|Llama Owner Information
Breeding & Reproduction
Sutter's Mill Llama Ranch
Bill & Sandy Chickering
Breeding and Reproduction
Female llamas are good mothers, and there is nothing as delightful as the sight of their babies playing and romping. Though females have been known to conceive as early as four to six months of age, they should not be bred until 18 to 24 months, depending on size and development. While males may be fertile at seven to nine months, they arent fully dependable breeders until three years of age when they are socially and sexually mature. Llamas breed in a prone position (male on top), and copulation may take up to 45 minutes. The act of copulation induces ovulation approximately 24 to 36 hours after mating. Gestation averages 350 days, and a single offspring is produced. Twinning is rare and usually not successful. The average weight of a normal newborn llama is 25 to 30 pounds, but can range from 18 to 40 pounds.
Because they are induced ovulators, llamas can give birth throughout the year. Depending on your climate, you should plan breeding to avoid births in the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter. Births normally occur in the daytime. From the onset of normal presentation of both feet and head to birth, 10-45 minutes may elapse. Unlike most mammals, llama mothers do not lick their newborn nor eat the afterbirth. Llama young, called "crias" in South America, begin walking within an hour and should nurse in one to two hours. The placenta is usually passed within four hours. Females are normally bred back three to four weeks after giving birth, and pregnancy can be determined 21 days or more after breeding through an inexpensive laboratory test for progesterone from a small blood sample. Another indication of pregnancy is the female's refusal to breed when reintroduced to the sire.
Llamas, guanacos, alpacas and vicunas can interbreed and should therefore be pastured separately. Males not intended for breeding are gelded at about two years of age, and males which have been bottle fed must be gelded as early as possible to avoid abnormal behavior.