SMITHILLS Open Farm served up their own little miracle on Christmas Day with the arrival of a baby llama.

Born to three-year-old Parsnip, the as-yet-unnamed 'cria' (Spanish for baby), was born at the family-run farm at around lunchtime on December 25 and mother and baby are said to be doing well.

"We knew nothing about it." laughed farmer Carl Grimshaw. "Llamas tend to be like that - they show no sings of being in labour and then five minutes later they'll be a baby on the floor.

"They have babies all year around and have a gestation period of 11.5 months so they are not like cows, sheep or pigs when you can tell when they are going to give birth."

Despite the time of the year there were plenty of staff on hand to help Parsnip.

"Llamas are pretty good," said Carl. "It's not very often we've had difficulties with a llama birth. All the farm staff were in to look after the animals and had just reached the top barn when they noticed a baby among all the adult llamas. It was a pleasant surprise for them but I was at my mother-in-laws so they rung me to let me know."

Originating in South America, llamas can live up to 30 years and weigh between 130 and 200 kilos. They can reach 6ft in height and are herbivorous animals that love grass.

"The latest arrival makes it 16 llamas we have on the farm," said Carl. "They can withstand both hot and cold temperatures and are pretty hardy animals. They are my favourite animal we have on the farm and just dead easy to look after. They are friendly too and love visitors coming up to them and feeding them."