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Ranch now an adoption center for llamas

Sopris Sun Staff Report

Local llama rancher Linda Hayes has opened her barn to rescued and surrendered llamas. The ranch, Llama Linda Ranch, is now an official adoption center for South West Llama Rescue (SWLR).

“With the poor economy, price of hay and aging llama owners, many are giving up their animals to new homes,” said Hayes

The past few years have seen an increase in the number of llamas abandoned or confiscated by humane officials. Add to that, the number of elderly owners who can no longer physically care for them and you have need for an adoption center.

Hayes has been raising llamas since 1989 and volunteered to take in llamas and alpacas in need of a home.

“It's heartbreaking” said Hayes. “Several of the llamas come from owners who have gone through major hardships such as foreclosures, being burned out by forest fires and debilitating injuries. They don't want to give up their pets but have no other option. To know these llamas will be loved and cared for means a lot to them.”

Other llamas come from people who think animals should be able to survive with no shelter and little feed. Some have been turned loose to try and survive on their own. “They can in the summer but once their water source freezes, their days are numbered. Now, owners can surrender their llamas instead of neglecting them or letting them starve.”

The South West Llama Rescue will allow these animals to be re-homed to carefully screened persons. The adoption fee is minimal but the new owner must agree not to breed the animal and that they always have a companion llama.

Llamas are very social and will not thrive if they live by themselves. The exception is llamas that are used to guard sheep or goats. They bond well with their charges and become very protective of them.

“People are always asking, ‘what do you do with a llama?’” said Hayes. “They have many uses. In the mountains they are popular as pack animals but they can also be used as therapy companions, 4-H projects, trained to pull a cart and there is a popular show circuit. Most however become pasture ornaments. Their serene quiet ways seem to have a calming effect on even the most agitated person. For this reason, many people just enjoy watching their antics in the pasture.”

Llama wool is also useful in craft projects, such as felting, weaving and spinning. Wool from older animals is used to make beautiful soft rugs and saddle blankets.

Llamas are safe with small children, hardly ever have health problems and are easy to own. They do need shelter from the hot sun or cold winds, hoof care, grooming or shearing, and annual vaccinations. They require fresh water and will eat a variety of native and pasture grasses. They can be kept in the same fencing as used for cattle or horses and will eat the same feed. “Five llamas will eat the same amount of food as one horse so they are comparatively cheaper to own,” Hayes said.

Llama Linda Ranch is located at the intersection of County Road 114 and 110 between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Hayes currently has 11 llamas, including four available for adoption and another three are due in soon.

For details, call Hayes at 379-4576 or