The Sunds, owners of the River's Edge Llama Ranch in Lexington NE are members of the Nebraska Llama Association: (visit link
"Tim & Debra Sund
Rivers Edge Ranch
From the Kearney NE hub: (visit link
Shaving llamas doesn't just make them look cool and yield wool - it also keeps them alive
By LORI POTTER
LEXINGTON - Girls and guys alike batted long eyelashes Monday on the way to a makeover. It was time to cut nails and hair that had grown long over the winter.
After Floyd Zopfi and his two-man Snip n Clip Llama Services crew from Wisconsin silenced their shears at T.L. and Deb Sund's Rivers Edge Ranch southeast of Lexington, 56 standard and miniature llamas had been trimmed for spring.
Some hairstyles made the unusual animals native to cool mountain areas of South America look strange.
Barrel cuts removed wool around the middle, often in one piece like a big blanket. Some also had tight trims around their long, skinny necks, but kept heavy wool leggings and pom-poms on top of their heads.
The lion cut for males removed wool from around their middles and reproductive parts. Some were sheared cleaner to eliminate mats.
Deb Sund said the only way llamas can keep cool during Nebraska's hot summers is to sweat from their bellies and armpits.
Spring work day at the ranch on the south side of Interstate 80 also included cutting the males' "fighting teeth." All llamas were vaccinated and given deworming medicine.
The Sunds' main business is construction. However, they've increased the time and attention they give to llama wool and breeding stock sales.
They brought their first llama home nine years ago from an exotic animal sale at Gothenburg. Deb said it was a spur-of-the moment purchase that followed an "isn't it cute" comment.
"We always say it's a hobby that went bad," T.L. joked.
As their love for llamas grew, their initial fascination turned into admiration for their llamas' personalities, intelligence and diverse abilities. "How many animals can you use as pets, as guard animals, for packing and for wool products?" Deb said.
Llamas are in the camel family and increasingly valued by cattle ranchers for their herding nature. "They'll take to a herd of cattle. Take a couple of males, or females, and they'll just adopt that herd …," T.L. said. "The people in Montana are buying llamas just for that purpose."
Deb now describes Rivers Edge Ranch along the Platte River, where they've lived for 12 years, as a llama ranch. They also have a few exotic birds, including peacocks.
Llamas were a novelty at first. "Then we started halter showing for composition and how well you work with them," Deb said. "That's how we started, at the Nebraska State Fair."
T.L. said they now go to an average of two shows a month during the summer show and sale season. They've sold llamas to breeders across the United States and into Canada.
On Saturday, they'll be at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Hastings for the non-grooming Husker Hobo Show. T.L. said that for most shows, grooming takes Deb five to six hours or more per llama.
Their grandchildren, two in Lincoln and one in Lexington, often lead Sund llamas in obstacle events that are a part of most shows.
Deb has enhanced the value of her llamas' wool by "felting" coarse-grade fibers into hats and other novelty items.
Some Sund llamas, including 5-year-old sire Uno, produce fine, silky wool valued for spinning. Deb learned to process it herself, rather than send it to a fiber mill, and now plans to dye the wool.
With her spinning wheel, she can make and sell finished yarn. Deb said she'll make more wool items to take to llama shows and sales to help promote their breeding stock.
In May, the Sunds' focus will be on their 2009 crop of about 20 cria (baby llamas). The gestation period for llamas is 11½ months, so the females have one pregnancy per year. T.L. said twins are rare.
Llamas generally live 16 to 18 years and males are in their prime from ages 4 to 12, T.L. said. They get most of their nutrition from grazing, with baled grass hay and just a little alfalfa added in the winter as a supplement. Llama pellets are served only as treats.
There are only about 800 miniature llamas registered in the United States, he said. The Sunds have 10 and are looking for a new miniature sire to replace one that died suddenly over the winter.
"Llamas are noted to be very healthy animals, until they aren't," T.L. said.
The Sunds will conduct a "llama trek" June 20 at which anyone can come to the ranch and walk a llama. "We'll walk them to the river and have a trek for an hour or two," Deb said, and then return for a meal and other events."