Miniature llamas are unique entry at Fillmore County Fair
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:05 AM
Raising and showing a unique breed is something the Marquardt family from rural Mabel enjoys doing. The family raises mini llamas and 11-year-old Tanner will be showing three of them at the Fillmore County Fair this week.
Tanner Marquardt of Mabel, a member of the Mabel Busy Bees 4-H Club, is shown with his three miniature llamas that he is showing at the Fillmore County Fair this week. SUBMITTED PHOTO
A few years ago, Tanner and his mom, Sheri, thought mini llamas would be good to raise and sell because they are novelty animals.
So, along with dad, Jason, they purchased three llamas, two were pregnant and thus began their experiences with mini llamas. These two babies born on their farm are two of the mini llamas Tanner will be showing at the fair this week. The third llama he will show was purchased as an addition to their flock.
According to the American Miniature Llama Association (AMLA) website, “Male and female llamas that measure 38 inches or less at the withers (where the neck and the back connect) at three years of age or older and are registered with the International Lama Registry (ILR) may be registered as a mini llama with the AMLA.”
“There is a considerable height difference at the back and head in the regular and miniature llama,” commented Jason. “Minis are bred mini to mini to try and continue to produce minis.”
The miniature llamas are Tanner’s responsibility — he feeds them twice a day as well as works with them for about one hour each day. The llamas eat hay, oats and minerals that Ellingson Elevator makes especially for them.
The AMLA website states that miniature llamas work well on small acreages because of their size and they are easier to handle when doing routine health care. “Historically, llamas were bred as beasts of burden and the miniature llama is no exception,” the website noted. “They cannot carry as much as a large standard llama, but they can easily carry 10 pounds in a pack, making them perfect companions on the hiking trail. “
The Marquardts are hoping to grow interest in miniature llamas by showing them at the fair. Tanner is the only one showing miniature llamas right now, but they hope when more people see them, more 4-H members will have interest in this unique breed.
This year’s llama show will be Friday at 3 p.m.
As part of the llama show, Tanner will be judged on showmanship — he’ll be interviewed by two judges without his animals with him.
He will also lead them in the show ring where he and the llamas will be judged. The final part will be leading them through an obstacle course.
“Llamas have bad depth perception,” explained Jason. “Taking them through the obstacles shows they have trust for their handler.”
Part of the obstacle course is an “open” tunnel that is constructed of PVC pipe. At another part, Tanner will have the llama put its feet in a hula hoop and then he will maneuver the hula hoop completely over the animal’s body to the opposite end. He will also have the animals jump and weave through cones. A bit more challenging part is having them walk across a tarp on the ground; it is challenging to the llama due to their poor depth perception.
Tanner also spends time grooming the llamas. Llama “fur” is called fiber. Grooming and washing the llamas in preparation for the fair takes time as their fiber mats and they often have burrs in them from the pasture. The fiber can be cut and used to make clothing, similar to uses for wool; however, the llama fiber is softer.
“It has been fun and challenging learning about the llamas,” commented Jason. “Every morning I have to hug them or they get ‘mad’ at me and make their clucking noise!”
Tanner is a member of the Mabel Busy Bees 4-H Club. Along with showing the three llamas, he will also be showing three sheep he has raised.
He enjoys showing both animals and is hoping that more people will become interested in raising miniature llamas, too.