The Watertown Llama Chute
Llamas are gentle creatures, prey animals rather than predators, and can be quite fearful , particularly when cornered or restrained , so in general they respond better to the carrot than the stick. Many llamas can be taught to calmly accept human intervention , and will actively enjoy interacting with us , which makes light work of basic husbandry chores such as grooming, haltering, and toe-nail trimming. There are some procedures however that will never be easy for the llama or his handler to cope with , such as taking a blood sample from the llamas neck, dealing with dental problems, or leg injuries. Even the gentlest llama can cause injury to himself or to his handler if he is really worried or in pain, and under these circumstances some adequate handling facilities are a very sensible idea.
Here at Watertown Llamas we devised a llama chute which is adaptable to suit many different procedures and it enables us to carry out some of the more challenging tasks with minimum risk of injury to ourselves and to the llamas.
We are now able to offer these chutes for sale, and because they are hand-made here in Devon they can be customised to suit specific customer requirements. The model that I have myself can be used in various different ways:
For tasks that require the llama to keep still for a reasonable period of time I use the yoke bars towards the front of the chute, which close on the llamas neck and prevent forward movements, and the four straps on the front frame clip onto his halter to stop him from backing up. These straps are easily tightened, although they dont need to be excessively taught which would tend to induce greater resistance.
This arrangement is ideal for taking bloods for testing as there is excellent access to the llamas neck where the vein is, and we have found it perfect for the ministry vets to use as all our imported llamas have to be sampled on arrival here. It is also ideal for oral drenching as the llamas head is elevated , and there is no need to hold or touch the llamas muzzle which many do object to. If we need to perform an ultra-sound using valuable equipment the vet is much happier to do so because the llama is not in danger of damaging it when she is secured in this way. The chute also has the added safeguard of a withers strap that passes over the llama to prevent him or her from rearing up, and two belly straps that can be deployed beneath the llama to prevent kushing. The location and distances between these straps is easily adjusted according to the length of the llama, and just like the halter straps they are easily tightened but can be quickly released in an emergency. Toe nail trimming, injecting, vaccinating, micro-chipping, and shearing are all made easier using the chute, and of course topical treatments for mites, dressing wounds, taking temperatures, checking ears or eyes and pretty much any potentially tricky procedure can be much more safely undertaken.
For basic routine injections with llamas who are fairly relaxed about such procedures the yoke bars and halter straps are not always needed, so the other mode is to use the chute with a pair of gates instead. This is a quicker simpler method and does not require the llama to be haltered.
The gates are easily lifted on and off, and can also be hung on the left or the right. If the gates are to be used in place of the yoke then the yoke bars can be unclipped at the base and set to the sides out of the way or they can be removed completely. I tend to position my chute next to a holding pen so that the llama can be herded in to the chute with the back gate open and the front gate closed, and then shut the rear gate behind him, inject him, and then release him forward by opening the front gate. The gated chute is ideal when the llama just needs containment for simple procedures that dont intimidate him too much, such as worming injections or vaccinations, and it just ensures that he cant evade you as he might in a larger pen. The other ideal use for the gated chute is for weighing your llamas using platform scales which fit neatly inside the chute. Once again the llama is led or herded in to the chute via the rear gateway, weighed and then released out of the front gate.
The llama chute comes with removable side rails in order to faciltate shearing .
Galvanising the chute means that it can live outside, ideally in an area where the llamas are so that they can become accustomed to it, and the floor is aluminium treadplate . If it is to be permanently positioned then if required the base of the frame can be pre-drilled to faciltate bolting it in place.
The young llama in the video is being introduced to the chute in familiar surroundings and soon gains confidence which will help him when we come to use it for veterinary or husbandry procedures in the future. Hay nets can be hung from the chute frame to encourage familiarity with it when its not in use, and of course llamas can even be fed or rewarded when inside it.
The Llama Chute Options Available
Option 1 Galvanised Llama Chute with yoke restraint,all the straps, removable side rails but no gates £925 plus vat = £1110
Option 2 Galvanised Llama Chute with yoke restraint,all the straps, removable side rails and gates £1000 plus vat = £1200
Option 3 Galvanised Alpaca Chute with yoke and straps , plus removable lower side panels , £875 plus vat = £1050
Option 4 Galvanised Alpaca Chute , with yoke, straps, removable side panels plus removable gates , £950 plus vat = £1140
Delivery by national carrier with tail-lift to most mainland England and Wales post codes £82.50 plus vat = £99 . Quote for delivery to other post codes on request .
(But only as close as he can get with his lorry! Then it's all yours!)
Llama Chute 675 w x 190 h x 244 l
Weight around 125 kilos
Alpaca Chute 675w x 1700 h x 1830 l
Weight around 100kgs
These dimensions can be adapted slightly if for example you need a slightly reduced height in order to be able to transport the chute in a trailer with limited headroom.
The two llamas in this video are both using the chute for the first time. The brown llama, Ettie, needed an internal exam and an injection , but remained calm throughout . After the procedures there is an option to unload the llama from the chute either by reversing her out as we did with Ettie, or of fully opening the yoke bars to make a wide "V" , or setting them both to one side and leading the llama out of the front , as demonstrated by Limon in the earlier video. Depending upon your preferred method , the distance set between the bars at the base is adjustable , so set them close together if you want to lean both to one side to make the exit route forward , or further apart if you want to lead the llama out through the "V" . Its also easy to release one or both of the bars at the base completely and set them to each side to make the exit forwards completely unrestricted. The second llama , Cinzano, was newly imported from Europe just days before , so the ministry vet was collecting a blood sample from his neck for routine testing . Taking blood from a camelid is not easy but having the chute minimised the risk of injury and stress to both the llama and the vet , allowing him to get the job done as efficiently as possible. You can see that we left lots of slack in the noseband so that I could also check his mouth for fighting teeth.
This video , shot in real time, shows two methods of loading and unloading the llama when using the neck bars and halter straps. First time around the handler leads the llama through the chute by also walking through it first , and then unloads the llama by walking back through the neck bars and reversing the llama out of the chute. It is also possible to lead the llama in by walking alongside the chute rather than through it , as shown on the second demonstration , and this time the llama is released forwards to unload by lifting one of the bars up and out to one side , rather than by asking the llama to reverse out.
We recently supplied a Llama Chute to Les and Chris , way up in Argyll , who`s llamas were in need of shearing at the start of the summer , and this is the lovely feedback we received from Les and his llamas !
"We now have four cool llamas, two very relieved owners and a big pile of llama fibre! The chute worked like a dream – the best thing we have ever bought ( apart from the llamas ) even the gelding who can be tricky to handle stood quietly with very little restraint. The removable bars were a godsend making shearing so much easier. What a brilliant design, we can`t thank you enough and have no hesitation in recommending your chute to any other llama owners".