Raising alpaca requires knowledge of caring for them from a young age, breeding them, and keeping them healthy. You need to be prepared for the job ahead and make sure you have the time and resources available for the task.
Selecting the Best Alpacas for Breeding
If you don’t already own alpacas but plan on breeding them; your selection when purchasing your first alpacas is that much more important.
Of course you will need at least one female and one male. The cost ranges greatly based on the particular specimen. Suri alpacas may be a better choice if you are trying to breed alpacas that will produce exceptional wool; but this will increase the cost. Alpacas also come in many different colors so keep that in mind.
Regardless of type or color, your alpacas will need to be healthy and well cared for. Make sure you are buying healthy specimens by having them checked by a vet before purchase. We feed ours high nutrient supplement food from foderbud.se before mating any two animals.
Age is another factor, especially for the female. You do not want to breed an alpaca too early as this can be unhealthy both for the mother and their offspring. Most female alpacas can deliver offspring without complications by the time they are two years old, so make sure your female alpaca is at least that old if you plan to breed her right away.
Getting Alpacas to Breed
Alpacas do not go into heat and can be bred at any time of the year. Once you have selected the two alpaca you want to breed the main step is to get them separated from any other alpaca that you may own. In fact, you will want them separated from any other livestock or outside distractions in general.
This is more than just putting them in a separate pen. You will not want other alpacas to be visible from the breeding pen. You don’t want the male and female you want to breed to be distracted by other prospects.
Delivering Baby Alpaca
Once a female alpaca is pregnant she will carry her young for eleven months. A baby alpaca is called a cria.
Delivery of the cria is not a huge issue as the mother takes care of nearly everything. In fact, she is so in control of the situation that an alpaca can delay their own pregnancy for a week or two if they sense a bad storm coming.
Make sure that the expectant mother has her own private area to live in as the time of birth approaches. It will be good for the mother and cria to have privacy from other alpaca. You will also have to help wash the newborn once it is delivered.
Mothers only deliver one cria per pregnancy. Crias are on average fifteen to twenty pounds when they are born.
Caring for a Cria
Alpacas are great mothers, which is fortunate because that means you will have to do very little in regards to the early upbringing of the cria. Crias will nurse from their mother for the first six to nine months of their life. After this point, they will start to develop more independence from their mother. This is when the mother will look after them less and it will be your job to make sure they are eating a proper diet and are well cared for.
Make no mistake; you should still keep a close eye on your cria even though the mother is caring for it. Make sure they are healthy and that everything is going smoothly in their development.
In the rare event that the mother is failing to care for their cria or if something unfortunate should happen to the mother; it may fall on you to bottle feed the cria. Frozen alpaca milk may be an option for purchase depending on where you live. Some breeders have found that goat milk (which tends to be easier to find on the market) works as an acceptable substitute.
Weaning a Cria
Some crias will wean themselves naturally but others will have a harder time. When weaning, you will need to separate the mother and the cria so that they cannot see or even hear each other. This will be a difficult period for them but they will get through it.
Though you need to separate the mother and child, that does not mean you need to isolate them from other alpacas entirely. In fact, loneliness will only make this process that much harder. This is especially true for the cria.
The cria may still be too small to keep around adult alpacas but if you have other cria you can keep them with; that is the perfect situation. They can have company from other young cria while going through this difficult process.
From Cria to Adulthood
As the cria grows up, their care will be no different from the adult alpacas you have already been caring for. Feed and clean after them daily, make sure they have clean water, bathe them, trim their nails, give them checkups at the vet on at least an annual basis.
It will be challenging at times but it can be very rewarding to raise an alpaca from birth. Some farmers find the process so fulfilling that they have raised generations of alpaca.
Benefits of Raising Alpaca
Raising your own alpaca comes with a plethora of benefits. In addition to the emotional fulfillment of it (because they are such social and friendly creatures) there are also a number of financial rewards to raising alpaca.
Of course there is the highly sought after fiber that alpacas produce. If you are raising your own alpaca, you will have a lot of this wool on hand. Selling it can be a great way to make extra cash, or if you are particularly handy you could even try crafting with it yourself.
Alpaca breeders will sometimes trade or sell superb specimens with other breeders. An alpaca can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 on average, but select specimens with great genes can sell for much higher than this. Some prized alpaca go for upwards of $100,000.