I recently acquired six alpacas, two 3 yr old
males, two females, and two babies, one a male. The male cria,
born Aug 15th is trying to breed the female that had a female
cria Aug 25th. At what age should I separate the crias from
their moms? I bred the female who had the cria Aug. 25th
yesterday and I saw her spitting at the 4 month old male today.
The mom of the male cria is still nursing him.
This is a tough question with no real right and
wrong. When and how to wean can be a hot button
issue for some and you are sure to get as many
opinions as people you ask... so here goes.
There have been rare instances of males as young as
five to six months old successfully impregnating
females- having said that I don't know that you need
to manage your animals for this possibility. Young
males come with varying libidos and some young males
never show any interest until they are two years old
or more some begin trying to breed the day after
they are born.
It sounds as if now that the open female is bred that
you don't have to do anything immediately. My
preference is to leave males in with older females
for as long as is practical (5-7 months). I think
they grow up to be more respectful and are more well
adjusted than males that are weaned really early (4
months or younger). If your older males are housed
together and you decide the wean the young male to
their pasture he will do better if he is a bit
bigger and older. It would be a shame for him to
have to live alone.
As far as the female cria goes, I would suggest
letting the mother wean the baby unless she is
sickly or extremely thin. Most mama alpacas will
wean their own babies at 7-9 months of age. When
allowed to do it themselves a female can actually
WEAN a baby. When we take a baby away we are not
actually weaning it we are "cold turkeying" it. A
female will gradually allow less and less nursing
until she eventually stops it all together when we
do it, it is here today totally gone the next.
Allowing a female to wean her baby leaves the
emotional bond intact and this can be a very nice
thing for both mother and baby. You may see distinct
family groups as your herd grows. You have a
small group of animals and it is nice to be able to
keep animals in a large a group as is practical. If
you wean this young girl you are diminishing the
size of the herd by a whopping one third and her
absence will really be felt! The alpacas prefer
larger rather than smaller numbers... safety in
numbers... so keeping all of your females together
will make them happy.
~ Marty McGee Bennett