At what age do alpacas start breeding?

Females can be bred at around 18 - 24 months old. Female alpacas are induced ovulators (ovulation occurs 24 - 36 hours after breeding), This means they can be bred at any time during the year although spring matings are preferable as cria born in the spring, thrive much better and put on more weight than autumn births and winter births are generally avoided unless there is adequate provision and housing for pregnant females and newborns. The female ‘spits-off’ the stud male when she knows she is pregnant and will not allow him near her. Alpacas can be mated again 2-3 weeks after giving birth. Stud males will start work at about 2 - 3years.

How long is their gestation?

Alpacas have a gestation of about 11.5 months, although due dates are notoriously difficult to predict and alpacas have been known to give birth to healthy cria at 10 months or go as long as 12.5 months. They give birth to a cria which weighs about 6 to 8 kg. They tend to be born in day light in the late morning.

Do alpacas have problems giving birth?

Normal alpaca births are very quick and easy. Generally, labour will last about 15 - 30 minutes, but this can be quite variable. Most give birth in the morning, and in any case normally during daylight hours, unless there is a serious problem with the pregnancy. Crias weigh 15 to 20 lbs at birth and will usually stand to nurse within an hour.

Are alpacas good mothers?

Alpacas are typically excellent and attentive mothers and usually give birth with ease during daylight hours. Alpacas do not lick the newborns dry and cria have to be mobile and dry by nightfall or else they will not survive the first severe night 12,000 feet up in the Andes of their homeland.
Once the cria is on the ground the aunts, sisters and maidens come forward to inspect the new baby - literally humming encouragement to it. Twins are very rare indeed and generally will not survive. Cria are usually standing within half an hour and it is very important that the new born feeds as soon as possible to ensure that it receives vital colostrum from Mum. If the cria does not get enough colostrum then it has no future immunity to disease and will need a blood transfusion.

Do alpacas have multiple births?

The normal case is a single cria Twins are rare, and survival of twins is even rarer.

When are Cria Weaned?

Most cria are weaned around six months, although depending on the size and health of the cria they can be weaned earlier or later and it is also preferable to wean cria together so that the stress of being separated from mum is lessened.

Do I need to own my own alpaca stud male?

No and certainly in beginning it is good to leave your options open to pick and choose the best studs to suit your females. If you wish to breed to improve the quality of your alpaca herd, you will need access to a wider range of genetics that a single male alpaca could provide. Most big breeders have a wide selection of males and do discounts for multiple matings. Entire mature males also need to housed quite separately and securely from the females.