The straight scoop about breeding:
Fiber llamas

What is most essential about a good fiber llama?

Good fiber! Specifically, desirable-quality fiber over as much of the body, shoulder, neck and flanks, as much as is possible. An amenable disposition coupled with handleability is also welcome, but because putting llamas in restraints of some kind once a year for shearing is considered "normal" by most, good disposition and training are usually appreciated after a sale rather than being selling points or shopping criteria.

Who buys a fiber llama?

Handspinners, fiber artists, and back-to-the-landers who all want to try raising their own natural fiber.

What do fiber llamas sell for?

Not much — typically a few hundred dollars (which doesn't cover typical production expenses).

A fiber llama with a good-quality fleece can be expected to produce $350-$500 worth of fiber in its lifetime and will cost a minimum of $150 average per year to feed and maintain (if nothing goes wrong) — and that doesn't even take the purchase price into account. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that fiber llamas can be terrific for a hobbyist who loves both his/her craft and tending animals, but they're not a moneymaker for a breeder.

Ethical considerations specific to breeding fiber llamas

Because the showring has made garment-quality fiber production the primary criterion for halter llamas, there is a surplus of fine-fibered animals already available.

An additional consideration is that a llama's fiber production declines with age. A typical llama may be shorn yearly until around age 11-12, then yield a similar amount every two years (whether shorn yearly or alternate years, climate permitting). Fleece also becomes coarser with age. A typical, adequate young fiber llama will cease to produce desirable fleece with a third of his or her life remaining ... while continuing to eat, require care (including shearing!) and take up pasture space . Unless this llama is also a stellar companion or guard,he or she is vulnerable to neglect or worse.

Is there room for more fiber llama breeders?

Perhaps in the more distant future, but the recent exponential increase in alpacas and alpaca breeders coupled with fallen-to-earth alpaca prices added to the existing abundance of nicely-fibered "showing" washouts seriously limits fiber llamas sales opportunities. The llama disposition undeniably appeals to some people over alpacas, and llamas (because of their size) are more successful guards (fiber production and guarding are quite compatible uses). However, either of these niches are more economically filled by selecting from among the many inexpensive llamas on the market.