Updated: May 8
Next up in our ‘Caring for Alpacas’ series is breeding. This post will discuss breeding ages, studs, and the BAS; with parts two and three to follow…
Firstly, you should familiarise yourself with the following alpaca breeding terminology:
Hembra = female
Macho = male
Gelding = castrated male
Unpacking = giving birth
Cria = baby alpaca
Dam = mother
Sire = father
Spit off = an alpaca’s pregnancy test
Females should be at least 18 months old and have reached at least 60% of the weight of their mother before going to a stud. If you can leave it a little longer (to around 2 years of age) when the female will be fully grown, this is ideal.
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.
Inexperienced alpacas (both male and female) can take time to get the hang of mating; so, if you’re just starting out, it may be a good idea to start with proven alpacas (alpacas that already have progeny/offspring). If the breeding history is known, this will also reduce the chances of problematic pregnancies and/or births.
Read our blog on how to choose my alpacas and what to avoid for tips and guidance on how to select healthy alpacas.
Studs should NEVER be kept together in the company of females, as they will fight and can cause significant injury to each other. Instead, they should be housed as a same sex group 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 a lot more space, time, and money.
If the above isn’t a viable option, you can still breed females and build a breeding herd by investing in specialised stud services.
Some alpaca breeders offer stud services. They will service your female with the chosen stud(s) and revisit to conduct a spit off test, including remating where necessary, for a fee. 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*
Fully registered – all females can be fully registered by 12 months of age, as well as proven* males
* Proven = has progeny/cria on the ground