They certainly do.
On the Alti Plano they tend to paddock mate maybe ten males to 100 females and 'Bobs your uncle' but there isn't a great deal of selecion and recording that goes along with this method. There are some herds in the UK which paddock mate, puttign a given male in with half a dozen females for a couple of weeks or more.
At TOFT we have always pen mated, selcting carefully whcih female goes with which male , hopefully to acheive the better result. Pen mating is not random, is easily monitored and gives you a reasonably accurate expected delivery date.
The male begins to "orgle"- a sound unique to an alpaca and is a cross between a gentle roar and a yawn.
With great orgling and flaring of nostrils and popping of eyes the male chases the female around and then placing his forelegs over her back forces her to the ground, where she will sit (kush) in the mating position, very calm and regal, like some old victorian aunt.
The male then sits behind her and gently orgles away as he makes his deposit whilst she responds in a satisfied manner in a stately and dignified way as befits an animal of such beauty. She seems to take very little interest in the proceedings or receive any great pleasure it is clinical and objective and the mimute that she is pregnant she will spit off the male and 'that's your lot mate - see you next year'
Alpacas are dribble ejaculators which means that this sedate mating session can take anything from five to twenty minutes but legend has it that males can mate for 40 minutes. We don't let this happen at TOFT as this would be a waste of sperm. One of our top males was a five minute max man and ' that will do nicely for you girl' and he always made his mark.
A male alpaca (Macho) is ready to perform at two and a half to three years.
A female alpaca (Hembra) normally matures and is ready for mating at 18months, a factor which is also dependent on body weight. There are some farms which succesfully breed their alpacas between 12-18 months. At TOFT we have always waited until the female is 2 years of age on the principle that she is fully mature at this stage and ready to produce a cria every year for the next ten years. We feel that by breeding any younger we run the risk of losing longevity in the breeding and the female getting worn out much sooner. Each to their own we can only share what works for us.
Be warned some young males can mature very fast and we never leave our male and female weaners together longer than nine months, just in case.
A female alpaca will normally be receptive to mating ten days after giving birth. The gestation period for an alpaca is eleven and a half months. Alpacas lifespan is between fifteen and twenty years and one would expect a healthy well grown female to be fertile for at least twelve years. Experience tell us that as they approach 14 there is a tendency for females to be sporadic in their production. At TOFT we tend to start giving them a season off post 12 and can maintain productivity in some alpacas right through to 18, but normally we expect that by 15 that the female is almost past the average breeding age, given the odd exception.
NB:-There are currently no National statistics to back any of this up. It is a shame that we have not got the BAS registry collating and distributing verified information on these sort of matters seeing as we have been breeding these wonderful creatures in the UK for over 20 years. We feed the information in religiously its about time that the resource started to produce more than pedigree certificates. Hopefully it will come soon.