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The Llamas of One Earth Farm


Here at One Earth Farm we diverge markedly from the traditional approaches to llama breeding by which many of the industry old-timers have earned their reputations.   Within the llama industry there has been as much opposition towards developing breed standards as there has been towards tried and true breeding systems.    Ours is not a slot machine approach to llama breeding, but is a well thought-out, scientifically supported system for livestock improvement.  We strive for uniformity and predictability in our breeding program.  Indeed, we are beginning the work of creating a purebred llama.

Newcomers to the farm are always struck by the uniformity of our herd, often asking how we tell one animal from the other – and we consider this the highest praise.  We have developed a ‘breed standard’ upon which our selection criteria are based, and it has been thrilling to see it slowly emerging in form and flesh before our very eyes.  Our ‘breed standard’ is apparent in the many pictures you see on these pages, but our selection parameters include fitness traits, conformation, temperament, fiber, style, and color.  Our management style is herd based, with selection away from individuals that require special attention.  Our approach to handling and training is very light-handed and respectful of this species’ gentle amiable nature, and our selection is always in the direction of calm easily managed animals.

While our selection has created beautiful animals that make marvelous companions, show animals, and herd guards, fiber is the ultimate end product for which this population is being shaped.  We maintain the herd at about 50% suri and 50% huacaya style fleeces, but in all other aspects our selection criteria is applied uniformly throughout the herd.  Our goal is a herd prepotent for dense, single, white fleeces that are uniform, fine, and lustrous. 

We do not profess to be able to accomplish such lofty breeding goals by ourselves, or even in this lifetime.  This species’ genome has been under siege for hundreds of years – first by war, then by poverty, and now by well meaning breeders here in North America – so reassembling a purebred from the ruble will not be easy.  Still, we are beginning that work here at One Earth Farm by utilizing rigorous selection, positive assortative mating, and line breeding.  At this stage we are merely working towards the creation of a premier herd comprised of superior animals that exhibit great prepotency for the traits with which we are concerned.  Ultimately this will form a nucleus herd to be used for ‘grading up’ a larger base population of select grade females as other breeders take our work into the future.

We fully expect that many will find our pragmatic approach to llama breeding tedious, as will some find the uniformity for which we are striving boring and the snail’s pace at which we move unrewarding.  But for those old-timers that have grown weary of the slot machine style of breeding that has crippled the llama industry, and for those newcomers who crave lasting value and genetic excellence, our program offers hope for this species and this industry.  Our vision is far reaching and our returns are not immediate, but if like us, you like what you see on these pages and believe in what we are working towards, we invite you to contact us.  For this project to be successful, we will require the involvement of other breeders of great integrity to join us.

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A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?" "Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger. "No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold. - Ekhart Tolle


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