Back in October, I did some alpaca work experience and was lucky enough to be involved in testing to see if the female alpacas were pregnant. I hadn’t heard much about alpaca breeding and was interested to see how different it is to calving and lambing that I have much more experience in.
When the hembra was pregnant and so had a functional corpus luteum, she would aggressively refuse the male’s efforts to mount ie. She would try to run from the stud alpaca, with ears down, and spitting. If the female was not pregnant and had not ovulated, she would sit for remating.
This indication of pregnancy is seen if he is reintroduced over 15 days after the initial breeding. A functional corpus luteum is present 2–3 days after ovulation.
The corpus luteum develops on the ovary at the site of ovulation and produces progesterone (the pro-gestational hormone) to maintain the foetus for the entire pregnancy as well as for implantation. If a female ovulates but fails to conceive, she will become receptive again approximately 12-14 days after the failed mating.
The fertilised secondary oocyte is usually found in the uterus by day 7 after mating, with implantation occurring after around 30 days of gestation.
Ovulation in a female alpaca usually occurs as a result of ‘copulation’ (alpacas are “induced ovulators” rather than having oestrus cycles like we do). Females can ovulate as a result of the stimulation of being near to a mating pair. When the female is ready for mounting she will sit in a “cush” position. The male vocally “orgles” (a type of mating call) as he mounts her.
Gestation is usually around 11.5 to 12 months.
I enjoy learning more about what I see on work experience as there isn’t always time to explain what is happening. However, my favourite part on this farm was bottle feeding the crias, they are not as keen to suck as lambs are though!
Has anyone else done any alpaca or even llama experience? I look forward to hearing from you!