By Lisa Pecchenino
Ginny and Ken Greger have been raising and packing Llamas for over 25 years. Not only do they use them for wool and packing, they even rent them out to other hikers. We ran into the Kuna residents at the Western Idaho State Fair and were fascinated by llama culture.
South America is the native location for the Llama. There are also more than 100,000 Llamas between the United States and Canada. There is fossil evidence to indicate that the Llama has been on Earth for more than 1 million years. They are able to easily adapt to changes in their environment and thrive just about anywhere that offers them food and habitat.
The Llama is used in many cultures as a mode of transportation through some of the toughest terrain. They are also able to carry up to 30% of their body weight for long distances.
They can grow to a size of five-and-a-half feet tall. Their overall weight can vary significantly from 280 pounds and 450 pounds. The fiber from the Llama is very soft and it is free from lanolin. That is why it is often used to make a variety of types of organic clothing.
The body of the Llama is somewhat similar to that of a Camel, but without humps, and have a narrow body and legs that are very powerful. They have small heads and small ears. They also have a very short tail. They are usually a shade of brown but it can range from very light to very dark, depending on their habitat location.
Taught in captivity to perform a variety of tasks. It only takes them a few tries to get it right.
Ken and Ginny, owners of Two Rivers Llamas shared, “They are so easy to train, three times out and they’re pros.”
Ginny, who is also the Kuna Postmaster, explained that if you play with a male when he is little he will treat you like one of the pack, which perhaps is not such a smart idea. The curious nature of the Llama is great for hunting as they will spot your prey before you do as they have great peripheral vision and can carry up to 100 pounds.
“I only carry my water with me when we hunt,” Ginny said, “the Llamas carry the rest,” said Ken.
Female llamas give birth standing up to crias (baby llamas) and carry their babies between 11 and 12 months. The birth itself is usually over within half an hour. Baby llamas are generally standing up and attempting to walk within an hour.
The llama is a herbivore and gets most of its nutrition from grass, leaves and young shoots. Llamas also do not have the same water retaining properties of their camel cousins, meaning that the llama must drink more often and llamas therefore prefer to be close to water.
“They eat about just anything,” Ken said. “The split lips are just like fingers, they use them to get exactly what they want to eat.”
Some might think the split lip is for spiting; one behavior of the Llamas that people aren’t thrilled about. However, according to Ginny the only reason a Llama would spit is if you startled them, good to know.
“Llamas can’t take high heat, so when packing in the hot weather you do need to let them drink more water,” Ken stated.
Ken said that Llama meat is sweeter than beef, but you won’t find Two Rivers Llamas eating any their 40 animals, they use their curious lot for packing only.
Llamas are graded by their wool and there are only four different kinds of Llamas, Chilea – from Chile, there are medium height and have thick wool, Classic – very tall, lightly built with short hair, Bolivian – on the short side, very long hair and lots of hair in their ears, and the Argentinian – a medium sized Llama, with very fine hair.
Each Llama defiantly has its own personality and don’t like to be touched on or around the face, Ginny shared.
To find out more about renting a Llama for your next hunting, camping or day trip contact Two Rivers Llamas at 208-922-4807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.