The strongest animals on earth are plant eaters. Every creature we’ve enlisted to do the work we couldn’t handle – the horse, donkey, elephant, camel, water buffalo, ox, yak – is an herbivore… whose huge muscles were built from plant protein, and whose strong bones got that way, and stayed that way, from grazing on grass and eating other vegetables.
Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America andby the end of the last ice age (10,000–12,000 years ago), camelids were extinct in North America. In the South American Andes they played a major role for the indigenous cultures . They were domesticated by pre-Columbian cultures and raised there for thousands of years.
These camelids are very versatile and useful in many different ways. They are used as a source of meat, for fibre, as pack animals or livestock guardians.
Llamas and alpacas are both used for wool production, for alpacas it is their primary use. Their soft fleece is highly prized for being very strong, yet is surprisingly lightweight. It’s also long-lasting and very warm. Llamas have also been bred and raised as pack animals for thousands of years, helping their owners transport loads through the Andes Mountains in South America. An adult llama in good condition that has been properly trained for packing can carry about 25 to 30 per cent of its body weight.
Llamas can make very good guardians for other smaller livestock, many species are said to be more accepting of a llama guard than a guard dog.