Breeding

It is important to keep in mind that this is a blood-stock industry, not part of the food industry. We are breeding to improve the quality of the herd, the conformation of the animals and, above all, the quality of the fleece, not just to get animals on the ground. Conformation and fleece are both important. To have a top animal whose progeny are valuable and sought after, and whose fleece makes the top prices, you need the highest possible score for both fleece and conformation. Ideally you should start with a good female and then breed her and her offspring up to a top stud male so that the cria gradually improve further in quality. Alternatively you can buy a less expensive female and still breed up, it will just take longer. Either way the quality of the stud male is important. There is a lot to look for in an animal. Conformation factors include body proportions, the straightness of the legs, walk and stance, details of face, ears, eyes and teeth. Fleece characteristics include handle, texture, crimp, colour, brightness, fineness and uniformity. Health and the ability to breed are also important. These and other factors should be taken into account when breeding, when selecting both females and the the stud male. This is why we run "Hands-On" days to help people choose their animals. Examples of our stud males:

Breeding

[SD = standard deviation. CV = coefficient of variance]. Walter, a pure white Peruvian Huacaya, with excellent fleece characteristics. 25.7 microns; SD = 4; CV = 18.3; %>30 microns = 12.2% at 7 years old Simon, a medium fawn Peruvian Huacaya has similar characteristics 24.2 microns; SD = 24.2; CV = 20.8; %>30 microns = 6.4 at 6 years Rapunzal's Mate (RM) a multi-coloured (cream to honey) Peruvian Suri 22.9 microns; SD=5.7; CV = 24.7; %>30 microns = 9.6 at 3 years RM has fathered excellent pure white and medium brown cria from white and brown females.

Mating

Alpacas are induced ovulators, ovulating only after mating, and so can be mated at any time. They are generally presented to the male two or three weeks after giving birth, thus the female may be pregnant for most of her life. However the foetus remains small for most of the pregnancy and is not a stress on the adult. Mating takes place sitting down. Ovulation usually occurs within 26 hours. The female is normally run with or presented to the male a second time, 12 days later, but will refuse him if she is already pregnant. The female's first mating can occur at about 14 months or when they reach a weight of 45kgs or 65% of their expected body weight. A maiden should never be forced on her first time but they tend to sit as soon as they are ready. 

Conception:
Matings do not always achieve conception, (thought to be due to their unusual sequence of mating followed by ovulation)  and it may take several repeats before a femal becomes pregnant.

Testing for pregnancy

 There are two methods of testing a female for pregnancy. 

  1. Behaviour, when presented to a male.
  2. Scanning.

Scanning is a specialised business.  We have found that scanning by the majority of local scanners is often unreliable.   There are three possibilities:

a)      The female sits for a male:  she is ‘empty’ and ready for mating.

b)      The female refuses a male and scanning shows her to be pregnant:  pregnancy is established.

c)      The female refuses a male but scanning does not detect a foetus: the diagnosis is uncertain

In the latter case you have two options:

  1. Wait and see if she continues to refuse the male, or , in time, gives birth.
  2. Give a hormone treatment to induce her to accept the male.  However this would induce a miscarriage if she was indeed pregnant

 We do not follow the second option, thinking it not to be in the best interest of the animal.  As a result we now rely totally on the behaviour of the female to determine pregnancy.  In general we ‘test’ the females against a male several times throughout the year.

Pregnancy
Gestation is approximately eleven to eleven and a half months and one cria is produced. It is extremely rare for twins to be born, approximately one in every 2,000 to 5,000 births, and they rarely survive.  If the female is stressed during the pregnancy, particularly during the early phase, she may resorb (rather than abort) the foetus.  There may be no obvious sign of this and so you are advised to check the femal at intervals, usually be presenting her to a male.  

Birthing

It is a good idea to keep females who are about to give birth close to the house so they can be observed. However birthing is generally straightforward and needs little human intervention. The young are usually born in daylight hours, generally in the morning or early afternoon, giving them the rest of the day to adjust before the harsh Andean night falls. Most births are easy and managed without human assistance. The cria generally weighs between 6 and 9 Kgs, is born front legs and head first and is up, walking and feeding within an hour or so. Ideally birthings should occur from late spring to summer with shearing done a couple of months ahead of births. From time to time an animal will ‘slip’ a year when she gives birth too late in the year to allow time for successful mating to ensure a warm weather birth for the next offspring. She can then be mated a few months later in the following spring. Aftercare The mothers are devoted to their young and care for them well. Lactation usually lasts for six months, at which time the cria are weaned. You may want to weigh the young cria at birth and at regular intervals to monitor their progress.

Breeding

News and Sale

Gelded (non-breeding) alpcasa for protection from foxes
more...
Come and visit - Saturday evening September 23rd
more...
Shearing in June 17th or 18th
more...
Shearing 1
Shearing 1
more...
Our Alpaca Shop
more...