Adorable Llamas and Alpacas


           Llamas and alpacas are very different including size and fleece. A llama is almost twice the size of an alpaca!

           Llamas and alpacas are very different including size and fleece. A llama is almost twice the size of an alpaca! The llama has a very thick coat but an alpaca only has a single layer. The llama produces less fiber per animal than the alpacas even though they are really big. Alpacas are valued only for their fiber. Alpacas only have fleece fibers, not woolen fibers like the llamas.

            Do you know how to tell a llama apart from an alpaca? Llamas have banana shaped ears and long tails, while alpacas have straight ears and stubby tails. They are also very similar. They both descend from camels. Llamas and alpacas are gentle, elegant, and intelligent animals. Their hooves are padded with a soft cushion, therefore the impact of kicking is not as dangerous as other hoofed animals.

            At the National Western Stock Show, Masha shared some information about llamas. Masha was born and raised in Story, Wyoming and is the daughter of a llama breeder. She let me watch her llama named “Chicago”, get groomed for the show.

           Next I interviewed Barbara, a llama breeder who started working with llamas 25 years ago when she was a commercialized wool packer. Barbara is Masha’s mom. Their llamas enter different competitions and shows. Barbara packs the wool for sale and eventually sells the llamas. Barbara and Masha only had one llama at the stock show.

            As I moved on I met Kira. She raises an alpaca named Alphy, who is two years old. Kira and her family are part of the Larimer County 4-H association. Kira’s family take care of Huacaya and Suri alpacas. Huacaya alpacas are sheered every spring unless they are born in the summer then they are sheered the following year. As for the Suri they are sheered every two years. Kira became interested in alpacas and wanted to work with them after she visited the pet booth at last year’s fall festival.

            One final thing that I learned is that you should never make a llama or an alpaca mad or they will spit a green grassy smelly goo at you. Some of them don’t spit but I wouldn’t count on it!