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see West Melton

Alpaca Articles

Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.

They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA and also through articles on this website and other websites.

Click here for more articles  
 


LIFE OF A STUD MALE

By Nic Cooper, Southern Alpacas Stud

 


It takes quite a special alpaca to be a successful stud male. There are about 55 phenotypic and heath faults that must be checked by a vet and passed, and a substantial payment to the Registry made for “certification” of the stud so his progeny can be registered.

The real criteria are those set by the breeder - fibre attributes, the colour, the bone structure and body conformation, the genetic background, the “presence” and the perceived ability of that male to produce progeny better than the current herd, or his ability to earn dollars for stud fees.

 

Early Days 

Decision making may start before birth, with the mating decision of the dam. They decide this on the genetics of the parents and their genetic values in the AGE Breeding Value system.

A top stud male will likely stand out to the breeder at birth, and is marked for special watching as he grows.

He needs a good start to life - birthed “ready to go”, up on four feet quickly, a robust constitution, looking around saying “OK world, here I am, you had better be ready”.

 

Photo: cria with presence

 


Good nutrition and a social herd awareness are important early on. The development of the fibre must be monitored, to confirm early assessments. However it is common for excellence in fibre to not come until after first shear, and the second fleece is seen. Testicular development is also eagerly monitored!

 
 

Promotion

The next job is promotion, which is largely done going to Shows, winning ribbons, and getting lots of potential clients to have a good look at the fibre. Whilst some males will not be at their best until a little older, and some magnificent six month olds may not develop to their full potential, a series of ribbons as a Junior Male will set the base for future success.

Shearing and submitting fleeces to Fleece Shows the following year hopefully brings success, and the 2 – 3 year old male continues to represent himself in the Show Ring. After that his progeny should take over the mantle in the Show Ring.

The rise of testosterone (at about 18 months) should be accompanied by a bulking out in the body, not too much increase in fibre micron, and an interest in the females in the herd.
 

 

We run our males as a young group, so they can develop a (playful) hierarchy and challenge one another. They also come into the mating yards when older males are working, so they can get used to the idea of mating females. Young males can be quite shy at performing at first, especially if the female chooses to be less than co-operative.

 
 
 


Whilst alpacas are herd animals, males do fight for pecking order – and when fighting they are less interested in the main productive business – mating. So we find that it is more productive to keep males in stable herds with a pecking order established. Males that travel around New Zealand have their own dedicated stud paddock.

 

 

Top males mate daily through the spring, summer and autumn. Whilst males will mate several times a day, we prefer to restrict them to once a day, and do give them a day off every week or so.

Top males move around the country, mating through winter in the North Island and the South Island in summer. When located on a farm for a 6-7 week “season”, the male will do matings for resident females. They will also do mobile matings, where they go and visit local females.

 

 

As female alpacas are induced ovulators they can get pregnant at any time, which makes life easier for the stud manager -- there are no seasons or heats to consider. Once pregnant, they will spit at the male and refuse to mate again.

Stud males do like routines - their own stud paddock, their own food, the prime mating pen position, and the first off the float when arriving at a new mating location.

 

 

Stud males will continue working until old age (16 years or so) however most tend to get superseded by the later fashions coming along so have an effective mating life of 3-4 years. What sets a brilliant stud male apart for the good ones is the length of active working life, indicating a continued demand, along with the success of his progeny in the Show Ring.

Top stud males can have over 400 progeny on the ground, and an ensuing generational influence of several thousand alpacas. It is important to get the selection as a stud male correct – with that sort of influence on the National Herd.

 

Updated Oct 2012

Nic Cooper and Linda Blake
Main West Coast Road, West Melton, RD1, Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone 0064 3 318-1917 | fax 0064 3 318-1927 | email alpacasnz@xtra.co.nz