A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 16, 2009

Reading Between the Lines


Now that the visiting alpacas quarantine period is over its time for us to get started with the breeding process so that we can get the alpacas pregnant and returned to their owners.


Orchid is going to be shorn prior to breeding, she is carrying a lot of fleece and it will be much safer to shear her first rather than shear her in the very early stages of pregnancy.


Marti arrived at our farm already shorn and so at the weekend we introduced her to our herdsire Treasure, who is the male Marti is to be bred to.  Marti initially ran a little, not completely unusual in an open alpaca, but sometimes it is an indication that she is not at the part of her cycle where she is most receptive to breeding.


Marti did cush for Treasure fairly quickly so we were optimistic that she would breed that day, however a short while later she stood up again.   We were not certain why Marti stood up; it was possible that she found the act of breeding painful in which case we would have needed to investigate things further.   Treasure again mounted Marti and again she cushed but shortly afterwards stood up.  At that point we decided that it was time to call a halt to the proceedings, as something was not right as far as Marti was concerned.


We knew that Marti had a reproductive work up prior to coming to us and that her owner’s vet declared her sound for breeding so we suspected that Marti’s behavior with Treasure was most likely due to her being in the wrong part of her reproductive cycle for breeding, even though she cushed quite readily for Treasure.


Yesterday we decided to try Marti with Treasure again so see if her behavior would be any different.  Again she ran a little but this time when she cushed she stayed cushed and allowed herself to be bred.  The breeding proceeded without any problems and Marti did not show any signs of discomfort during the breeding.


So Marti’s behavior at the first time of being put with Treasure was her way of saying that she was not receptive for breeding.  The fact that she cushed was a little misleading, but she is timid by nature and she may just have felt dominated by Treasure which caused her to cush.  Her behavior of standing up during the breeding was a more definite indication that she was not receptive to breeding at that time.


Alpacas have very distinct individual personalities and when it comes to breeding females it is helpful to know and understand their personality.  By getting acquainted with the various personalities it makes it a little easier to read the behavior of the female alpaca when she is introduced to a male.  In Marti’s case we knew her to be timid by nature and that helped us assess her behavior when first introduced to the male.


Apart from the biosecurity advantages of the three week quarantine that we enforce on alpacas coming onto the farm, it also gives us a chance to observe and get to know visiting female alpacas before introducing them to the male alpacas.   By being able to read their subtle signals and understand what they are trying to tell us by their behavior we are better able to assess where they are in their reproductive cycle or if there may be something else causing them to be non-receptive to breeding.


We will behavior test Marti in about a week to see if she will reject the male indicating that she has probably cycled, if so we may be on our way to achieving a successful pregnancy.  The process of breeding alpacas is not a difficult one, but it does take time, knowledge of alpaca reproductive behavior and the ability to be able to read between the lines to understand what the female alpaca is telling you.





  1. Oh Rosemary, I just love that Treasure. He stayed at our place a couple years back. He was such a sweet little guy, hard to imagine he’s a herdsire now!

    Comment by Susan Frank — April 16, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    • Hi Susan,

      Treasure is a sweetheart and beautiful too. I think he stayed with you on his way to our place. His first crias are due at the end of June and we can hardly wait to see what he produces. I will share pictures with you once they arrive.


      Comment by alpacalady — April 18, 2009 @ 4:10 am

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