This information was extracted from an article in Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada, about Ernest Thibault's Little Dipper farm in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia.

An typical adult Alpaca is about 36 inches high at the withers, and they generally live to an age of about 18 to 20 years. Ernest has expanded his herd to 35 animals and he thinks the Alpaca industry of the Maritimes in Canada is ready to take off. Seven or more Alpacas (they weigh about 150 pounds at maturity) can graze on an acre, the same space that would support only five sheep.

Alpaca Facts:

  • Females can breed at one year of age or when they grow to 100 pounds. Keep young females separated from males when they are younger than that since they can become pregnant at about six months of age.
  • Males generally become sexually mature at about 2 - 3 years of age.
  • Since females are induced ovulators (the breeding process triggers ovulation), there is no specific breeding season.
  • Mature females that are not pregnant are constantly receptive to breeding; so proper planning is required in cold climates to make sure young are born during the warmer times of year.
  • The gestation period for alpacas averages 330 - 350 days.
  • Alpacas generaly bear only one cria, with birth weights averaging about 15 - 23 pounds. Twins are quite rare.
  • Females can be bred as early as nine days after giving birth although most breeds wait at least 14 days.
  • Alpacas almost always give birth during the warmer part of the day.
  • Crias are generally weaned at about five or six months of age.
  • Alpacas graze grass as well as browsing shrubs.
  • Adults eat only about 1.25 to 1.5 per cent of their body weight per day.
  • Their nutritional requirements can be met with clean grass types of hay.
  • A bale of hay lasts an adult male about ten days.
  • Protein-rich hay such as alfalfa is not recommended. Due to their efficient metabolism, such a diet can over-condition them making them more prone to conception, birthing, and lactation problems.
  • Clean, fresh water must be available year-round.
  • Most parasites can be controlled with Ivomec given in the spring and fall.
  • Registered animals are blood-typed through their DNA by the Canadian Alpaca Breeder's Association.