Breeding alpacas is somewhat easier than breeding large stock, such as horses, cattle and pigs, but it does take quite a bit of attention and good recordkeeping on your part. In this article, we discuss the many important considerations involved in breeding alpacas. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- Alpaca Breeding Is A Sensitive Matter
- Draw Up A Firm Business Plan
- Learn About Alpaca Behavior And Care
- Alpaca Breeding Requires Time And Patience
- Alpaca Pregnancy Q&A
- How Do You Handle Male Alpacas During Breeding?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Alpaca Breeding Is A Sensitive Matter
Unlike many animals, alpacas don’t have a specific season for breeding. Instead, female alpacas can be bred at any time of year as long as they are receptive. This is because they are introduced ovulators. This means that when they mate, ovulation is triggered.
Another unusual thing about alpaca breeding is that they tend to mate in a prone (cush) position. You can tell if the female is receptive or not because if she is not, she will not assume this position. Additionally, she may spit at the male. This action is termed “spit off”.
If your female alpaca does not seem to be receptive, you can reintroduce her to the male every couple of weeks until she is. When the time is right, she will refrain from spitting and will readily sit in the cush position. In response, the male will make a distinctive sound known as “orgling” and the mating will commence.
Alpaca Breeding Information: Basic Considerations
If you want to breed alpacas, there are quite a few things you must think about first. Begin by making certain you know exactly what you’re getting into. Get to know some established breeders and visit their farms to get a good idea of just what’s involved in alpaca breeding.
As you visit various alpaca breeders, compare their stock. This is a good time for you to decide where you want to purchase your first alpacas.
Draw Up A Firm Business Plan
Before you buy any animals, be sure that you are completely prepared. You’ll need to develop a business plan that takes all contingencies into account. You’ll also need to be certain that you have good housing and enclosures and a reliable feed supplier for your new animals.
Learn About Alpaca Behavior And Care
Don’t jump right into alpaca breeding without alpaca experience. Surprisingly, you may want to start out with a trio of castrated male alpacas (wethers). Even though these animals have no value as breeders, they can be very valuable in teaching you exactly what’s involved in caring for alpacas.
Wethers are typically inexpensive and easy to handle. You can learn the ropes by caring for these pleasant, smart, charming individuals. When you’re ready to buy breeding stock, you can continue to keep them as pets or rehome them.
Alpaca Breeding Requires Time And Patience
It takes a while for your stock to become mature enough to breed. Female alpacas are mature and ready to breed between one year and eighteen months of age. At this stage of life, they typically weigh about 95 pounds.
Before breeding your female alpaca for the first time, check with your vet to make sure that she is healthy, strong and has attained enough of her mature weight to be safely bred.
Alpaca Pregnancy Q&A
1. How long does a female alpaca stay pregnant?
It takes almost a year (11.5) months for a female alpaca to carry and birth her baby (cria). In some instances, gestation may actually take longer than twelve months.
2. When do alpacas give birth?
Birth usually occurs between the hours of nine in the morning and two in the afternoon. It is very unusual for a female alpaca to need assistance with the birth. Babies are typically born quickly and easily and are standing and nursing within an hour of being born.
3. Do you need to call the vet for an alpaca birth?
It’s a good idea to have your vet visit within twenty-four hours to examine the new mother and baby and check for any problems.
4. How many babies do alpacas have?
Alpacas tend to have one cria at a time. Typical birth weight is between 12 and 20 pounds. Twin births do happen occasionally, but they are extremely rare.
5. How long does it take to wean a cria?
Female alpacas are usually very good mothers and take great care to protect their babies. The cria should stay with its mother for five or six months before weaning is started.
When determining time for weaning, you must keep a close eye on the cria’s weight. The baby must weigh at least 60 pounds before being weaned. Of course, it must also be eating on its own easily.
6. How soon after birth can a mother alpaca be bred?
Even though gestation is very long, you can expect your female alpaca to be able to produce a baby annually. After giving birth, she should be receptive to re-breeding within 2 to 6 weeks.
How Do You Handle Male Alpacas During Breeding?
Male alpacas may seem to be sexually mature from a very young age, but in fact, they do not become fertile until they are over eighteen months old. It is normal for a male alpaca to remain immature until he is a couple of years old.
Just as with female alpacas, you should have your vet give your breeding male alpaca a checkup before his first breeding. He will need to have attained sufficient testicular growth, and his penis will need to be freed from any attachments. All of this usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 3 years.
Although a male alpaca can be kept with two females in pasture continuously for open, pasture breeding, it’s really better to maintain some control by keeping the males and females separate. Introduce the female to the male biweekly until meeting is successful.
This method helps reduce mating and rejection related injuries. It also ensures that you will know exactly when your female has been mated so that you can make appropriate plans for the birth.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is possible, but it’s not a good idea. You will not get usable fleece from this cross.
If you want to casually pasture breed your female alpacas, you can simply run a herd of ten females with a single, high quality male. It is possible for one male to service a larger number of females, but 10-1 seems to be the most manageable ratio.
The male may breed enthusiastically for the first few days, but then he runs out of steam. This may mean that females who didn’t manage to get pregnant during the initial rush may not get pregnant at all. For this reason, it’s better to run a manageable number of females with one male.
Alpaca “herd sires” are very territorial. Male alpacas will guard their females and their area. For this reason, unless you have very vast holdings, you should separate your alpaca herds with strong fencing and distance. If breeding males are only separated by fencing, they may spend so much time threatening each other through the fence that they will not get any breeding done.
Non-breeding males should be neutered and kept in bachelor herds. They will get along well, keep each other company and will not cause any trouble. If you do not neuter them, they may still get along with each other fine, but if there are breeding males nearby, trouble may ensue.