There are quite a few things you will want to consider when selecting alpacas to purchase for your breeding herd. You will want to identify your goals first prior to selecting your alpaca herd.
Also, if you are just starting out, it is best to select one of the two breeds for several reasons. There are many bloodlines to learn, you will need a herdsire or two for each breed, you don’t want the two different breeds breeding with each other…and there is a lot to learn about each fiber type. You can always add the other breed later 🙂
We generally look at the following 7 things when considering the alpacas we want to add to our herd.
Your personal preference may vary, but we are generally looking for an average micron of 22-24 as this is a very versatile range. We also like them to have some lock structure. Since we live in Texas, we don’t want a particularly densely fleeced alpaca as we will have to worry more about heat stress. We initially started out with the goal to breed a color herd.
We did quite a bit of research to learn about the different bloodlines prior to purchasing our alpacas. You also want to make sure you are purchasing alpacas that don’t overlap in their bloodlines so you have more breeding choices.
There is a breed standard for conformation, but if you observe the alpacas carefully, you will most likely see alpacas that are more balanced and pleasing to the eye. We look for good bone size, ideal body frame, and well balanced alpacas with a pretty typey head.
If the female is old enough, then we look at her reproduction history first. But we also go into the public alpaca database and check the female’s mom and grandmother. You can check their offspring record. We look for consistency and good production record.
This probably goes without saying, but we want to make sure we are only purchasing robust alpacas who have not had health problems and are healthy. We also check their vaccination records, fecal tests, amount and type of drugs they have been given when possible.
This is probably one of the most important things for me personally. Even if everything else is great, if they have an unpleasant temperament- we will not purchase them. We spend a lot of time with our alpacas and this can really make the experience more enjoyable. We are usually looking for calm and reasonable temperaments since these animals can be more easily trained even if they have never been handled.
Females mature at about 18 months old and can breed until maybe 12-15 years old depending on their genetics and health status. We like to purchase them after weaning and maybe up to 3-4 years old. Males mature between 2.5-3 years old. We like to get them younger so we can bond with them and watch them grow. But we have purchased proven herdsires who have had babies as well.
Hope you found this information helpful! If you’re looking for pet alpacas, your priorities will be much simpler 🙂