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Llamas were in North America up to 40 million years ago, but became extinct here during the Ice Age. Llamas migrated to South America and became prominent in the Andean Mountains in Peru. Llamas were domesticated in the highlands of Peru approximately 5,000 years ago, which makes them one of the oldest domesticated animals in the world. They were used as meat and pack animal to haul items through the mountains. For centuries, llama hair has been used to make blankets, clothing, crafts, and rope. Their hides have been used by the Andeans to make sandals. 

An illustrated llama with a pack on its back is being led through the mountains by a person walking ahead.

Llamas were used as pack animals.

An illustrated map highlights Peru and the Andes Mountains. Surrounding countries are noted including Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

Llamas were domesticated in the Andes Mountains in Peru thousands of years ago. 

Llamas were imported to North America in the early 1900s so they could be reintroduced to their native territory. At first, they lived on private farms and zoos. Today, there are an estimated 6,000 llamas in Canada.

A group of four brown and white llamas stand in an open area with mountains in the background.

Llamas come in a variety of colours.

An illustration with an alpaca and a llama is shown with information about each animal including weight, size, what they are raised for, what they look like, differences in their fur coat, etc.
Llamas have long, curved, banana-like ears.
Llamas have longer faces than alpacas.
Llamas were traditionally used as pack animals.
Llamas have coarse coats that are less uniform in colour than alpacas. Llama fibre is considered less valuable than alpaca fibre because it is so coarse.
90 to 158 kg
200 to 380 lbs
Llamas are more prone to spitting.
Alpacas have shorter, straight, pointy ears.
Alpacas have a short, fluffy face.
Alpacas were traditionally raised for fibre production and meat consumption.
Alpacas have a soft coat that is uniform in colour. Alpacas naturally produce a fine, soft fibre in a wide variety of colours.
45 to 68 kg
100 to 175 lbs

People often mix up alpacas and llamas, so here are some defining differences between these two animals.

Industry Overview

In 2016, it was counted that there were about 3,165 llamas and alpacas in Saskatchewan. Today, approximately 14 farms in Saskatchewan have llamas.  

Producers are raising them in hopes to build a commercial market for their natural fibres. One group of producers sort the fleece into six classes based on quality. Llama fibre is considered less valuable than alpaca fibre because it is so coarse. 

An illustration of two llamas standing together.

Llama fibre is quite coarse! 

Saskatchewan llama producers can choose if and how to sell their products. Some llama farms raise llamas and produce their own llama fibre products such as socks, clothing, yarn, and more! 

A roll of white llama fibre sits on a wooden surface.

Llama fibre doesn’t contain any natural oils or lanolin, which makes it lightweight.

Who is Who?

A male llama stands in a field with blue skies behind him.


Male llamas are called studs.

A crias stands in a pasture.


Llama babies are called crias.

A female Llama lies on the ground next to her baby.


Female llamas are called hembras, which is Spanish for females.

Animal Care

Farmers provide their llamas with nutritious food and clean drinking water. There are not many diseases that llamas can get, but they are still vaccinated in case of a disease or a parasite. Llamas are dewormed every six months.

A group of four brown and white llamas stand in an open area with mountains in the background.

Llama farmers want to keep their llamas happy and healthy!

A farmer is trimming a llama’s nails with a nail trimmer.

If llamas are not on hard or rocky ground, their toenails have to be trimmed twice a year.

Animal Housing

Llamas live outside all year round. In the summer they should have access to water that they can cool off in. They have a three-sided shelter that can help them hide from the heat and protect them when there is a storm.

Two illustrated llamas stand in a field. There is a pond and a three-sided barn in the background.

Llamas are rugged enough to live outside all year, but need access to water to cool off and shelter from storms. 


Like alpaca farmers, llama farmers are finding ways to incorporate technology to help manage their farm and monitor their herds. Drones can be used to check on llamas and pastures and that information can be sent back to the farmer. Farmers use phones and tablets to review the information and look after their herd. 

Llama farmers will use devices such as automatic water systems that distribute clean, safe, and fresh water during each season. They might also opt for automatic feeders that can be programmed to dispense feed throughout the day.

A llama has water dripping from its mouth while standing in a pen.

Llama farmers can use automatic watering systems to ensure their llamas always have access to water.


Llamas provide us with fibre that can be used to make things. Llamas also provide us with leather and meat.


Llama meat is high in protein and low in fat. In some countries, such as Peru, llama is eaten as a main source of meat.

A llama roast sits half cut on a wooden platter on a counter.

Llama meat is a healthy choice for protein.