Alpaca Cria Facts
If keeping breeding females, the cria (baby) will need to be weaned from its mother at around 6 months of age. Ideally this should be in an area out of sight of each other to reduce stress levels for both mother and cria. If numbers allow the cria should be placed with other cria. Watching weanlings play together is enchanting for us and also seems to provide distraction for them.
Some owners do not separate the cria from the mother and rely on the mother to stop the cria feeding when she is ready. The danger here is that if the mother is due to give birth that the ‘weanling’ will take the first milk (colostrum) away from the new born cria. However, I have not heard of any actual problems from breeders using this method.
We have also found that splitting large areas into smaller paddocks allows for easier handling and field maintenance. Handling areas are particularly useful for husbandry tasks and can be easily erected with the aid of alpaca hurdles or as a permanent fixture using post and rails.
How do you wean the cria from their mothers?
Cria are usually weaned at 6 months and weigh around 35-40kg. They are put in a paddock, away from and out of sight of their mothers. The cria should be wormed a week prior to separation to avoid even more stress. At this stage you do not have to separate male and female cria from each other, but this should be done before the male is 1-year-old. Even though it is unusual for males to start ‘working’ until they are 2-3 years old, it is not unheard of! Weigh the cria regularly to make sure that they maintain their weight. Once weaned, after 6 weeks, the female cria can go back in the paddocks with their mothers. The male cria should not be put with working males until they are around 2 years old as the older males will dominate them until they are ‘working’ and can cause subservient behavior in youngsters.
What is the Gestation (pregnancy) period of a female Alpaca?
Female Alpacas are usually bred at 18-24 months of age. The gestation period is around 11.5 months. They usually only have one cria, but twins have been recorded in recent years. The female is then re-mated 2 weeks after giving birth.