Saturday, May 28, 2011

It Has Been a Learning Experience

I grew up in farm country. I have either lived with or been exposed to every kind of livestock imaginable but I knew nothing about llamas and alpacas until recently. I’m still just a newbie to the subject, I’m learning though.

Someone asked, “How do you know the difference between a llama and alpaca?”  The easiest way is by their size. Llamas are taller and heavier than alpacas. You can also tell by their ears. A llama’s ears are on top of the head and are curved at the tips.


An alpaca’s ears should not curve.


And are placed much more to the side of the head, which is most noticeable when they are relaxed.


Other than that they are very much alike, they can even breed creating a viable offspring. Not something you would ever want to happen though. That is why the alpaca boys are in the far North pasture here and the llama girls are in the far South pasture. Until the boys have their little procedure that makes my husband cringe every time we discuss it, they won’t even be allowed near each other.

Someone else asked why they look like they are wearing legwarmers. It is not just because they like the movie Flashdance. It is to help keep the flies from bothering their legs. Llamas usually only have their mid section shorn, called a barrel cut. They dissipate heat through their belly area so in the hot, humid Indiana summers they need that area shorn to cool off. Thelma was such a mess with burrs though she got a full shave this year. She and all the alpaca boys will start looking soft and wooly again before winter. In the mean time we get to poke fun at enjoy their freak-from-outer-space look.

Both llamas and alpacas are pretty low maintenance. They enjoy the same diet as sheep which is grass, grass hay and a mineral supplement. Obviously Thelma and Louise are also starting to get some llama chow to fatten them up.

They are quiet, only making a soft humming noise at times. The can also do an alarm call when there is danger. This alarm call is why we wanted the llama girls to come live here. We need someone to wake Willa up when there is something going on. She works nights and often sleeps right through anything going on during the day.

They are very neat and tidy, creating a communal dung pile. That makes it easy to clean up and helps prevent the spread of parasites. Their soft toes do not tear up the pasture like a donkey or a horse would. And they are smart. Really smart.

Overall I have to say they are some of the finest creatures to walk the earth. I love them. You should try some for yourself.



Debby said...

I am getting closer and closer to getting alpacas instead of sheep, although I love the Shetland Sheep.

Snappy Di said...

They're adorable and look very loveable. Are they?

Karen Anne said...

There were alpacas at the farmers' market this morning. Unbelievably attractive.

Kathy said...

Our city council frowns on alpacas, sheep and goats in the city, so I will have to enjoy yours.
You're developing quite a fiber farm there. Will the sale of fleeces help to offset the cost of caring for your animals or do you plan to keep all the wool and fiber for your own use?

Christine said...

It's mine...all mine...mwah, ha, ha...

just kidding, I'm hoping to sell my extra but I doubt they will ever pay for themselves.

Yes, Snappy Di, they are very lovable. Such gentle creatures.

Gone Country said...

They are SO cute! I want one or two or three! Maybe someday!

I like how they're smart and tidy! How cool!

The Barn Door said...

Hmmm....I may have to look into fostering an Alpaca or two!!

Sheila said...

Christine, Thanks for explaining the difference between alpacas and llamas. They look like they are enjoying Indiana. Have a great holiday weekend!

thecrazysheeplady said...

That looks like a pretty darn happy llama :-).

Mary Ann said...

Christine, I hope you tell people reading your blog that llamas are not lovey-dovey like goats or horses.... they know their own minds, and will not love all over you. Ours are great guardians and so much fun to watch, but on Llama Rodeo Day (coming up in two weeks).... LOOKOUT! Other than that, they are easy keepers and gentle companions to animal/people they know. If they don't... whoa!