- Female alpacas are induced ovulators, which means the act of mating causes the female to ovulate; this results in near constant fertility. Alpacas are not seasonal breeders, so they can be bred at any time during the year. A baby alpaca is known as a cria. Females usually deliver one cria and then are usually ready to breed again in about 3 weeks. The gestation period is 11 ½ months. A female that has not produced a cria is known as a maiden. A maiden female is usually ready for her first breeding at 1 ½ to 2 ½ years of age. A female is known as proven after she has delivered a cria. When starting your herd, it can be helpful to have some proven females and not just maidens in your herd.
- Males are usually ready to breed (settle) a female by 2-3 years of age. The act of mating is unique in domestic livestock, in that they breed lying down or “kushed”, and take 20-50 minutes to breed. Also, the male produces a near-continuous vocalization known as “orgling” throughout breeding.
- Adult males usually range from 150-200 pounds. Females range from 130-170 pounds. This can be compared to adult llamas that weigh in around 300-400 pounds. The height at the withers for an adult alpaca is 35-36 inches.
- Alpacas achieve their adult height and size by 2-3 years of age and full growth by 4-5 years of age. Adulthood is also established by when all teeth have fully erupted which occurs around 5 years of age.
- Alpacas are a unique animal in the fact they have no upper incisors, just a hard palate their lower teeth bite against. Their baby teeth (lower incisors) fall out from 2-6 years of age, when the developing (or erupting) permanent tooth pushes the baby tooth out. They have 6 fighting teeth altogether (4 canine teeth and 2 modified premolars) which the males use in dominance battles. Fighting teeth are small or absent in females and early castrated males. Alpacas have 4-5 molars (including premolars) on each jawbone, which is fewer than horses or people.