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Llama vs Sheep (6 Key Differences)

Llamas and sheep are two different species. The main differences between the two include:

  • Sheep are ovine, while llamas are camelid species
  • Sheep are calmer than llamas
  • Difference in fur
  • Size difference (Llamas are larger)
  • Sheep are bred for meat, wool, and milk, llamas are bred for wool primarily
  • They come from different places

These are the main differences between llamas and sheep. The underlying difference here is that they are essentially different species and thus, you’ll find many differences between the two. However, there are also some similarities that might confuse some people and make them think they’re similar, such as overall appearance and their herding behavior.

Llama vs Sheep

Differences Between Llamas and Sheep

Here are the key differences between llamas and sheep.

1. Sheep are Ovine, Llamas are Camelid

The first and most obvious difference is that these two animals are essentially completely different species. Sheep are ovine species, which means they belong to the family called Bovidae, while llamas belong to the family of Camelidae. This, in itself, means that these two animals are vastly different.

In this sense, llamas are more similar to camels rather than sheep. While they still display herding behavior and are quite social, much like sheep, it also means that they don’t have the same character and characteristics as sheep.

These underlying differences in the family of animals and the species make sheep and llamas inherently different. This key difference means that sheep and llamas are different in terms of character and behavior, as well as physical appearance and traits.

2. Sheep are Generally Calmer

You’ll find that one of the main differences between llamas and sheep is in their behavior as well as their temperament. Namely, sheep are thought of as being more peaceful and calmer than llamas, who can be more aggressive at times. 

This comes down to the nature of both of these two animals. In essence, llamas are seen as having a role of a protector, while sheep rely heavily on their herd. They like the presence of other sheep around and are much more comfortable with being with other sheep, while llamas can fend for themselves.

As a result, llamas can have a slightly more aggressive character, which is seen in common attacks against humans. If you come too close to a llama or you unnerve it, then it’s likely to kick you or even spit in your face. It’s also common for llamas to spit in other llamas.

However, even sheep can sometimes be aggressive. This can especially be said about rams, who will use their horns to headbutt other rams as well as other animals or even humans that come too close. 

3. Wool Differences

One of the main differences between sheep and llamas is their wool.

There are many different sheep breeds as well as llama breeds. Llamas have a long coat but with a very thick undercoat, which makes them perfect for creating garments and other types of products made of wool. The outer coat of llama is often used for creating rugs and other similar garments.

Sheep wool is historically one of the oldest types of wool in the world. Throughout history, it was one of the most crucial components and later developed into an industry during the industrial revolution. Compared to llama fur, sheep fur is much thicker and slightly shorter, but this will depend on the sheep breed.

Both animals are used for wool, though. However, they produce different types of wool that is used for different purposes.

4. Llamas are Larger

In general, llamas tend to be larger and taller than sheep. A typical llama can grow to up to 5’7” in size, while a sheep will be much shorter than that – only about 4’2”. 

The main feature that makes llamas seem taller is their neck. They have extremely long necks, which is a feature that is passed down from their Camelidae family of animals. In general, the size difference will be one of the first differences that you’ll notice between llamas and sheep.

5. Purpose

Both animals are bred for different purposes, but they also have some similarities. Both animals are bred for their wool, but sheep can have a slightly wider variety of uses than a llama.

Obviously, it will also depend on the sheep breed as well as the llama breed. Most sheep breeds are at least adequate for producing wool, although some sheep breeds are bred for their other products. Most commonly, many sheep are revered for their high-quality meat, while others are great for milk and dairy products that come from it.

Some of the best sheep breeds for milk include East Friesan sheep, Lacaune, and Awassi sheep. 

On the other hand, llamas are primarily bred for their wool, but they also can produce milk. Llama meat, though, is not very popular or desired. Lamb meat is much more popular and as a consequence, it can be a bit more expensive than other types of meat. Some sheep are bred primarily for their meat.

Lastly, some farmers will also breed their sheep for profit. They will sell their lambs or their sheep for profit, while this is also seen with llamas, just not to such an extent as it is seen with sheep.

6. Place of Origin

Lastly, one minor difference between sheep and llamas is their origins. 

Sheep come primarily from parts of Europe such as France, Germany, the UK, Spain, and other parts of the Old Continent. They also stem from Asia and other parts of the world. 

Llamas, on the other hand, come from the grassland areas of South America. They were domesticated by the European settlers that came from Europe as well as those who were already native to South America, such as Peru.

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Conclusion

Sheep and llamas might have a somewhat similar appearance, but they are essentially different species. There are many differences between these two animals. They also share some similarities, but in the end, they are quite different.

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