|Llama Owner Information
Uses and Training
Sutter's Mill Llama Ranch
Bill & Sandy Chickering
Uses & Training
"What are they used for" is a question commonly asked of llama owners. Breeding, packing, wool production, companion animals and sheep guarding head the list of common llama uses. Because they are so gentle and easy to train, llamas are popular attractions in parades, shows, fairs and community events, and are fun to take on school, hospital or nursing home visits. Llamas and guanacos are becoming increasingly popular for guarding sheep from coyotes and wild dogs.
The llamas centuries-old ability as a beast of burden has been rediscovered by hikers, hunters and forest work crews in North America. Their hardiness, sure-footedness and common sense make them excellent pack animals and trail companions. They are quiet, unobtrusive and so easy to manage that children love to lead them. Their great agility allows them to negotiate terrain that would be difficult or impossible for traditional pack animals, and, because of their padded feet and ability to browse, they have minimal impact on the back country. When confronted by other pack stock, unexpected situations, and sudden movement or noises, llamas remain calm and unruffled. Males are most commonly used for packing, and, depending on maturity, weight and condition, will tote 50-120 pound packs 6-15 miles a day. An animal's performance is always relative to training, fitness and trail condition. A variety of custom packs and halters are available for llama use.
Camelid (especially alpaca) wool production is a multi-million dollar industry in South America, making these animals appealing to spinners and weavers here. Lamas have soft, fine wool, for protection against cold and insulation from heat, which can be made into beautiful garments and blankets. Lamas hand-shorn every other year will produce a grease-free fleece weighing three to eight pounds with a fiber length of four to seven inches. Year round brushing yields about the same results and leaves the long, coarser guard hairs in place. Their docile nature makes llamas easy to train to accept a halter, lead, kush (lie down), carry a pack, load in and out of a vehicle or pull a cart. With just a few repetitions they will pick up and retain any of these skills. Llamas with minimum training are easy to handle when you are trimming nails, brushing or shearing, or when health problems necessitate touching them in sensitive places.