Discussions on Reproduction in New World Camelids - Pt 1

Discussion Topic Created:
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Alpacas and llamas are South American Camelids. Both species are native to high altitudes in various areas of the Andes and Alto Plano of South America.
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The fiber that is yielded from the alpaca and the growing popularity of both species as pets has resulted in both alpacas and llamas being raised in many countries throughout the world. To support the growing market, animal management and production systems are developed in order to optimize reproductive capabilities and increase the efficiency and success of breeding. (Cortez 114)

A limitation in raising camelid livestock has to do with their reproductive physiology. Both alpacas and llamas have a long gestational period (approx. 350 days) and the females are uniparous, which means that they only give birth to a single offspring. Females are also induced ovulators, that is when the cervix is stimulated, there is a surge in LH (lutenizing-hormone), which causes ovulation. This differs from cattle,
horses, sheep, goats, and people all of whom are spontaneous ovulators, that is these species ovulated evertime cycle. Thus, camelids show ovarian activity throughout the year and are capable of breeding, conceiving, and giving birth at any time of the year. An advantage to this is that mating can be timed so that parturition will occur during the season in which pasture is most nutritionally sound. In South America, “Spring matings are carried out from mid-October to mid-December to ensure that the subsequent births and lactation are timed to coincide with peak pasture growth”. In North America, spring breedings might occur in March through May. Research at Ohio State University has shown that spring crias have the fewest problems with disease during the period from birth to weaning.

The mechanisms for controlling parturition are not well understood in alpacas and llamas. In several South American studies, it was shown that births almost always occur during the day, frequently in the morning and usually in calm weather. This suggests that alpacas and llamas can delay giving birth in order to avoid unfavorable conditions. (Bruce 297, 300)

Follicle wave generation can recommence within 24 hours of giving birth in South American Camelids. However, fertile matings are not usually possible for at least 2 weeks after parturition. Ovulatory follicles are sometimes seen as soon as 7 days postpartum, but uterine involution isn’t completed until 15-18 days after conceiving. Therefore, it is said that alpacas and llamas are able to successfully breed by 15 days postpartum, but that conception rates are improved at 21 and 30 days postpartum as compared to those at 2 weeks postpartum. This leaves a very small window of opportunity between conceiving and mating in order to maintain a 12-month reproductive cycle. (Gorden 195)

Three basic breeding techniques are used in camelids: natural service pasture-breeding, natural service pen-breeding, and natural service paddock-mating. Natural service refers to the fact that the male is actually breeding the female as opposed to artificial service where semen is collected from a male and deposited at the desired time in the desired female. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. (Purdy 2000) Field-Breeding: Concept One male is placed in a pasture with several females.

Advantages : Most natural method Limited labor. Optimal conception rates (esp for novice breeder owners)

Disadvantages Behavior and receptivity often not observed. Uncertainty about breeding dates. Disruption of breeding program if stud male not fertile.

Pen-Breeding: Concept One male and one female are placed in a pen for a period of time (1 to 7 days).

Advantages: Breeding dates can be more accurately determined.

Disadvantages: Males have more aggressive libido. Females may be over bred, resulting in decreased fertility or infection.

Paddock-Mating: Concept Each female is introduced to the stud male individually for short periods of time and breeding is only allowed to take place if the female is receptive to the male.

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  1. B. Emily Neal
     created a discussion topic
    April 26, 2015 @ 9:48 PM

    Discussions on Reproduction in New World Camelids - Pt 1

    Keywords: reproduction, camelid, alpaca, llama, suri


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