Firstly, you should familiarise yourself with the following alpaca breeding terminology:
Hembra/Dam = female
Macho/Sire/Stud = working male
Gelding = castrated male
Unpacking = giving birth
Cria = baby alpaca
Spit off = alpaca pregnancy test
The minimum requirements for a female to go to the stud are that she must be at least 12 months old and have reached at least 65% of the weight of her mother. However, it is usually recommended that the female should be 18 months to 2 years of age before putting her to the stud, so she is fully grown. Studs are not usually effective until they are around 3 years old, when the penis has become fully detached from the prepuce (foreskin). However, this can sometimes occur sooner; therefore, young males should be separated from females when they reach 10 months of age to prevent accidental pregnancies.
Selecting studs is arguably more important than selecting the females because of the number of cria a single male can sire in a year compared to just the one cria a dam will produce. Conformation (the shape and structure of the alpaca) should be at the top of your list to look at when choosing an alpaca, as this will indicative of the alpaca's general health, longevity and breeding potential, with fleece being another important factor to consider. Check out the British Alpaca Society's full breed standard here for a well rounded list of what constitutes as good quality alpaca.
Studs should NEVER be kept together in the company of females, as they will fight and can cause significant injury to each other. Instead, studs should be housed with other adult males, away from the sight of females, and consideration should be given to housing similar sized males, so smaller males are not bullied or restricted from food or shelter by bigger alpacas. However, it is worth remembering that this will take up more space, time, and money. If keeping another group of alpacas isn’t a viable option, you can still breed females and build a breeding herd by investing in specialised stud services.
How Do Alpaca Stud Services Work?
Some alpaca breeders offer stud services, either as a mobile service (where they bring the studs to you) or as a drive by mating (where you take your females to the stud). The stud will service your female and a follow up visit can be arranged to conduct a spit off test, including re-mating where necessary. The price varies depending upon stud status (whether they are proven or not), colour, breeding line, genetics, and the level of service and guarantee provided.
Registering Your Alpacas
If you are considering breeding alpacas, we highly recommend that you become a member of the British Alpaca Society, and purchase alpacas who are registered with the BAS. The BAS helps to maintain a high standard of care and management of herds in the UK, in order to promote responsible ownership.
Alpacas can be registered with the BAS under the following categories:
Listed – non-breeding alpacas such as field pets, castrated males, or any alpacas not suitable for breeding (any offspring from listed alpacas cannot be registered)
Notified – these alpacas can be fully registered once proven (has progeny/cria on the ground)
Fully registered – all females can be fully registered by 12 months of age and proven males can also be registered (but must be accompanied by a DNA test)
Part 2 (Mating & Testing for Pregnancy)
Learn how to look after alpacas
This 95 page E-Guide is packed full of information for new and prospective alpaca keepers, covering Alpaca 101, Requirements, Diet & Pasture Management, Husbandry Tasks, Disease & Parasites and an Introduction to Breeding & Cria Care. Download upon purchase so you can dive straight in! For the full contents list and to get your copy, click the image below.