4 reasons Judy thinks llamas are better than alpacas & sheep
They are respectful
Judy has farmed sheep for almost 30 years, but has found they aren't respectful of personal space. That can be a problem if you're a bit more rickety than you used to be.
“Initially I bred sheep but they started to beat me up a bit. If a sheep wants to go to a certain part of a paddock or a yard and you're in the way, they'll go through you and it hurts.
“A llama has a natural personal space of about a metre and a half and they will actually go to a great deal of trouble not to invade your personal space. They are just so much safer to have around.”
They have 5000 years of good-tempered breeding behind them
In South America, a good llama is your best friend. A bad llama is dinner.
“If they were nasty and unpleasant then they were into the cooking pot that very night, so the selection for temperament happened with the llama where it didn't to the same degree with the alpaca. If I get kicked, it's by one of the alpacas, not the llamas.”
They’re much less work
Llamas (and alpacas) do require injections of vitamins A, D and E because their fibre is so thick, it stops the sun getting to their skin.
But the bonus is a purebred llama is self-shedding, and you can comb out its very fine (on average 18 micron) undercoat and use it for spinning or felting.
There's also very little hoof trimming needed.
“I have some that I never trim, some I trim once a year, and the odd one or two that need a bit more – generally they're the ones with white feet.
“I find them quite trainable, I've trained mine to pick their feet up. That just makes it easier, you don't want to battle with a big animal.”
They’re very good converters of feed
An adult llama is approximately 1.8 sheep, but even Monte at 180kg is very light on his feet.
“They reckon the impression of a llama's hoof on the environment is less than the hiker's boot because they've got those soft toes and they don't make a mess.”
Where it starts to become a problem is that like goats, they don't gain immunity to parasites.
“They are evolved to go and have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the odd twig, a variety, so when we confine them and make them eat around their own manure you have problems and that's where you have to do lots of drenching.”
A mother and cria.