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February 3rd, 2004 . Separate A Cria A From Its Mother?


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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.

Llama Training

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



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