BOOK | 01423 711052
BOOK | 01423 711052
BOOK | 01423 711052

Our Animal Welfare

Welfare is our No 1 priority……………

Suzanne, owner of Nidderdale Llamas, is very proud to hold Welfare License No LN/199317810, awarded by Harrogate Borough Council, under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England Regulations 2018).  This licence isn’t just a piece of paper but an ongoing exercise which covers many elements of managing and running our herd and farm. The licence is reviewed every 3 years by the council, but for the team on the farm it’s a daily practice of ensuring the animals welfare is put first.

Team Commitment:

Our team are committed to animal welfare, and we would like to reassure you that all our llamas and alpacas are cared for to a very high standard and their wellbeing is first and foremost above any other element.  We have a large herd of over 90 llamas and alpacas and each one is treated as an individual not just a number within a herd. Every single llama and alpaca are known as a family member, like household pets! The team know every animal’s individual character, along with their likes and dislikes, how each one presents themselves daily, in body language and mental health.  This is vital for managing their day-to-day care, just like a family pet.  We can identify exactly when an animal is not themselves, presenting potential health concerns which may lead to extra attention or medical care.

Suzanne has a passion for her animals and will only employ team members who put animals above their own wellbeing, with the same ethical approach to welfare in order to ensure the animals are properly attended to. Working on a farm and being part of our team, may look very rosy from the outside, however when it comes to long dark Winter days, poor weather, extreme heat in the Summer, animal tasks are still to be done. The team will be delivering care in the pouring rain, gale force winds and the snow blizzards! After a day of treks and experiences, there are many more tasks to address with the animals and the facilities, even when the human team are weary, everyone mucks in, we don’t have a backup team behind the scenes!  Our drive and passion for the animals to come first above our own wellbeing is a labour of love, long hours and in all weathers, we are committed! 

Trekking welfare:

When it comes to selecting animals for treks and experiences, their welfare is our main consideration. We have a rota for the animals, so they only engage in the minimum amount for their capacity. Rotas are structured based on the bookings in for the week and also the makeup of humans we have coming along. Not all our animals engage on every experience or trek, they are selected by age, ability, and personality. Creating rotas is quite an intricate task, we also consider ‘spare’ animals for the rota too just in case an animal presents as not being 100% on the day. We equally never ‘over book’ a trek or experience, as although we have plenty of animals to go round, we will never interfere with an animal’s day off.   This way we know we have happy animals who ‘want’ to engage on the experiences and treks and none of them ever do more than their share! 

The ‘Trekking Code of Conduct’ has been developed by ‘The British Llama Society’, which sets out good practice for the welfare of trekking llamas and alpacas.  Nidderdale Llamas were instrumental in 2018 in the revising of the guidance throughout the UK for good practice within the industry. We are proud to be associated with this as one of its authors.

Here we explain a little more about the management of our llamas and alpacas welfare….

We hope this also offers an understanding of how we determine our prices as keeping llamas and alpacas attracts some extensive costs.


Llamas and alpacas can live outdoors all year round, they are not stabled like many equines, however we still deal with every individual daily.  The herd is split into 4 smaller herds, each small herd is determined based on gender, age, condition and character. This is so we can be sure every animal is content within its environment for its happiness and wellbeing. Llamas and alpacas are like humans with their characters and personalities and some of the stronger characters can be intimidating to the less strong animals, causing them to stress. Stress can lead to a decline in mental and physical health so avoiding stress is a key factor when considering where each animal needs to be on the farm. Knowing each animals’ personality to allocate them to the correct herd is essential, but also dealing with any unexpected changes in a timely manner.

Fields and paddocks do not manage themselves and boundaries need to be effective and well maintained. We constantly strive to ensure our fields and paddocks are safe for the animals and well maintained. This includes the ground in the paddocks were the animal’s ‘toilet’.  In the paddocks we collect the droppings, some on a daily basis other on a weekly basis, dependant on how many animals live in that area.  We also have to ‘feed’ the pasture, which we do at select times of year by means of spreading manure onto the paddocks to give it back the nutrients required for the grass to re grow. From time to time, we rest complete areas of land and allow the grass to recover and on occasions, plough that area and re seed it again for a fresh start.

We grow and harvest our own hay. This requires manpower, machine power, plus good weather! This is a very costly process, but by growing our own, we know exactly what is in it.

Our barns and shelters all have to cleaned out on a daily basis, making the environment as clean and fresh as possible for our animals to use as shelter. It all takes time and manpower.

Diet Management & Vitamins

Camelids primarily graze on grass, but it’s essential they also have access to good quality hay or haylage all year round. Each herd always has adlib access to hay, along with fresh water.  We also feed supplemental hard feed, essential for growth and maintaining good health. Each animal has its own diet plan, everyone is haltered and fed individually, which is very labour intensive, but so important.

