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The straight scoop ...
about breeding llamas
What is the soundest way to learn about llamas and breeding before deciding whether to make the investment and take the plunge?
Learning about llamas takes time. Although you can read everything in print and talk to a large number of people (both excellent ways to gain good information and horrible misinformation with no means to sort the two from each other), there is no substitute for hands-on experience.
A few nonbreeding llamas (geldings and/or spays) with basic training (or trained to pack, drive and/or show, if that is your interest) can provide you with volumes of invaluable education. It also helps you to solidify what you really like to do with llamas. Sometimes (often, actually) people find that the uses they really enjoy are nothing close to what they initially thought they wanted llamas for. Finding a direction you are sure you enjoy is a critical step that must precede gaining the knowledge and experience necessary for responsible and successful breeding.
Animal breeding is not as simple as mating your favorite male and female and making another one that just happens to get all your favorite features. A basic understanding of genetics, heritable traits in llamas and their modes of inheritance, ideals specific to a particular use, and prioritizing those goals in a manner that stacks the odds heavily in favor of sound, healthy, placeable llamas — even when a particular mating does not produce exactly what you are after — are all essential components of a successful breeding program that cannot be quickly learned or even easily understood. It will take even the most motivated individual many years of research, study, and scrutiny of successful llama and other animal breeding programs before "taking the plunge" becomes a good gamble rather than a bad risk.
Of course, there will always be those who leap right into making more llamas — in fact, that has historically been how both backyard and large-scale llama producers began (thanks to pressure from those who needed to sell). Look at what the multipliers started making and how those llamas are selling five and ten years later (they're hard to give away, and the bulk of rescues — once cleaned up — look just like 'em, folks!) if you have any doubts that waiting and self-educating is the responsible and intelligent way to go.