Llamas: A New Type Of Farming

Llamas are raised for their fiber, as pack animals and for show. Learn why and how to get started on this new type of farming.

There is a new type of farm popping up all over and the faces on it are not those of cows, pigs, or even sheep... but llamas. Yes, llamas. People farm llamas for many reasons, some of the main ones being for wool or fiber, packing and trekking animals or for show.

These animals that once were found in the wild in South America were domesticated by the Incas in Peru. They were then used for their fiber, and many spinners today find llama fiber usable to make very fine garments such as felt hat, and their coarser fiber is used for sweaters, rugs and wall hangings. Llama fiber is found in a wide array of colors, from whitest white to blackest black and every shade of color in between.

Llamas are also raised as packing or trekking animals. Many ranchers and hikers use them as trail companions. They carry gear and supplies or can be ridden by small children. It is not uncommon today to go to a resort that offers hiking and nature trails and to find that llamas are offered as pack animals. They suit this purpose well as adult llamas can reach 5' to 6' tall and weigh between 300 - 400 pounds. They can also carry up to 100 pounds of weight. They have padded feet which makes them gentle on the environment and they also can eat almost any vegetation along the way.

Llamas can also be trained to pull carts, much as a horse or pony would. You can see this often at llama shows. Many people raise llamas simply for pleasure and to take to shows where they are judged for their training and perforance and conformity. Others take their pet llamas to nursing homes or to schools so they can share their gentleness and uniqueness with those who may not get many chances to see them elsewhere.

Some of the llamas sold from llama farms are bought specifically for use as a guard animal. They are very nurturing and protective of smaller animals and therefore are natural protectors of sheep, goats and other small herds.

With their many uses, llamas are becoming more popular. So the next time you're out driving through the countryside don't be surprised if you see a llama or two out to pasture at the farm down the road. Soon it will be a common sight.

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