June has arrived, which is the exciting month that we become alpaca owners. From the moment we chose to start our own herd, I knew that I wanted to breed from them. Having had a little experience with lambing, I knew the wonder of seeing new life born into the world. The highs, the lows, the waiting and the excitement. There’s nothing quite like it.
But unlike ewes who are pregnant for around 5 months, alpacas have a gestation of a whopping 11 and a half months. That’s some pregnancy!
Alpacas are induced ovulators, which means that the physical act of mating causes the Hembra (the female alpaca) to release an egg; there is no menstrual cycle. Other animal species that are induced ovulators are rabbits, cats and camels.
When the female is receptive to mating with the male, she will sit down for him, tucking her legs beneath her, in the cush position. This is her green light to the male that she will allow him to mate with her.
After a week or two, the male can be put back in with the female to see if she is still receptive. This is known as the spit-off; once the female is pregnant, she won’t have any interest in the male and will therefore spit at him, or kick out at him. Ultimately rejecting his amorous advances! This process can be repeated in another week, and if there is another spit-off, it is most likely that the female is pregnant and the marathon pregnancy begins.