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Mating in alpacas

Alpacas do not have seasons as they are induced ovulators; thought to be brought into ovulation by the act of mating. Therefore, it is important to manage mating times effectively here in the UK to avoid winter births & plan for spring births. Cria born in Spring and Summer gain weight faster (usually weighing 35-45KG at weaning) than those born in autumn (weighing 21-26KG at weaning).

Females can be mated as soon as 3 weeks after giving birth, when they are at the most receptive. The recommended approach to breeding alpacas is pen mating, which sees the male coming to the female for mating only. This can be done with your own stud quality males (bear in mind housing logistics) or by requesting stud services of another alpaca breeder. The pen mating method places the female inside an approx 3X3m pen & brings the male to her on a headcollar and lead rope. Mating occurs, usually lasting around 15 - 20 minutes. Females sit in a 'cush' position (sat down with their legs folded underneath them) and the stud male covers the female from the rear. The stud 'sings' to the female during the mating, also known as 'orgling'. As females have often recently given birth, their cria will be in the pen with them.

Pregnancy & birth in alpacas

How do you know if an alpaca is pregnant?

A ‘spit off’ is the term used for a method of pregnancy determination using behavioural testing. In simple terms, a male is presented to the female and if she sits, she is not pregnant, but if she turns & spits at the male, she is usually pregnant! This behavioural testing is accurate around 85% of the time. Otherwise, ultrasound scanning is possible from 60+ days. Further information on how to carry out successful matings and pregnancy testing can be found in our E-Guide or, if you intend to build a business around breeding alpacas, we can highly recommend Claire Whitehead's Camelid Reproduction & Cria Care course for in depth training on everything from common infertility issues to how to correct malpresentation of cria during labour. 


How long are alpacas pregnant for?

Alpacas are pregnant for an average of 343 days (11.5 months) but can vary between 320 - 375 days!

What time of day do alpacas give birth?

Due to their origins in the mountainous regions of South America with cold, dark nights, alpacas usually give birth during the morning, which gives the cria enough time to dry out before nightfall. This is especially important as alpacas do not lick their young when born, which often speeds up the drying process in other animals. 

What do you call it when an alpaca gives birth?

An alpaca giving birth is known as an ‘unpacking’.


How many babies does an alpaca have?

It is normal for a female alpacas give birth to one baby, which is called a cria. Twin alpacas are very rare.


Do alpacas need assistance when birthing?

Alpacas rarely need assistance during birthing and usually prefer to do it when you are not looking! However, if a female looks like she is in pain or your instinct tells you something is wrong, call the vet immediately. Special attention should be given to maiden females (first time mums) as her birthing history is yet unknown. 

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Learn How To Look After Alpacas

If you wish to embark on the rewarding journey of alpaca keeping, whether as newcomers to the field or prospective owners, and you desire to possess the confidence and knowledge to maintain their optimal health, your search concludes here! Choose from the learning opportunities below, which have been crafted to provide you with a wealth of alpaca husbandry knowledge and understanding. This foundation will ensure a successful and fulfilling alpaca venture.

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