• Alpaca Fact Sheet #3: Parturition (Birth)

    Most births occur during daylight hours and reputedly between 0800 and 1400 hours. Physical signs of approaching parturition are often imperceptible but changes in general behaviour are usually the most obvious outward sign that birth is imminent. Physical signs may include relaxation of the vulva, loss of the cervical mucus plug, slight increase in the size of the mammary gland and waxing of the tips of the teats (only if previously given birth). Behavioural changes include signs of obvious discomfort (including rolling and frequently lying down and getting up), frequently looking at their tail, and placing themselves in isolation to the rest of the herd, and frequent visits to the dung pile with little or no defecation. Other common body language includes sitting on one hip, ears back, and back arched. more »
  • Alpaca Fact Sheet #2: Mating Behaviour

    The male pursues the receptive female, attempting to mount her until she sits in 'cush' position. A male with good libido may chase a female for up to ten minutes. Once the female sits down, the male positions himself immediately behind her, manoeuvres his penis through her vulva into the vagina and cervix. With rhythmic thrusting movements semen is then deposited into the uterus of the female. If the male is properly positioned his back is characteristically arched with his pelvis close to the pelvis of the female. During copulation the male makes a characteristic guttural sound called 'orgling''. Copulation may continue for 5-55 minutes with an average time of 15-20 minutes. During mating other receptive females present may sit down beside the mating pair. Once ovulation has occurred, females are non-receptive and will actively reject the male, i.e. they spit, refuse to sit down and try to run away. Alpacas are non-seasonal breeders and will demonstrate year round sexual activity. more »
  • Alpaca Fact Sheet #1: Key Reproductive Features

    Most domestic species show regular distinct periods of 'heat' or sexual receptivity. At each 'heat' one or more mature follicles (fluid sacs) on the ovaries ruptures spontaneously releasing an egg (ovulation). The number of follicles depends on the species. Alpaca females do not 'come on heat' but show prolonged periods of sexual receptivity during which time they will allow the male to mate (Fig. 3). Ovulation generally does not occur spontaneously and it is the act of copulation itself which induces ovulation. During copulation, the penis of the male stimulates the vagina and cervix of the female. This stimulation causes the release of hormones from the brain of the female which circulate in the blood to the ovaries and cause final development and ovulation of the ovarian follicle (Fig. 2). more »
  • Basics About Alpacas

    Alpacas are members of the camel family, which originated in the Great Plains of North America. The earliest fossils date back 40 million years ago, when the “camels” were cat sized with four toes. About 5 million years ago, some of them migrated west into Asia where they evolved into Dromedary and Bactrian camels. Others traveled south into South America. The varieties that stayed in North America died out 10-15,000 years ago. more »
  • Common Terms

    Common terminology can be very confusing for those first entering the realm of alpacas, and even more so if they do not have experience with other types of livestock or companion animals. This list of terms is intended to be of assistance to those just entering the world of alpacas. more »

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