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Thread last updated on Mar 14, 2019 at 08:18 pm

1 Feb 16, 2019 09:22 pm    

For those that practice field breeding (versus hand breeding with haltered male), have you observed an increase in first time settles and/or a decrease in problems settling a female?

My routine has been to put a male in with his harem and then I ultrasound beginning at three weeks after putting the male and females together. I only do cool to cold weather breedings.

My percentage of positive ultrasounds at three weeks post-breeding is almost 100% (I use flattened fleece as a gauge of initial breeding). Also of interest, my most "aggressive" males have become less so and seem more selective in the timing of breedings. And finally, it appears that a very high percentage of females are settled with the first breeding and I have a higher percentage of females breeding once and retaining the pregnancy to full term.

My female selection criteria is the same regardless if field or hand breeding, so even the field breeding males have settled difficult females.

It would make for an interesting study. Anyone else with similar and/or interesting observations?

2 Feb 17, 2019 09:36 am

When we first started raising alpacas, the common practice in our area was hand breeding. This turned out to be quite a chore with getting the female in the breeding pen, letting the male in and sometimes waiting for him to decide if he wanted to breed or graze. Once he settled the female, making sure he got the job done and timing the process. Sometimes this took all day and was exhausting!
It was out of necessity that we started field breeding. I had accidentally discovered when we put a young male in with our females, that night time breeding was preferred. He was a good male so if he bred everyone of them, that was fine with me. And so in the darkness of the night we could hear the soft orgling of the Male. It was a calm and peaceful event. Soon we didn’t hear his nighttime song.
This was our mistake… We left the males in with the females reasoning that if the dams slipped the pregnancies the male would know and re-breed her. However, a month or so before the due date, I had noticed a male chasing a dam. Nothing ever came of it so I didn’t think much about it until we found the dam had aborted and the male was trying to breed so we separated them.
When this happened again with a different male, I reasoned that the dams hormone levels must be changing therefore exciting the male causing him to want to breed which stresses the dam to the point of aborting.
We still pasture breed but pull the males at no more than 3 months before due dates.

3 Feb 17, 2019 04:49 pm

Good observation on your part! Yes, I pull out the male after 2 or 3 months, much to their dismay. I believe they are more efficient when you let them sort things out. I’m wondering if you find that the male successfully settles with just one breeding? I often see people comment that field breeding causes "overbreeding," but I believe the opposite is more likely the case. Thank you again. Helpful to know!

4 Feb 17, 2019 05:36 pm

I believe the opposite is true as well. Though I’ve never seen only one attempt to breed. I’ve never seen excessive attempts or excessive breeding. I believe there is somewhat of a courtship that has to take place. Though the dam cushes for the male, she still has control of whether she let’s him breed with her or not. She can tuck in her tail and fold her back legs tightly around it. It’s up to him to woo her into submitting. It has been my experience that any attempts of courtship after 2 months are quickly put to a halt by the dam and the male seems to abruptly loose interest and go back to a peaceful co-existence. This is when I time the due date. Funny, but I think they know what they’re doing better than we do.

5 Mar 14, 2019 08:18 pm

Of course you can buy a ram harness that holds a crayon in it that rubs the back of the female as she is mounted. By changing the crayon color each week you can see which animals are returning for service and which ones that appear to be holding a pregnancy - this also allows the breeder to more accurately predict the future birthdate as well …..

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