Good questions. For a moment, let's look at miniature llamas versus full-sized llamas.
Miniature llamas are exquisite jewels - perfect little replicas of the full-size variety. There are requirements that have been set forth by the American Miniature Llama Association (AMLA) to which llamas must adhere in order to be classified "Miniature". AMLA requires minis measure no more than 38" at the withers (that's at the top of the shoulders). However, a female may be classified as "breeding stock" miniature, if she measures no more than 40". This smaller version llamas also weighs approximately half that of a full-sized llama.
All this translates into the fact that miniature llamas eat a lot less than their counterparts. That's always a good thing. It cuts down a great deal on llama grain grocery shopping costs. It also means smaller acreage is still sufficient to enjoy these regal animals. As a matter of fact, six - or more - miniature llamas can have enough room and foraging on just one acre. You can't fit that many full-sized llamas on that small a piece of land and have them comfortable with with enough grazing. A miniature llamas costs as much to feed as a large dog...and, as far as we know, dogs don't act as lawnmowers! You can put your mowing days behind you except for those few times when you want every blade of grass to be perfectly trimmed or if you find mowing relaxing.
Obviously, smaller animals need smaller shelters (run-ins are perfect) and; for transporting, you can get a lot more miniature llamas into the same trailer that would hold only a few full-sized llamas. All of this adds up to less money spent on your miniature llamas, unless you want to take your savings and buy another mini or two!
More reasons for miniatures...well, grooming and handling them is easy for small children, smaller adults as well as older people...They certainly are less intimidating than full-sized llamas. After all, you can look them right in their beautiful eyes even if you're 5'2"...you can't do that will a full-sized llama!
You won't find disproportional, barrel chested, large headed, short, stocky legged animals as miniature llamas - unlike so many miniature horses you see. No, these little beauties are perfectly proportioned. Their large, expressive eyes ringed with long eyelashes are therapeutic - along with their gentle temperament.
Llamas are highly intelligent; the most intelligent of all livestock animals. Because llamas generally defecate in communal areas, clean up is easy. (P. S. All llama manure is fertilizer 'gold' You can put it directly on your gardens and it won't burn the plants. Just be sure to add a weed inhibitor as there will be many weeds to contend with otherwise.) In addition, because of llamas' cleanliness, they are wonderful animals to use in hospital setting, nursing homes, schools and with people who have disabilities...you name it, mini llamas can be used for a variety of 'good works'. Miniature llamas can get into places full-sized ones might not be as welcomed, simply because of their larger size. We even know people who bring their minis into their homes and don't have to worry about the proverbial "bull in a china shop". Miniature llamas take up very little space, inside your house...and outside.
Miniature llamas can be used as pack animals. Oh, no they cannot carry as much as a full-sized llama (here's that liability about which you wondered) but, depending on their size, they can be a great help carrying gear when you go hiking, on a picnic, walking the beach (Yes...walking the beach!) or just exercising (even a very mini miniature can carry your water bottles!)
Miniature llamas can't pull buggies as full-size llamas do (Darn...another liability), but that's a whole different venture, and you just wanted some basics of why miniatures instead of full-sized llamas, isn't that correct? However, just like their full-sized cousins, they can be used as guard animals...even keeping coyotes at bay. Their warning sound is similar to to that of a goose honking. Now that will get your attention!
Above all, there's nothing like wrapping your arm around a beautiful and wooly miniature llama who give you kisses and takes treats, ever so carefully and daintily, from even the littlest child's fingers. Llamas are wonderful; miniature llamas are almost to good to be true.
Ray & Pat Drury
The Very Little Llama Farm
83 Blue Bird Lane
Staunton, VA 24401