Llamas arrived at the farm in 1992. The first llama was to be a guardian for our flock of goats and sheep. He preformed that job well, staying with the flock and alerting us of any danger. Our herd of llamas grew quickly and we enjoyed showing and breeding them for many years. More recently we have retired them from the show ring and breeding program. The llamas have but two jobs now, helping to guard our flock of goats and sheep from predators and producing fibers. While normally placid, llamas are surprisingly effective if a predator approaches. They will sound a high- pitched alarm to warn the rest of the herd that danger exists. If necessary will charge toward the intruder, chase, kick and spit, to drive them off.
Llamas are highly social animals and need the companionship of other llamas. They communicate their moods with a series of tail, body and ear postures as well as vocalization. Humming is a common method of communication between llamas, indicating a variety of moods from contentedness to concern. Learning this llama language is one of the joys of ownership.
Llama wool ranges from white to black, with shades of grays, browns, and reds. Markings can be a variety of patterns from solid to spotted. Llamas can be light, medium and heavy wooled. They can be duel coated meaning short fibers with long guard hairs or single coated. Their wool makes beautiful yarn, spun by itself, or mixed with other fibers.
Mature llamas weigh between 250 and 450 pounds with a lifespan of 15 to 25 years. Like goats and sheep, llamas are multi-stomached ruminants that chew their cud. A llama’s unique, specially-adapted foot makes it remarkable sure-footed on a variety of terrains, including sandy soils and snow. A llama has two toes with a broad, leathery pad on the bottom and curved nails on the front. A question always asked by visitors “Do they spit”. The answer is “yes, sometimes when they are threatened or when competing for food but in general do not spit at people.”
Llamas are truly a delight to have on the farm. We enjoyed them in the show ring, having a new cria arrive, taking them on a hike or just watching them interacting with each other or visitors.