What We Breed For
Having bred llamas for over 26 years, we have seen what is popular and marketable change, more than once. For a while, the puffier the wool the better, then bloodlines had to be 100% from a South American country. Now suri fiber is “in”.
We have tried to resist jumping around with the direction of our breeding program and have only adjusted because we really liked the change. We think that eventually several “looks” of llamas will be popular. We intentionally elected to maintain a diversity of bloodlines and phenotypes without loosing sight of “our basics”. One of the fun things about llamas is that there are so many looks and each owner can select the one, or ones, they like and want in their herd.
Each llama imparts specific characteristics to their offspring. The trick, as a breeder, is to figure out which male bred to which female will produce the desired result, most of the time. This is called “a good nick”. Many years ago I was told by long time llama and horse breeder Dick Patterson, “Breed the best to the best and hope for the best”. We do and we get it too.
Although many in the llama the industry have resisted breed standards, Our Breed Standards are as follows:
Sound Mind: Llamas are smart, willing companions. We steer away from both high strung and dull minded stock. Our llamas may need a bit more socialization than those with other genes but the result we get is calm, willing partners in the show ring or on the trail, as well as a canny opponent for predators.
Sound Conformation: Soundness is key to a long, healthy, pain free life. As breeders we consider it our ethical duty not to increase the number of llamas with unsound conformation. For a better understanding of sound conformation please refer to Dr. Murray Fowler’s article “Form, Function and Conformation”. It is our guide.
Athletic Ability: Llamas are agile, yet muscular beings, bred for transporting goods through the
Balance: To our eye, llamas should be tall and stretchy. The length of the neck should equal to the length of the back, which should be equal to the length of leg below the body. The neck should be set well up on the shoulder, naturally held erect and possessing a slight “S” curve. Heads should be clearly masculine or feminine with large, wide set, intelligent eyes and ears that hook toward each other. The back should be level, ending in an arched, centered tail. We like our llamas big or little, tall and 300-400 lbs.
Fiber: Fiber type and quality is something I have had my eye on for a long time because I am a spinner. I prize the characteristic of uniformity (all of the hairs being roughly the same in diameter) in a fleece above all. I also like the locked silky. It is a lustrous fleece type that it usually soft to the touch, looks like silk and is easy to keep clean. Suri fiber is also nice. This fiber falls in little bunches which twist around each other forming little “pencils”. Both suri and locked silky fiber types are very popular in the show ring I think because the fiber moves creating a fluid, sensuous look. Both fiber types hang down off of the llama and making them look wet. The puffy fleece type is my least favorite on the llama but remains the most versatile for hand spinning when sheared.
Coverage: Fiber should extend from the ears to the toes.
Color: The range of natural colors and frequently the effect of sun fading at the tips create a color variations which add a very exciting dimension to llama fiber not found in other fiber-producing animals. We love all of the colors llamas come in and try to keep a wide range for them in our herd for fiber production purposes. Recently we have begun breeding or specific colors in our breeding program. Please read about our “Precious Metals Program” to learn more.
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