a Suri Farm, ltd.

Fine Peruvian Alpacas in the Heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country!

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May 04, 2017

The Breeding Process


Breeding is priority number one at a Suri Farm, ltd. Whether it is the reproductive health of our dams or the selection of the appropriate herdsire, we take great care in planning for the breeding process.

Every breeder should consider these things BEFORE the actual process, and it is a process, takes place:

The reproductive history of the dam and herdsire;
The time of year at which the birth of the cria will occur;
The veterinary care necessary throughout the breeding, pregnancy and birth;
The nutritional needs of the dam throughout the pregnancy.

A dam’s reproductive history is important because it will be indicative of what you can expect in the future. For example, if your dam carried her pregnancy for 342 days in the past, research has shown that you can expect her to deliver within a few days of that same term during her next pregnancy. If she was “difficult” to get pregnant in the past, chances are she’ll probably have similar experiences throughout her breeding career. Has she ever thrown a blue-eyed cria and if so, to what color herdsire was she bred?

The herdsire’s reproductive history matters because it will have a direct impact on the success of future breeding. While no one is able to predict the color or sex of a cria before it is born, much can be learned from a simple review of a sire’s progeny listed on the ARI website. We do searches on ARI before we make the final selection of a herdsire for our dams. Some of the things we consider are – has this sire thrown only Suri offspring when bred to Suri, what color have the offspring been, has the sire ever thrown blue-eyed cria, how many males and females has he sired, what has the conformation and fiber quality of the offspring been, have the offspring been shown and if so, how did they do in the ring. All of these questions can and should be posed to the sire’s owner before you commit to a breeding. You can prioritize the answers according to your personal farm philosophy and then make an informed breeding decision.

Birthing season at a Suri Farm, ltd. occurs in the spring and fall of each year. One important thing we’ve learned is that the heat of the summer and the bitter cold of the winter in our location are NOT ideal times for the pregnant dam or her newborn cria. We don’t want to risk losing a dam to heat exhaustion or have a cria freeze to death. If you live in a more temperate climate than central Pennsylvania, you can adjust your breeding schedule as you see fit.

If you are in the breeding business you should not wait for the appearance of two front toes and a nose popping out of the backside of your dam to occur before you plan for veterinary care. Birth can be stressful for both the dam and the owner so it is important that you have a well established relationship with your veterinarian before you even begin breeding alpacas. Make sure that your vet will be available in times of emergency. It’s also important to have the kind of rapport with your vet that allows you to call with questions throughout the pregnancy. If you’ve got a late-term dam rolling uncomfortably in your pasture and you think she has a uterine torsion, you need immediate veterinary intervention – not a series of questions about your judgment.

Other veterinary care that should be planned in advance includes having adequate colostrum and camelid plasma on hand at your farm before the birth. These products are readily available but can take several days to reach your farm. Both plasma and colostrum should be kept frozen in a deep freezer, not the top of a refrigerator, in order to maintain their effective properties. We are fortunate to have access to absolutely fresh cow colostrum from a local dairy farmer who brings it to us within moments of milking. We divide it into 8 oz. portions, pour it into plastic bags and pop it in the freezer. We note the date on the bag for future reference. We get our llama plasma from Kent Labs and we’ve included a link to their website on this site for your convenience. They have a knowledgeable staff and are happy to answer any questions you may have. They deliver by overnight priority service and the plasma arrives frozen solid and should be immediately placed in the deep freezer.

Finally, and certainly of importance, the nutritional needs of your dam throughout her pregnancy should be considered. The conscientious breeder should ensure that his dam has enough quality hay and feed throughout the eleven and a half month gestation. We use a feed mix at a Suri Farm, ltd. that is nutritionally balanced for alpaca diets. About two weeks prior to delivery, we’ll supplement our dam’s grain with an herbal formula meant to increase lactation. We began doing this just a few years ago and we’ve noticed a marked improvement. We also provide our nursing moms with extra alfalfa in their hay if we see they need it.

These are some of the things we would suggest you consider before getting into the business of alpaca breeding. Just remember, a process is a series of events, if each event is planned for properly, alpaca breeding can be a wonderfully rewarding process!