Females reach breeding capability by 16-24 months. Males usually don’t reach sexual maturity until 24 months or more, with the rare one becoming potent as early as 12 months.
With good nutrition and time off every few years, females will breed throughout their life.
Humming is the most common sound an alpaca makes, a sort of musical purring. The mom calls to her cria by humming, or they hum to communicate with each other within the herd.
When alarmed, a staccato tooting is made by one animal, then joined in by the rest of the herd as they focus attention in the direction of potential danger.
During breeding, which lasts from 20 to 30 minutes, the males trumpets or ‘orgles’ a love song to his mate.
The alpaca is prey to mountain lions, coyotes, bears, and other carnivores. In its native Andes, the alpaca’s long neck helps spot predators among the rocks of the mountain slopes. Alpacas, donkeys, and guard dogs such as Anatolian shepherd dogs are often used as herd guardians.
The gestation period is 11-12 months (340 days).
The alpaca is a herbivore, grazing on grass and munching weeds, shrubs and trees. They process their food through 3 stomachs where special secretions enable the animal to absorb 50% more nutrients than sheep. A low-protein feed is recommended, with additional mineral supplements for females since they are generally pregnant and/or nursing.
Alpaca manure is excellent fertilizer and may be applied directly to the garden without danger of "burn". Because alpacas are not nomadic, they mark their territory with their dung piles and usually wait to get to the designated area to defecate or urinate.
Alpaca crias average 6 to 9 kgs. Delivery usually occurs during the daytime and rarely requires the assistance of humans. Twins are extremely rare. Cria is weaned at about 6 months of age.