Welcome to Watertown Llamas in rural North Devon.
Rural North Devon is home to this happy herd of breeding female Llamas
is a small herd of around 50 llamas, including some of the very woolly
type known as Tampuli, and in particular, the wooliest llamas of all which
are called Lanudas.
I have been breeding llamas since 2004 and would like to introduce some of them to you !
Now , here comes THE BORING BIT .................
THE WATERTOWN LLAMAS MISSION STATEMENT !
Llamas originate from South America and their numbers in the UK are estimated to be around 5,000 of which about 50% are registered with The British Llama Society. Numbers have increased steadily over the last thirty years , but largely from the same limited gene pool. In the first half of the 19th century imported llamas came to the UK mainly for exhibition in zoos , but in 1843 Peru banned the exportation of live camelids (llamas and alpacas) , and were joined in this by Bolivia , Argentina and Ecuador. The Chilean government also joined the ban in the 1930`s and no further importations could be made until the ban was eventually lifted in the 1980`s.
Effectively, this meant that for the best part of a hundred and fourty years the very tiny national herd became increasingly at risk of inbreeding. Even once the ban had been lifted, the cost and the difficulty of importing from South America into the UK prevented new bloodlines from being introduced.
Fortunately for our llamas, the European demand for new genetics was strong enough for these countries to start importing camelids again, just at a time when some of the UK`s top llama breeders were beginning to run out of viable breeding options. It seemed like all the best breeding stock could be traced back somewhere along the line to just a handful of champion stud males, so something had to be done ! One of the pioneers amongst UK llama breeders in the last 20 years is undoubtedly Paul Rose of Roseland Llamas who led the way by bringing in new genes from many of these new European herds including llamas from Holland, France, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia ,Austria and even from Chile.
In autumn 2009 I went to Europe and selected five unrelated stud males from three breeders in Italy and Switzerland , and some very special female llamas who have now joined my herd . They have provided Watertown Llamas with many superb new bloodlines which are totally unrelated to any other llamas in the UK , and the first progeny of these newly imported llamas were born in 2011.
All this has come from a very inauspicious start …………….I bought a group of 10 wild un-handled neglected llamas of mixed ages and unknown parentage , practically RSPCA cases , whilst knowing nothing of llama husbandry , to keep in a field ten miles from where I lived. It wasn`t long however before my obsession with llamas took hold and as a result I moved to Watertown , a house with 20 acres, so that I could properly care for and enjoy my llamas on site.
My original 10 llamas taught me a great deal , and whilst they have all now moved on to lovely new homes they inspired me to see what else I can do for llamas in the UK. My very ambitious goal is to continue the work started by Paul Rose and others to widen the llama gene pool in the UK , and most specifically , to increase the numbers of wonderful woolly llamas in the national herd.