Female Breeding Age
In order to maximize their financial return breeders and alpaca farmers push the breeding of alpacas when they are far too young. Going back to responsible breeding and avoid mistakes by doing it right from the onset and educating yourself before you decide to start an alpaca farm will avoid costly mistakes and preserve the alpaca for future generations too.
An alpaca female only reach her biological maturity between 12 – 24 months and often not until 30 months. In very rare instances you find a female that conceive as young as five months. It is very dangerous though for both the mother and the cria and it endangers both and could even result in death of both. Many disregard it when leaving a young female wit males in a camp that the male alpaca would not take advantage of a female that is too young.
Some breeder elect to breed their females according to the minimum body weight or age and even though these ages and weight are good benchmarks it was prescribed in context to South American settings where all breeding occur once a year. Any female born a year ago would then be ready to breed the following year according to those benchmarks. However those are incredibly rich pastures in the wet season when the breeding occurs.
In New Zealand and Australia a different consensus is developing recently by Clyde and Roger Haldane who are both in the alpaca business for many years. They showed that they do breed at 12 months but that before then they ensure the female weighs a minimum of 100 pounds. To find prove for this breeding method it was found that around sixty percent of the females tested did conceive and had no health problems and the breed lings were healthy too. This believe is that the gestation period of alpacas is 342 days which is a long enough period for the female to develop even more and grow as the embryo only starts growing fast in the last trimester and by then the pregnant female is fully mature and can give birth to a healthy cria and be healthy herself.