Home Reproduction
The female alpaca will produce one cria (baby alpaca) per year and can be bred from around 14 to 18 months of age or at 110 pounds. Males begin breeding between 2 and 3 years of age. It is recommended that breeding take place during the spring and fall months so that birthing occurs during ideal weather conditions. The heat of the summer and the freezing temperature in the winter could create complication with mother and/or cria. The gestation period is approximately 11 months and birthing is remarkably quick and trouble free. To make things easier for the alpaca farmer, alpacas almost always give birth during daylight hours. All our cria have been born between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM!
Alpacas do not come into heat. Females are induced ovulators and can be bred year round. For this reason, males and females should be kept separately until breeding is desired. Females may be rebred as early as 12 - 14 days after delivering. Alpacas are devoted and protective mothers. Most cria will nurse until about five or six months of age when either the mother starts to wean her cria or when we intervene and separate crias from mothers.  
Farmers may use selective breeding methods or field breeding. In selective breeding, the male is put with the female in a small breeding area. Receptive females will cush immediately so this is a good way to test whether or not a female is pregnant or not as well. Pregnant females will run, kick, and spit at the male. Field breeding is when the male is put in with a group of females (that the breeder wants bred to that particular male), until they may all be confirmed pregnant. Breedings can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.

There are many ways to confirm pregnancy. The most reliable way is by ultrasound (transrectal) and can be performed by a skilled vet as early as 7-9 days post-mating. Progesterone analysis is a blood test which measures the concentration of progesterone. This test can be done 15-21 days after mating and the progesterone will be above 2ng/ml and stay above 2ng/ml on subsequent testings. The easiest and cheapest way for the breeder to test for pregnancy is to put a male in a separate pen with the female. This can be done at 7, 15, 21, or 30 days post-mating. If the female is continually non-receptive, she is most likely pregnant.

There are three stages of labour:

Stage One

This stage can last 2-6 hours. The female may separate herself from the herd, spend much time over the dung pile, hum, and appear restless and uncomfortable. The cervix relaxes and the fetus gets positioned in the birth canal.

Stage Two

Stage two usually takes 30-60 minutes. The female will get up and down repeatedly and contractions increase to expel the fetus. The head and forelegs should be the first to appear. Some females will deliver standing up and others in the cush position.

Stage Three

The placenta is usually expelled 10 minutes to 2 hours after birth. Cria will almost immediately make attempts at standing on all fours and should be nursing within 30-60 minutes after birth.

Normal cria weight is 12-20 lbs and gain approximately ½ lb /day doubling their birth weight by one month of age. Meconium, the first feces a cria will pass, should be expelled within 24 hours and is a yellowish /brownish colour.
Last Updated ( Friday, 04 July 2008 07:52 )