Llamas are members of the Camel family. Technically, they are camelids. There
are four different camelids. Three are in the genus Lama, the llama, the
alpaca, and the guanaco. One is in its own genus vigunae, the vicuna. Llamas
have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.
Weights range from 250 to 450 pounds. Height at the head, 5 to 6 1/2 feet.
Color. Llamas come in a variety of colors. They can be various shades of
brown, black, peach, white, grey, roan, paints, spotted and many other patterns.
Coats: Llamas and alpacas have colorful light greaseless wool, which can
be used for all types of projects. Shearing or brushing collects it. Camelid
wool is different than sheep wool in a number of ways.
Camels and camelids have two toed feet, with a toenail sticking out of the
end of each toe. However, they walk on a kind of leathery pad, which gives
them excellent traction. In addition, this characteristic means that llamas
can "cruise" delicate woodlands with little or no damage to the environment.
The llama and the alpaca are both domesticated animals, and have never been
wild. The llama is larger than the alpaca.
In South American, llamas are used for pack animals; production of fiber
for rugs and ropes, meat, and even used their dung for fuel.
In the United States, llamas are used for light draft, fiber production,
show, and companion and guard animals.
The camelids are not ruminants, but they do ruminate. They are different
in that they have 3 stomachs instead of 4. However, in terms of feeding,
they should be fed and treated as ruminants rather than as non-ruminants
(such as horses). For example, oats should not be fed to llamas or alpacas,
as the "awns" on oats can cause ulcers.
The camelids are better at feed conversion than true ruminants as well. This
means that it takes less feed to make more llama than it would a sheep. Camelids
can survive on what would be considered something close to a desert for a
The camel family has a bad reputation for spitting. What more experience
has shown is that this type of behavior was developed for their interactions
with each other.
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