What is a Ccara Llama?
We often get asked, “What exactly is a Ccara llama?”, or “What does it mean to be a Ccara llama?”. Many people think that any llama that packs is considered a Ccara llama. Not all llamas are pack llamas, and not all pack llamas are considered Ccara llamas. To keep things simple, a Ccara llama is basically a working llama that possess certain traits that are outlined by the North American Ccara Association (NACA). I will go over these traits and the Ccara screening process later on…
If you have done any research on pack llamas you have probably learned about the ILR (International Lama Registry). The ILR is a llama registration database where you can see any registered llamas and alpacas (you must be a member to see this info). It is very important to have this database bloodlines can be tracked for breeding purposes.
The NACA has worked together with the ILR to create a formal recording program for the Ccara llama using a strict screening criteria. In order to become an official Ccara llama, the llama must be screened by one of the NACA Screeners. Once a llama has gone through the screening process and has passed, then that information will be posted on the llamas registration paperwork and on the ILR website.
Here is the registration information on one of our studs, Spot’s Ragnar. He has gone through the screening process and passed. You will notice his registration now says “CCARA” and it also lists his “Wither Height”, which is one of the traits that is evaluated during the screening process:
So what traits must a llama possess in order to successfully pass the Ccara screening process? You can see a copy of the Screening Score Sheet by going to the NACA website (www.ccarallama.com), or I will give an outline here.
The llama is awarded (or deducted) points based on the screeners evaluation. The max score is 50 points. The minimum qualifying score is 45 points. If the llama fails to score at least 45 points, then they fail the screening process and are not considered a Ccara llama. This scoring information has been taken from the NACA website:
The following are disqualifying traits if the llama doesn’t possess them:
- The llama must be registered with the ILR, at least 3 years old, and be at least 43″ tall at the withers (shoulders). If the llama doesn’t meet these criteria, they are disqualified.
- Front leg length must be at least 2″ more than the girth depth of the chest. Less is disqualified.
- The llama must show a distinct double coat, with a top layer of coarse guard hair and relatively short later of finer insulating fiber.
- The neck wool must be shed out at some point prior to screening.
- The llama must show reasonable conformation with no obvious anomalies or deformities (dropped pasterns are a disqualifier.)
Now the llama will be screened and scored based on the screeners opinion:
- Llama must show correct alignment of limbs with an overall trim athletic appearance. A narrow stance and a long, smooth free-moving stride is ideal. No obvious lateral rocking motion of the shoulders and neck as the llama walks. The neck length is approximately 2/3 the length of the back. (Max score 10)
- Llama has a relatively lean build and the spine can be easily felt. Back slopes down at an approximately 45° angle from each side of the spine (upside down “V” shape). Overweight or underweight llamas have no place as a working llama. (Max score 5)
- Topline (back) is relatively level. (Max score 5)
- The llama walks with no obvious deviation of the legs and feet from the midline as it travels. (Max score 5)
- Pasterns are strong and relatively short and upright. (Max score 5)
- Well-developed muscling is apparent in the forearms and at the attachment of the front legs to the chest when viewing the llama from the front, and on the inner thighs when view from behind. (Max score 5)
- Feet are of adequate size and configuration to support the llama. (Max score 5)
- Head gives the appearance of alertness with widely spaced eyes, longish erect ears, a straight profile when viewed from the side and correct jaw alignment with lower incisors meeting in the upper dental plate. Head demonstrates bilateral symmetry when viewed from the front. (Max score 5)
- Llama exhibit a calm demeanor when approached by humans. (Max score 5)
The screener will judge the llama based on these traits. The screener is looking for very specific traits and if the llama does not possess them, then points will be deducted from their score. After going through the score sheet, the points will be totaled. If the llama scores at least 45 points, then it will pass the screening process. If the llama fails, it may be screened again at another date.
At Backcountry Logistics our goal is to breed Ccara llamas that will easily pass the screening process. When first purchasing llamas this may seem like a daunting task, but after years of experience it has almost become second nature to find llamas that will pass the NACA screening process.
Not all llamas that pass the screening process are great pack llamas, and surely some llamas that don’t pass the screening process can be great pack llamas. But this scoring sheet is a great reference for some ideal traits to look for when purchasing a pack llama.
If you have any questions about the screening process, our breeding program, or anything related to the Ccara registry, please send us a message or give us a call!