Wild guanaco inhabit lowland to mountain areas of South America, from the Atacama desert in the north to Patagonia in the south. This suggests their high adaptability to extreme fluctuations in temperature not only seasonally, but also daily. Withers height is variable depending on the location and varies individually, but is usually about 100 cm. Weight of guanacos is up to 130- 150 kg. Females are more subtle. Their fur is very soft and provides them with excellent thermoinsulation. Natural hair color on body is maroon with a creamy shade on the belly and the inside of the legs. Those parts are less hairy and it helps to cool body in case of necessary expenditures. This ‘thermal gate’ can be simply restricted in recumbent position. In wild they have seasonal reproduction, but in captivity are born all year round. Gestation lasts 11- 12 months. Males defend territories from spring to autumn, which prevents a group of females from access to other males. Male chases away also his grown-up offspring’s. In its territory animals excrete on specific places called ‘latrines’, which can change dynamically during year. This places serve for olfactory communications between individuals in the territory, but also outside it. Simultaneously defecation reduces the risk of spread of gastrointestinal parasites. Life expectancy is between 20- 30 years. The oldest female at our facilities was born June 14, 1991, and still deliver calve annually.
Guanaco is the wild ancestor of the llama, which differs in larger size, variation of coat color and tame manner. Domestication of guanaco dates back to the period of approximately 4 to 5 thousand years BC. Both of these species are close relatives to other South American camelids as wild vicuna, from which alpaca was domesticated. All camelids are well adapted to life in arid areas and poor fibrous vegetation (high dietary fiber content) that utilize more effectively than sheep. Native South Americans kept them mainly to carry loads, for meat, milk, wool, as well as the production of fuel in the form of dried dung. Collection of dung is easy, because llamas defecate in specific places in their territory.
Nutrition and production
Guanaco is very modest and adaptable ruminant to various pastures quality. They browse as well. In terms of higher demands for fiber content, hay is provided all year round. Concentrated feed with easily accessible nutrients, which includes dry bread, could cause digestive problems to them. All animals borne at farm has been used so far primarily to expand breeding stock and for sale to other breeders. In South America, however, the production and consumption of meat is very common due to the low fat in the muscle which makes this meat suitable for drying. The first slaughter of young non breeding males will start when capacity of breeding facility completes.