By this method not only do we know every animal’s true condition all year round, but we can also detect and intervene where health problems arise. We purchase our feed in bulk and measure each portion out for each animal!  We use a maintenance feed and a ‘conditioning’ feed, which are fed together but we can adapt the measurement of the conditioning feed to the needs of each animal throughout the seasons. To double check weight and health, the team ‘body score’ and weigh each animal every 3 months to ensure they are receiving the correct diet. For our older animals and a few others who may present with minor joint health issues we give a joint support supplement, enriching their diet in order to support their immunity and joints.

During the Autumn and Winter months, additional vitamins and minerals are required. The sunlight in this country is simply not strong enough for camelids to absorb enough vit D, this being the most essential additional vitamin they require.  We order special vitamin products through our vet and ensure we have enough to last us from late September through to early April. These are essential for joint maintenance and good mental health of each animal. The vitamins are generally given by injection (6-8 weekly) or oral paste (4 weekly), it entirely depends on the individual animal.

Fleece Management

Fleeces are another area of intense management, they may look fluffy and cute but they are heavy overcoats in the Spring and Summer and every animal requires a haircut!  We manage fleeces all year round, by regularly grooming the llamas, removing debris that could become buried and cause injury to the skin. You should never groom an alpaca, as it destroys their fibre, but we ensure by checking over them, nothing has buried its way into the fleece.  By early May, we have generally made a start on shearing. Suzanne has trained herself (with the help of her team) to take the task on and the animals are much less stressed as opposed to a shearer coming along to undertake the task.  Every single animal is assessed for its requirement that year and the appropriate amount of fleece removed, depending on their type, age, and health

Toe nails!

No, we don’t require the farrier! Llamas tend to self-maintain their toenail length, but some do require attention every now and then. We deal with this as it arises by carefully cutting off any excess toenail that has overgrown.  Llamas don’t particularly enjoy their feet being handled, so the task itself is quite a tricky one. We have to make sure the llama is not stressed whilst we are dealing with the task and also that the human’s involved either at the head end or at the end of the foot holding the toenail clippers is safe from being kicked or injured by the clippers themselves, they are somewhat sharp as llama’s toenails are very very hard! 

Alpacas toenails need attention and trimming every 3 to 4 months which means they are much more accepting of having their feet handled. They are much softer than llama toenails and being the smaller of the two animals, much easier to deal with when it come to a manicure!

Maintaining Good Health

All animals are subject to health problems and grazing animals a little more than others. Llamas and Alpacas can pick up parasites when grazing from the soil and environment, if these are not monitored then their health will decline and it can lead to death.  In order to control parasites, we have to regularly take samples of poo to the vets. The poo is analysed by the laboratory and the results passed to our vets.  We then discuss with the vets whether we need to administer any treatments to the animals and if so, exactly which treatment/s. We might also discuss a plan to prevent further infestations, as well as when a follow up worm count may be needed in order to check the correct treatment and dosage was administered.

Another maintenance element is annual vaccinations which protect the llamas and alpacas from a range of potentially fatal diseases. We use two different types, as the breeding females require a different vaccination in comparison to the rest of the herd.

Breeding Llamas

We do have a team of breeding female llamas. We do not breed alpaca though as there are plenty of alpaca breeders around the UK (also, all our alpacas are male). We breed with the aim of 4-8 baby llamas (crias) a year. Baby llamas massively benefit from having other baby llamas around them, so it is important they have their own little herd of babies. Also, when it comes to weaning, it is nice for them to have at least one friend to join the big llama herds with. By having at least 4 babies, the hope is, there will be more than one male born, so that they have companionship of a similar aged llama to grow up with. We breed for our own purpose, to fill in the bottom of the herd age wise, which means we have younger legs which can take over the workload of those llamas who are ready to reduce their workload.

Our breeding is carefully managed, so that no llama becomes stressed out during the process. We select the females for breeding based on their age, health and maternal nature. They need to be a minimum of 3 years old before they have their first date so that they are fully developed both physically and mentally, and retirement age will entirely depend on the individual animal. Each year, we make individual assessments on each female to determine whether they would be bred or not. Some females may have 2-3 babies in a row, whereas some females will have one baby and then one to a few years off, depending on their health.

We have 4 stud males, who are chosen for their type, conformation as well as temperament. Selecting which male for which female is chosen in order to improve any imperfections, so that the resulting offspring has the best possible conformation and temperament. All our llamas are registered with the British Llama Society and each animal has a certificate which indicates their genetic background, therefore we carefully make sure none of our males and females are related.

During the process of breeding, both the males and females are halter and on lead ropes. They are taken to a certain part of the farm which they only ever go to for breeding. The relevant male and female are introduced, and if for any reason, either becomes stressed, they can be parted with ease. This method of breeding (known as pen mating), is the least stressful way for both parties. But it also keeps the males calm and cool headed, meaning they can still live in with the other boys, as well as still partake in the treks and experiences.









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