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New Llamas Join Alpaca Herd

Tom Boggan Published: 02 March 2024

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Three white and grey llamas in a field

Here is a little update from us at Wymondham Alpacas & Llamas. That’s right, we now have llamas! Since our last article we have had three lovely (big) llamas join us at the farm: Joseph, Roddy and Tonio. Sometimes llamas are given a bit of a bad rep, but these boys are fantastic and so friendly. They tower over the alpacas so their sheer size can seem intimidating, but they really are gentle giants. These boys are extra special as they are woolly llamas so unlike your regular llama they are not sheared around their neck and legs, so all year round they have the most beautiful beard and baggy trousers! When it comes to shearing time there are two options, because although they are not completely sheared they do get a trim. You can either hand clip them taking away the longer fleece around the back and belly to give good airflow for the summer months or give them what's called a barrel cut which is shearing just round the back and belly, but you can imagine they will then look like huge poodles walking round the paddock. You’ll have to wait and see what decision we make as shearing time comes in May. Whatever we do will be for the welfare and best interests of the animals, I’ll discuss it with the shearer when the time comes. Pictured, you will see some of our Alpacas from shearing time last year, you can see the crazy difference and that's why shearing is so important. You can imagine the heat held in the fleece during the summer months, and in the winter, due to the rain the fleece can become very heavy, so it’s important it comes off. We then just need to be creative when it comes to what to do with the fleece afterwards - making little key rings, felted animal figures, running felting workshops etc.

Now it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in farming, and once winter hits is when the struggle comes. This year is the first time in five years we have been forced to shut due to the awful weather we’ve been having; the rain just hasn't stopped and at points our paddock has been under water. For this reason, having the public attend the farm to take the boys out for walks has been impossible and I found myself constantly having to cancel experiences. As you can imagine, our boys, a bit like us, become fed up with the constant wet weather so it's unfair to drag them out in it, which is why I made the decision to stop, with the hopes to re-open in April/springtime. Looking after livestock in the winter is always the hardest as the job load becomes so much more; with the fields so waterlogged we now keep the boys in the shelter more and more to give their feet a chance to recover and dry to avoid any damage or foot rot. For this reason, we are constantly having to refresh the straw bedding in the shelter and keep the hay racks topped up. The saying goes, it's feast or famine with grazing, and at this time of year the grass disappears in an instance, meaning more supplement feed and hay is provided which of course all comes at a cost. To make things worse this year, we have been struck with many storms in quick succession, so the boys’ shelter has taken a hammering. This week we lost the top layer of our roof that was only newly replaced in October 2023, so another thing to add to our to-do list. Luckily we have a second layer roof so the boys are still kept nice and dry, we just have a couple of small leaks to fix.

llamas and alpacas in shelter surrounded by mud and puddles

Now it’s not all doom and gloom and I can honestly say I’m still living the dream! The challenge of everything is all part of the job and it’s all about how you overcome it, and before we know it, spring will be here! Keeping spirits high was the arrival of two new alpacas, Thomas and Jules, who came to us as rescues needing rehoming due to the previous owners being ill and unsure of their future plans. We have taken the boys in, both in their prime at eight years old, halter trained and in good condition. Once they have had a chance to settle, who knows - we may even be able to add them to our trekking group? Or will they just join the group of expensive field ornaments? So happy to welcome them to the family, regardless, and they will now have a forever home with us.

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