LLAMA FARMER: Shane Hancock, alongside partner Darren, runs The Llama Farm from their Pine Mountain property. The couple have opened their farm up to the public.
LLAMA FARMER: Shane Hancock, alongside partner Darren, runs The Llama Farm from their Pine Mountain property. The couple have opened their farm up to the public. Rob Williams

Get up close and personal with state's largest llama herd

A LOVE of llamas that blossomed at a summer camp in America 25 years ago has only grown stronger for a teacher turned farmer and he wants to share his passion with as many people as he can.

Shane Hancock and partner Darren run The Llama Farm on their Pine Mountain property, which is home to the largest herd in Queensland.

Mr Hancock said there were only an estimated 2500 llamas in the whole country, compared to about 250,000 alpacas, but they were "very on trend" at the moment.

He bought his first llama six years ago, and agisted at a friend's place in Purga, before moving to his current home a year later.

All of the different llama fleece types, including the mop-like Suri, are represented on the farm which borders the Brisbane River.

The 75 llamas are joined by donkeys, goats, miniature ponies, peacocks, turkeys, guinea fowl and watched over by Lucy and Lola the maremmas.

"Llamas aren't a commodity livestock so they're not traded like other livestock," he said.

"They're basically a hobby or boutique livestock so people have them like they would a horse or a dog. Alpacas are farmed commercially for fleece and now the meat industry. Llamas will never get to that point.

"Llamas have really peaked in the last six months. Anyone with small children knows that there's now llama story books, clothing, toys and home decorations. They're a bit of a trendy thing."

Mr Hancock, who works as deputy principal at Leichhardt State School, said the most common question he is asked about his animals is if they spit.

"They spit at each other as a form of communication but it's very rare for a llama to want to spit at a person," he said.

"The public perception is quite misguided. They're just an endearing animal."

They have opened up the farm for tours on weekends and school holidays to get people up close and personal with life on the farm and the animals on it.

Punters can feed the animals and take as many selfies as they please, walk a llama on a circuit of the property and kids can get involved in the 'little llama farmers' school holiday program.

When dry conditions subside and green grass returns, the chance to book a picturesque picnic spot will also be offered.

"Our animals are basically extensions of our family," Mr Hancock said.

"Nothing on our farm is eaten. Everything we have here lives its life naturally on the farm."

Bookings are essential to tour the farm and can be done via The Llama Farm Facebook and Instagram pages.

Mr Hancock has a 15-year association with Australia Zoo as a volunteer and is an ambassador for the zoo.

One of his llama's is named after Bindi Irwin's fiancé Chandler.



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