Female alpaca have one goal in life, to raise their young. The average female alpaca weighs between 120 – 150 pounds.
A young female will show signs of maturity and readiness for breeding at 14 – 18 months of age. However it’s best to wait until she is fully grown before actually breeding her. Many breeders wait until she is 24 months of age. Females are “induced ovulators,” which means that the act of mating and the presence of semen causes them to ovulate. Females sometimes conceive after just one breeding session, which can last anywhere from 5 minutes to well over an hour. Occasionally they do have troubles conceiving. Artificial insemination is technically difficult because the act of breeding stimulates ovulation – but it can be accomplished. However there has been tremendous success in the US with Embryo Transfer.
See the page about males for more information on breeding.
The gestation period is between 11 and 12 months, most commonly between 335 – 345 days. Females usually have single births and human intervention is sometimes needed. The average newborn (called cria) weighs between 15- 20 pounds, with delivery occurring usually during the daylight hours, more often in the morning. The newborn cria is usually standing and nursing within 90 minutes of birth, and will continue to nurse until weaned at approximately 6 months of age. Twins occur about every 10,000 births. The time between giving birth and rebreeding can be as little as 3 weeks but most often is between 4-6 weeks. The average life span of the North American raised alpaca is around 20-25 years. During its life time a female alpaca can produce 15 or more offspring.