Our Llama Herd consisting of Woolly, Suri and Spotty Llamas also known as Appaloosa
Our foundation herd came initially from Paul Rose of Roseland Llamas, a specialist UK breeder and importer of woolly llamas. Since then we have added more new bloodlines and llama genetics from Europe , South America , North America and Canada. Rossi and Benito came from two camelid breeders in Switzerland, both of whom carefully select and import top quality llamas and alpacas from South America and Europe. Our Italian Llamas de Oro are bred by one of the top Italian Camelid judges, who selectively breeds for unrivalled conformation, fine fleece, and exemplary temperament as he uses his llamas extensively in animal assisted therapy as well as for commercial trekking in the tourist industry. Many of our llamas have come from Llamas del Sur in Chile, and these animals in particular have very steady temperaments and calm personalities, especially those with Argentine bloodlines.More recently we brought in another exciting importation of Argentine and suri llamas from Canada and the USA and we are really enjoying seeing their influence in our herd.
Click on a Llama to learn more about them:
My dream llama is the true Argentine ! so let me tell you more .............In northern Argentina there are no alpacas , just llamas and vicunas, so the people raise their llamas for meat , for fibre and for packing. The result is a llama with very dense but very fine fleece , coverage being from tip to toe, and even in between the toes of their huge feet. Their distinctive heads are typically very woolly too with big fringes and top-knots, and very hairy ears ! Argentines are wide-chested, robust and very sturdy , despite their teddy-bear looks, and have heavy-boned legs like fence posts going down to the most enormous hairy feet . Argentines typically have sweet and gentle dispositions , high intelligence, and make excellent breeders. Between 1997 and 2000 around 80 full and some part Argentines were imported into the USA via Chile before a serious foot and mouth outbreak in Argentina closed the borders which have never re-opened. Much work was done to maintain the pure Argentine genetics , including many llama births from embryo transfer , but numbers are still small . Many breeders have included some full or part Argentines in their breeding programmes over the years but few can say that they have a full Argentine that can be traced back on both sides to Northern Argentina. Here at Watertown we have several part Argentines , but in 2017 we were lucky enough to import from North America via Canada two half Argentines, and one fabulous full Argentine ............Argentine Touche !
Below are three famous Argentine llamas, Kobra who was one of the original imports, Don Zunca who has been one of the most prolific , and widely used in embryo transfer work , and Poltergeist , father of our Argentine Touche who is the appaloosa or spotted boy pictured above to the left .
There is a particular class of llama known as the Suri , characterised by long fine fleece that hangs in tight curls or ringlets , like tassels known as locks, that drape , shimmer and sway as the llama moves. Suri means ‘straight’ in the Aymaran language of South America and is often used to describe falling rain . Suri alpacas and llamas have been imported into North America over the last 30 years, but they account for only 7-10% of the overall camelid population in both South and North America. Suri animals are distinguished by their long ,lustrous, independent, free-flowing locks hanging down parallel to the body in groups of fibers known as ‘locks’. They exhibit no evidence of crimp, loft or fluffiness. These locks can be expressed in shapes of twisted, curled, wavy or straight groups of lustrous fibers. Some folk assume that suri llamas must be the product of llama and suri alpaca crosses, but DNA analysis has confirmed the existence of ‘unhybridized’ suri llamas, and the study of pre-conquest mummified llamas has shown that they existed prior to the Spanish Conquest.Two of the first suri type llamas to be imported into the USA from South America are now quite legendary , namely Peruvian Keno and Kantu . More pure suri imports followed , and at the height of llama popularity in America one sire named Newevo sold for $200,000 and another very prolific Canadian sire was the aptly named Bolivian Easy Money !
In 2017 we were finally able to import some suri llamas from Canada with some of these wonderful genetics into our own herd , including stud males and breeding females , and we look forward very much to seeing more suri offspring being born at Watertown Llamas in 2018.
Pictured below are three suri llama champions, Easy Money , Keno and Kantu !
About our Llamas
Our adult male llamas live together in a batchelor group, quite amicably for most of the year, but during the breeding season from May to August things can get a little bit competitive, so the llama boys are then divided into two separate areas. The fields are enclosed by high hedges which they keep well trimmed for us, and when they are not grazing or browsing the llamas are free to wander into their loafing shed, a light and airy barn, providing shade ,shelter and fresh hay.
Because we have so many, our llama girls are usually divided into two or three groups so that we can easily see if anybody needs any special attention. The pregnant female llamas will be pastured in the birthing paddocks at least 6 weeks before their due dates as the girls like to pick their spot well in advance where they will choose to calve when the time comes. Birthing of the crias takes place from May to August, so fields with plenty of shade are needed for the girls in late pregnancy.
The new born llamas known as crias really benefit from being in the company of other siblings in the nursery fields, running, playing and learning about llama life together. During this time we keep a close eye on the nursing Mums as lactation can be nutritionally very demanding, especially as most of them will be re-bred at this time for another cria next year.
The younger llamas not yet old enough to breed have the run of the furthest fields . They are great fun to work with and after basic halter-training they enjoy taking on a variety of different obstacles and challenges, designed to build their confidence.
We start actively working with our young llamas at weaning time, around 6 months of age, when they are separated from their Mums. This is a very exciting time for us when we really start getting to know their individual personalities. Following the core principles of Camelidynamics , first lessons are very short, sometimes just two minutes with each little llama, but they are quick learners. Every llama is allowed to progress at his own pace, with some accepting a halter straightaway and others needing a little more help. Eventually the time comes when these little camelids graduate, and when that day comes its always with some regret but great pride that we hand them over to their proud new owners !