On average gestation is 345 days although alpaca gestation can vary from 330 to 370 days and there are rare examples of healthy cria being born earlier or later than this. In an ideal world cria would be born in late spring/early summer although this is not always possible. It is not uncommon for breeders to birth cria from March through until October with the right welfare facilities in place.
Young females are ready to be put to a stud male only when they have reached 60 per cent of the weight of their mother, or are 14 months old. Following a normal birthing and complete cleansing within 12 hours of birth, a female should be in a fit condition to return to a male from 10-14 days post partum.
It is known that some males are able to breed from about nine months of age but most males are not fertile until they are 2-3 years old.
During copulation, the stud male intrudes through the cervix of the female and deposits sperm repeatedly into each uterine horn. This action can cause damage to the uterine lining and disrupt a developing pregnancy. Frequent and indiscriminate mating should be avoided.
The selection of stud males is an important decision. The stud should be chosen to add improvements to the female such as better crimp or lower micron count because the male has a major influence on the quality of the offspring.
Cria should be weaned at around six months of age.
It is unwise for the safety of a newly born cria to have expectant mothers birthing in a field with deep puddles, ponds or streams.
Hypothermia in cold or wet weather can be fatal to young and newborn cria.
Cria should be vaccinated at four weeks and a booster given four to six weeks later. From then, they should fall into the regular schedule of the adult herd. Worming of cria is normally commenced at weaning. Late born cria can be given vitamin A, D, and E boosters in the autumn as a precaution against rickets.
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