Although they can look dashing in a blanket, most llamas do not need to wear one. Llama wool is naturally very insulating, and a blanket tends to compress their wool, which reduces its insulating properties. Shelter from the wind and snow, good bedding, and good hay are most important in cold weather for keeping llamas warm. Eating forages generates heat through the digestion of long fibers of hay. Feeding free choice hay during extremely cold weather will help your llamas stay warm. (Alfalfa is good for older llamas or crias.)
It's been unbelievably beautiful this fall here in Colorado, but cold weather is coming. Here's some tips for helping your llamas stay warm this winter.
A three-sided shed with good bedding makes a great llama shelter. Most llamas don't like to be closed inside a barn; they like to be able to have an escape route. Some llamas, especially males, won't use a shed at all, except maybe in extreme weather. Straw makes very warm bedding, but the llamas, ungrateful kids that they are, will poop in their cozy shed, and straw is harder to clean than shavings. Heated water buckets are great, and don't use much electricity.
Feeding extra hay during cold weather helps llamas generate heat through digestive activity. It's tempting to want to feed grain or pellets to help them keep warm, but the less you feed a llama out of a bag, the better. Good hay and a mineral supplement tailored to your area is the best feeding plan, in our experience. (unless your llama is old, very young, nursing, or has other reasons for supplementing feed.)
Happy Birthday, Rocky Mountain Mercury! (yes, he looks a lot like his full brother, Jupiter)
Does your llama (and your barn floor) look like this after you brush her? Congratulations, you might have a Classic Llama! All that undercoat that came out is super soft, and will make a splendid yarn. Classic llamas rock because their coats keep them warm in the winter, cool in the summer. No shearing required, just a good brushing in the spring, and several more throughout the summer, and whenever you feel like it. Classic llamas shed some wool, but they need help from us to get the "old" undercoat out. What do they do in the wild? some people ask. (Soapbox warning!) THERE ARE NO WILD LLAMAS. They have been domesticated for thousands of years. They are what we have made them. And their wool needs to be either shorn off or brushed out. It's not healthy or "natural" to let the wool grow unchecked.
That's the same llama, looking perfectly Regal on the left, and looking perfectly Goofy on the right, after a good spitting match. Spit apparently tastes yucky to llamas, since they have to air out their mouths after they're done.