PVC pipe (about the size of the casing on a 20cc syringe), 4” long, covered (for padding) with vet wrap. *Note: you can use the actual syringe casings with the end cut off.
  8. Suture material and needle
  9. Film container (7% Iodine for cria’s navel)
  10. Tweezers
  11. Stomach tube made from red rubber 18/20 French
  12. Vet wrap
  13. 2” adhesive tape
  14. 2” elastic bandage wrap
  15. Large coated (slick) square gauze pads
  16. Gauze wrap
  17. Shoe lace
  18. Lead and halter
  19. Duct tape and PVC pipe cut in half for splint for an injured leg
  20. 2 bottles of pedialyte, an electrolyte liquid for cria’s or adults.

(Content reproduced from Tracy Pearson of Pearson Pond)


 Know your llamas behavior patterns well – – further examination by vet is in order.) Remember, it is better to overreact and be embarrassed by calling a vet unnecessarily than letting a problem develop too far. Gather as much information as possible to inform the vet of problems before you call because some situations need immediate attention, while others can wait a bit. the more information made available to the vet on the first call, the easier it will be to assess the situation and there could be things you could be doing until the vet gets there. Always try to be calm and reasonable to your llama — this is very important!


  1. Noticeable differences in behavior, coordination, weight loss, reluctance to rise, lethargy or dullness.
  2. Refuses food – – with this watch water intake, dehydration could result. Confine separately in order to monitor and record amounts of food and water intake. If needed, mark the water bucket and measure the food.
  3. Raspy (noisy) and/or labored breathing could be due to heat or it could be pneumonia. Assuming pneumonia, immediate attention from your vet is required.
  4. Elevated temperature, always take the temperature rectally before calling the vet. A digital thermometer is best. Normal temperature ranges from 99 to 102 degrees, depending on the ambient or outside temperature and the time of year.
  5. Elevated temperature, always take the temperature rectally before calling the vet. A digital thermometer is best. Normal temperature ranges from 99 to 102 degrees, depending on the ambient or outside temperature and the time of year.
  6. Diarrhea – – confine separately so this can be monitored and watch the water intake so the llama does not get dehydrated.
  7. Colic – – pain in the belly. The llama will have a slightly arched-up back and will be unable to find a comfortable position and will be getting up and down slowly, groaning, grinding of teeth, kicking and looking at belly. You need the attention of a vet if any of these symptoms persist for more than an hour. If this is a dystocia, failure to deal with it can result in exhaustion of the dam or even death of dam and/or cria.
  8. Excessive discharge from eyes – – tell vet the color of the discharge. gentle flushing with clean water to cleanse area.
  9. Seizure or convulsion, call vet immediately.
  10. Bleeding, laceration, puncture, abrasion. Can be tended too until the vet arrives, if stitches are needed, keep injured area moist.
  11. Broken limb, inability to stand with any weight on that limb, call vet immediately.
  12. Swollen face, possible snake bite, immediate attention by a vet is needed. Keep llama calm, watch breathing, if nose is closing, insert small rubber tube and tape in place without obstructing the nostrils.
  13. Coughing or drooling, could indicate choking on feed – – must have attention AT ONCE. Massage at the base of the neck by collarbone and allow llama to lower head and vomit repeatedly until vet checks the animal out. No feed for 2 days, only feed hay.
  14. Inability to rise, needs attention from vet. To move a downed llama to shelter, out of the sun or bad weather, you can transport them with a large tarp or board. Get them where they can be more comfortable.
  15. Heat Stress. Watch for increased breathing and heart rate; open mouth breathing and salivation; uncoordinated; high temperature. Take temperature of llama before cooling down and wait for one hour after cool down and take it again to see if you need to keep repeating water cool down. Wetting the wool on the back and sides of the llama will not help, if they have not been sheared. Hose the underbelly and rectum area with cold water for at least 15 to 20 minutes each session. Call the vet – – this could go into nerve damage or pneumonia. Shear those llamas! When warm weather starts – – provide shelter (shade), lots of fans and lots of cold clean water to drink. Maybe a sprinkler or two to play in or very large kiddie pools.
  16. Poison, do not try to make your llama vomit and don’t give water, call the vet immediately!
  17. Hypothermia, this can be most dangerous – – uncoordinated and skin and feet feel cold to the touch. Breathing slows, provide shelter and call the vet. Start warming the llama!
  18. Swollen jaw is usually an abscess tooth. This looks like a cheek full of cud from the outside. Round, tender, puss filled raised area of skin, needs to be lanced when it is soft and flushed with saline and antibiotic daily.

(Information reproduced from Tracy Pearson of Pearson Pond)




Gestation 330 – 350 days is normal–research has shown a bit longer in the spring. 30 – 45 days is fine for a rectal ultrasound, 90 days for an abdominal ultrasound on left side.
You will find on this page information on signs of pending birth, what to do once the baby is here, and needed items for a Neonatal Kit.


