Alpacas mating...Video...Time consuming process...Not as simple as one may assume...

We took this video during the mating.
This morning at 9 am we're heading an hour south for an exciting local event, returning late in the day. We'll be back with photos over the next several days which we're looking forward to sharing.

The males, called Machos, are kept in a separate paddock in order to maintain control over the mating process.
Today's post prepared late yesterday and completed early this morning is a bit more rushed than usual.  Hopefully, the included video and photos speak for themselves.

We're continually amazed by the amount of work required by Trish and Neil to manage this 100 alpaca farm, both of whom are also working away from the farm in a high level profession requiring considerable work and commitment.


The pair are placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating.  Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity.
In itself, managing this farm could easily be a full time commitment.  And yet, effortlessly and diligently they both spend many hours each week with nary a complaint.  They love and care for these unique creatures with the utmost of love and concern.

Not only are they busy providing nutrient rich foods a few times each day laid about the paddocks in dozens of colorful bowls as a adjunct to the hay and grass the alpacas graze but, several entire herds in the various paddocks must be moved frequently to newly greened pastures.


The courtship is rather quick but the event can last for 45 minutes.
Moving the various herds of alpacas from one paddock to another is quite a sight to watch.  The alpacas have become accustomed to this process and in their gentle ways, they respond to the carefully managed process that Trish and Neil perform with what appears to be relative ease.


We couldn't help but laugh over the looks on the faces of the others during the mating.
For us neophytes, its looks a lot easier than it really is.  Add the constant handling of baled hay as an additional food source for the alpacas, the annual shearing of all the alpacas, the attendance at alpaca shows throughout the country where they frequently win blue ribbons and awards.


Trish and Neil oversee the mating to ensure all is going well.  The Macho is wearing the harness used to bring him to the mating pen.
The record keeping is a big part of the management of the farm with each alpaca tagged and named, as is the case for the cria shortly after birth.  As much as we're enjoying the playful entertainment by these amazing animals, we don't take lightly the responsibility required in all of the above...including the mating process.

We don't profess to know much about the breeding of alpaca other than the answers to questions we've asked of Trish and Neil as time has allowed with their busy schedules.


We were up close during this particular mating.  Others we've observed from a distance.
Today, we share the snippets we've gleaned, hoping if any of our readers have more specific questions they'll refer online for more information with many sites providing details.  Here are a few points of interest we gleaned in the process:
  • Females, referred to as the "Hembra" with the male referred to as the "macho."  Males and females do not live together in the paddock and are only brought together for mating purposes.
The other hang close so they can watch. The cria were chasing one another mimicking the making behavior.

  • Hembra can be bred at one year of age and continue to breed until they are 14 to 15 years old.  Machos reach maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Hembra are referred to as "induced ovulators" meaning they do not have a specific cycle.  They can be mated at any time while ovulation is induced by the actions of the macho.
The female will only resist if she's impregnated from a prior session which immediately is terminated ensuring Trish and Neil there no need to continue.

  • Gestation is approximately 11.5 (from 335 to 342 days) months.  Hembra can be mated two weeks after giving birth of the "cria" of which there is only one birth per year.
  • 14 days after mating, the female is reintroduced to the male.  If she is pregnant she will not sit down for the mating process.  Instead she will engage in what is referred to as the "spit off" test by kicking, running away and spitting at the male.  Its this process that enables the farm owners to determine the Hembra is in fact pregnant until further blood tests at a later date.  If the "spit off" doesn't occur, this means the Hembra is not pregnant and she cooperates in the mating.
 
He was no worse for the wear after the event.
Having witnessed this entire life cycle at various stages since our arrival over one month ago we feel honored for the experience as we continue to observe this miracle of life.

He even offered a little smile for the camera.
Now, we're off for our upcoming busy day and will return tomorrow with a new story and photos of a popular annual event in the Taranaki Region.  Have a great day!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2015:
One year ago, we visited Spouting Horn in Kauai where spouts in the lava formed from  which the ocean spouted as the waves washed in and out to the shore.  We could only imagine how majestic it would have been on a day when the waves were more aggressive.  For more photos, please click here.

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