For new alpaca owners, there are pros and cons to buying your own alpaca herdsire. An “outside” herdsire is a male stud alpaca that you do not own, and which resides at another farm. He is “outside” your farm.
Many new alpaca ranchers choose to NOT purchase a herdsire because the females in their starter herd come with a free “breed-back.” That is, the seller allows the new owners to bring the females back for one or more free breedings. Otherwise, the new owner would have to purchase stud fees, or own their own herdsire. Free breed-backs save the new owner money that can be invested in ranch facilities and other aspects of their alpaca business.
Breeding to an Outside Herdsire
Even if your starter-herd purchase contract includes free breed-backs, at some point you will need to purchase the stud services of an outside herdsire. You might want to purchase stud services for the following reasons:
- Your breeding females are too closely related to the herdsires at the selling farm
- Your breeding females are too closely related to the herdsires at your farm
- You want to “breed up” and acquire the genetic characteristics of an exceptionally excellent herdsire
- You want to counter a conformation problem in the dam
- You’ve used up your free breed-backs and you still have no herdsire of your own
Expenses of Buying a Stud Service
If you use an outside stud service, you must pay for the stud service, the costs of transporting a female to and from your farm, and all the vet exams and certifications required for transporting. In addition, if you are sending a female out for breeding, and she has a cria (baby) by her side, you’ll need to pay for the cria’s transportation and vet costs to and from your farm.
Risks of Outside Breedings
When you send a female alpaca out for breeding, you also incur certain risks. A transportation accident could happen to the livestock hauler, for example. You will be exposing your animals to another herd and all the micro-organisms and intestinal parasites at that facility. More importantly, your stud service contract typically gives management control to the owner of the herdsire. Finally, if you send a dam and her cria out for breeding, you will miss the first few months of the cria’s life.
Buying Your Own Herdsire
Yes, it does cost money to buy a nice herdsire, and this is a disadvantage. Money that you spend on a herdsire is money that is not available for other ranch requirements and/or additional breeding females. However if you own a herdsire:
- You can do “spit testing” at any time to see if your females are pregnant
- You don’t have to incur the risks associate with transporting females to another farm
- The herd management of your females and their crias remains under your control
- Your crias can stay at home with their Moms, enabling you the pleasure of their presence
So I encourage prospective clients to consider purchasing a starter herd that includes at least one herdsire that is unrelated to the females in the package. At the very least, that male will earn his keep by performing spit test with the females.