Storey’s Guide To Raising Llamas, by Gale Birutta
This book is an all-business look at raising llamas. In fact, as part of a series of books that deals with farming, this particular series has established a reputation as being a no-nonsense look at the logistics of raising animals. It’s not devoid of personality by any means, as any book about llamas that discusses the way that the animals behave is not going to lack for personality, but at the same time this is not a book that is going to focus on how humorous its stories are or how much it wins over the reader with a great deal of heartwarming and sympathetic tales. No, this book and others like it are written for those who are unsentimental about how they need to take of animals to make a decent living as farmers raising animals. In reading this book I was led to think of the rather unsympathetic but shrewd nature of my paternal grandmother as a farmer, as that was an attitude she appeared to have gained from generations of being family farmers of considerable local importance. If this sort of professional approach is appealing to you, and you want to know more about llamas and what it takes to raise them, this book comes with a recommendation. Just be aware of what you are in for, that is all.
This book is about 300 pages long and is divided into two parts and fifteen chapters with various supplementary materials. After a foreword the first part of the book discusses getting started with raising llamas (I). This part includes an introduction to llamas and their background (1) as a domestic animal in the United States, how to go about buying one’s first llama(s) (2), and how to deal with the logistics of nutrition and feeding (3), the importance of having the right facilities and equipment (4), and the importance of preserving the health of one’s llamas (5). There are also chapters on the herd sire (6), dam (7), crias and young llamas (8), as well as the importance of genetics, breeding, and herd management (9). The second part of the book discusses llamas as a business (II), and contains chapters on starting and building one’s business (10), gaining an income from showing (11) as well as using showing as a means of supporting one’s other business ventures, packing (12), selling fleece and making textiles from it (13), creating and marketing organic fertilizer (14), and training llamas as livestock guardians (15). There is a postscript on always having llamas, a glossary, and appendices on associations and organizations (i), suppliers (ii), and other resources (iii), acknowledgements, an index, information about the author, and a look at other books in the series.
Indeed, this book is emblematic of the divide that exists in books about llamas or indeed animals as a whole. Books that seek to provide an understanding of animals and their behavior and origins and all of that tend to be focused on children. Books about animals written for adults tend to be focused on matters of business or other agendas. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, as adults tend to read for far more practical and self-serving aims and this book is a demonstration that among those aims is the desire to be well-off and successful as a farmer. If farming is not necessarily a common profession, hobby farming as a supplement to one’s existence is common enough that this book and a whole series as well as numerous other volumes exists. And I have to respect the approach that this book takes in being honest about the struggle to know how to raise llamas and why it is that llamas are so good at certain tasks and how it is to raise them from childhood and train them properly to avoid behavioral difficulties that they get from being spoiled brat crias. And all of that is definitely information that someone would need to know about llamas in order to take care of them.