  1. Relaxed or puffed out vulva
  2. Laying on side with legs out to the side
  3. Rolling or flopping (kush–flop to side–kush)
  4. Humming or groaning a lot or more than usual
  5. Lack of interest in food
  6. Check temperature, below normal is a sign
  7. Remaining in a squat position for long periods with no result. You may want to have vet assist or if you feel comfortable, go in, she may need assistance and it may not be much. Baby may be in birth canal so you should not delay too long!
  8. Water break–sudden splash of water, even as little as a cup


  • Iodine the navel with 7% iodine in film canister by dunking the umbilical cord into canister and shaking it against the body of the cria. Do not pour into navel!
  • Hang the baby over your shoulders with the rear legs of the cria going down your back and the body of the cria laying down your chest. Support the baby well and firmly (not too hard), thump a few times on the rib area of cria with head and neck hanging towards the ground to expel any fluid inhaled during birth.
  • If there is a problem in breathing for the cria, you might try oxygen. This is one of the most important items in our barn, I have found. A simple nose clip/clamp (designed for humans) works well for crias and adults. You can use the tube as a loop and run it behind the head under the ears and secure it. Turn the dial on the tank to 2 1/2 to 3, but no higher, for about 15 minutes. You can proceed in towel drying as the cria takes in the oxygen.
  • Dry the baby with towels and hair dryer to warm and stimulate the baby. Make sure the cria is totally dry and not damp. A warm baby will get up and nurse–a cold baby will not get up from the warm straw as frequently. Keep taking the temperature for the first 24 hours.
  • Take the temperature! Do this two or three times the first 24 hours. If less than 100 degrees, warm the body until it reaches 100-101 degrees and stabilizes.
  • Evaluate in the first two hours and determine if you have a strong healthy cria or if you have a very weak cria. Most of the time, just a couple or three feedings by a tube or bottle, 3 ounces of warm Pedialyte, before the baby ingests colstrum, will give the baby enough energy to get up and suckle on Mom quickly. The bottle helps stimulate the suckle reflex and the Pedialyte gives the electrolytes needed for energy. Again, always watch the babies temperature. Do not feed a very weak baby colostrum until the temperature has been stabilized at 100-101 degrees. Warm Pedialyte will help with this. If colostrom must be given by you, only feed three or four ounces every three or four hours. Do not mix or feed the colostrum and Pedialyte at the same time. A baby’s system cannot handle larger quantities of rich colostrum in a single feeding. Frequent feeding in small amounts of three ounces will allow the baby’s system to absorb the nourishment without overloading the system and enhance the baby’s ability to start suckling on its Mom on its own. After each hand feeding, put the cria under Mom to bond and teach where the main supply is really coming from. Time and effort in the beginning will be less time spent in the long run. Between each feeding, hot compresses applied to the dam’s teats will be comforting and will stimulate blood flow to make more milk and hence make it easier to milk the dam until the baby is on its own.
  • Heart rate 60 – 100 beats per minute and respiratory rate 10 – 30 breaths per minutes.
  • A cria should double their birthrate in 1 month. Weigh the cria when dry and weigh each day to establish weight gain. You should see a half to one pound gain per day. This may fluctuate a bit, but over a 5-day period, it should tell the story.
  • Watch to make sure the baby urinates well.
  • The baby should pass the meconium within the first 12 hours. If you do not see this happen or cannot find it, a warmed baby mineral oil Fleet Enema could be used.
  • Put a cria coat on the newborn if it is chilly and most always at night. Remember, a warm baby gets up to suckle. Now get some sleep yourself!
  • Have the vet pull blood from the cria 24-36 hours after birth to test if the baby has had its passive transfer. If too low, the baby needs plasma. This will supplement the immune system until the baby can make its own, somewhere between 50 and 100 days old. They need a good start to grow and thrive.
  • Vaccinate with CD&T vaccine (3 way) at two to three months of age (3 cc) Follow up 30 days later the 3 cc CD&T again. At Pearson Pond Ranch, we also do a third vaccination 30 days after the second dose of CD&T with 3cc of Covexin 8 to total three separate shots over a three month period of time.


This is a list of suggested supplies to keep together so that you will be prepared for any situation that might arise when one of your llamas is giving birth. I find it helpful to keep these items together so that if there is a rush in helping one of my Moms, I don’t have to run around looking for and collecting them individually.

  1. Red tube with catheter tip (60 cc syringe)
  2. Long plastic or rubber gloves (Can order through Jeffers catalog)
  3. Latex gloves (needs to be short and tight) from Jeffers catalog
  4. KY jelly (Jeffers catalog)
  5. 7 % Iodine in 35 mm film canister
  6. “White” shoe lace (clean)
  7. Fleet Enema (save one empty for re-use)
  8. Mineral oil
  9. Pedialite (no taste) seems to be accepted by cria
  10. Cria coat
  11. Vetrap elastic bandage
  12. Digital thermometer
  13. Baby bottle (Evenflo is great)–make hole in nipple a little bigger and get extra nipples
  14. Towels
  15. Hair dryer
  16. Notes, reference articles, and telephone numbers in box
  17. Oxygen with nose insert (works well and never dial over 3)
  18. Oxytocin (keep refrigerated)–get through veterinarian. This is to help drop mother’s milk if she is slow in coming into her milk. Do not give over 1 cc, one time!!! This helps release the placenta so she will cramp a little bit.

(Content reproduced from Tracy Pearson of Pearson Pond)