When choosing llamas to buy, it is sensible to give some thought to your own particular requirements before making your selection. If you want to "show" your llamas then conformation and quality of fleece will be very important, but you will also want to know that your llama will handle well and behave appropriately in the show ring. If you want pack llamas for trekking, a dependable temperament will be just as important as an even gait, especially if the llamas are likely to be regularly handled by strangers and members of the public as well as by their owner. If you want to breed llamas, it makes sense to try and match a suitable stud llama with an appropriate dam and to avoid breeding from any llama with a genetic defect, or a history of birthing problems. If the dam and sire are both proven, it is obviously helpful to look at their offspring and does confirm their fertility. If you are looking for guard llamas to mind your lambs, chickens or even your alpaca crias, it is important to choose some with a suitable temperament that are likely to be protective of your stock.
The right personality for this job is not actually an aggressive character, more a caring and almost devoted one. Llamas are not aggressive by nature but they are herd animals with strong instincts for group preservation. When a llama sights potential danger, his or her first reaction is to alert the rest of the herd and all members then close ranks as a united team. Two or three guard llamas working together will do a better job than one on his own, despite the popular misconception that a llama will not bond with sheep or other species if he has other llama companions. If the llamas you have gone to see are just at large in a field or paddock dont be afraid to ask the owner to bring them in so that you can get close to them. If they are being sold as halter-trained then ask the owner to halter them for you. If you went to buy a car you would want to carry out a close inspection and go for a test drive , you wouldnt just look at it parked up on the far side of the forecourt. Its the same deal with choosing a llama. You cant just look at it from the gate when its the other side of a field and hope to make an informed choice! Finally , and more importantly, check for any obvious health issues such as skin problems, most commonly visible in the "armpits " or groin areas. Look at the llamas overall conformation and be very wary of a condition known as "dropped pasterns". This can affect front or hind legs and can only get worse. Dont be afraid to ask the seller direct questions about the llamas current state of health and any possible past issues in his or her history. If you dont have any experience with llamas or alpacas maybe take a more knowledgeable friend with you, or do some research on what to look for before you set off. Take lots of photos and don't feel pressured to make a decision on the spot!