- for both Male and Female alpacas and llamas
For Female or Male Alpacas
Reproductive efficiency is vital in any livestock breeding business. Any period of time during which a reproductively sound female alpaca is not pregnant translates to a wasted investment. In an ideal world, a female alpaca is bred back 21 days after she gives birth and is pregnant for an average of 343 days. This gives an ideal interval between successive parturitions of approximately 364 days, or about one year. It is important to keep as close to this ideal as possible in order to have females giving birth during the ideal birthing months (Spring and Summer) or they will gradually slip back such that you are left with having to decide whether to breed a female in the Autumn or leave her until the following Spring, which wastes even more time.
Obviously, not every female will conceive every time: overall conception rates in alpacas are around 55%, so you have to expect some females will not become pregnant the first or even second time they are presented to the male. However, if a female is consistently repeating the same behaviour and not conceiving, there will be a reason for this. A breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) by a vet with camelid-specific reproduction experience is the quickest way to find out what is wrong. Endlessly repeating breedings or continuously presenting a non-receptive non-pregnant female to a male in the hope that things might change is not only wasting time (and money), it may also make things worse.
Female Breeding Soundness Evaluation
- PRE-PURCHASE: To ensure that your alpaca has no problems that would prevent it from being a breeding animal
- PRE-BREEDING: To ensure that a young male or female alpaca is mature enough to be bred, and has no abnormalities that would prevent it from breeding successfully
- FOLLOWING A DIFFICULT BIRTHING: A post-dystocia check 10-14 days following an assisted or difficult delivery is to evaluate the reproductive tract and address any issues that may become difficult or impossible to resolve if left until later. For example, a uterine infection is more likely following dystocia and if this remains untreated, it may result in chronic endometritis and subsequent infertility, having a longer term impact on a female’s future reproductive success. In addition, vaginal tears that are not addressed soon after delivery may result in the formation of scar tissue across the vaginal vault and make it impossible for future breeding to take place – and is entirely preventable if recognised and treated at the appropriate time.
- FAILURE TO CONCEIVE
WHAT TO EXPECT OF A FEMALE BSE
A Breeding Soundness Evaluation typically involves an initial interpretation of history, physical findings and evaluation of the reproductive tract itself. The reproductive examination should include inspection of the external genitalia, ultrasonographic evaluation of the entire reproductive tract including the ovaries, each uterine horn, the uterine body, cervix and vagina as well as a vaginal examination. Depending on the individual, a culture from the uterus may be indicated, or flushing of the uterus under ultrasound guidance so that you can ensure first of all that the flush is in the uterus and secondly observe any filling defects that might help achieve a diagnosis (eg endometrial cysts or segmental aplasia of the uterus). Flushing of the uterus may also be therapeutic in some cases. Other diagnostic tests may also be recommended based on the findings of the initial examination: these may include hormone analysis, biopsy or endoscopy of the uterus.
Male Breeding Soundness Evaluation
As with female evaluation, the breeding soundness evaluation can be performed as a pre-purchase examination for mature or inexperienced males, or also prior to the breeding season while also being the only way to evaluate a male in the case of subfertility.
- Most easily performed at my workplace in Oxfordshire where the patient can be placed in a camelid-specific restraint chute such that usually no sedation is required. If necessary, farm visits can be arranged for multiple animals depending on location. Travel costs will be extra.
- Pricing information (subject to change, please call/email for current information):
- A single female breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) costs £200: this includes physical examination, evaluation of external genitalia, a rectal ultrasound of the reproductive tract (uterus and ovaries) and a vaginal examination. If other tests are required, they will be added separately (eg uterine culture and hormonal analysis lab fees, uterine flush, hysteroscopy etc …)
- A male BSE costs £150, plus £75 if semen evaluation is also undertaken. If semen evaluation is required, a “clean” open (and receptive) female will be required – you will be responsible for bringing this female.