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InFocus: Reliability in breeding alpacas

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 October 2014

Mum with cria feeding

Mum with cria feeding

©ken@bozedown-alpacas.co.uk

Advice from Joy Whitehead of Bozedown Alpacas, Oxfordshire

A good alpaca should be well conformed, with a boxy head and neat topknot, well-aligned dentition, and with consistent fineness, character, density and coverage to the fleece. A female should breed easily, carry her cria to full term, and then have good lactation in order to feed and raise a healthy cria, ideally every year – but you can give her a break now and then! Breeding reliability is paramount to ensure good returns on investment.

A stud male must have even testicles of good size and texture. This is essential in any breeding programme, to ensure that any reproductive defects are not carried down to the next generation. It is bad breeding practice to use males with small or uneven testicles. It is a fact that any resulting offspring, whether male or female will almost certainly carry reproductive defects themselves.

Breeding problems have been discovered in some of the alpacas exported from South America over the years, as it is not possible to obtain a reproductive history when selecting direct from Andean farms – records were simply not available. However, at Bozedown, we have kept meticulous breeding records over many generations, and thus have been able to eliminate from our breeding programme firstly any problem stud males, and then any female lines that we have identified as poor breeders, having multiple abortions, producing crias with failure of passive transfer (poor colostrum), or otherwise having crias that need bottle feeding (poor lactation). We now attain very high pregnancy rates from first matings, along with strong healthy crias.

MORE: For a sound future in alpaca breeding talk to Mary-Jo, 0771-8750303, or for information and hands-on, try a Beginners’ Day at our Prizewinning Alpaca Stud on November 12.

See our website for lots more information, www.bozedown-alpacas.co.uk

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