Merck Manual

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Features of the Reproductive Cycle

Features of the Reproductive Cycle


Age at Puberty

Cycle Type

Cycle Length

Duration of Estrus

Best Time to Breed

First Estrus After Parturition



10–12 mo, usually first bred ~14-15 mo

Polyestrous all year

21 days (18–24)

18 hr (6–24)

Insemination from midestrus until 6 hr after end of estrus

20–60 days

Ovulation 10–12 hr after end of estrus.


6–9 mo

Seasonally polyestrous, early fall to winter

17 days (14–20)

24–36 hr

18–20 hr after onset of estrus

Next fall

Ovulation near end of estrus.


5–7 mo

Seasonally polyestrous, early fall to late winter

21 days

24–48 hr

Daily during estrus

Next fall

Many intersexes born in hornless strains.


6–7 mo

Polyestrous all year

21 days (19–23)

40–60 hr

Daily during estrus

4–10 days after weaning

Ovulation usually ~40 hr after beginning of estrus.


10–24 mo

Seasonally polyestrous, early spring through summer

~21 days (19–23)

5–7 days

Last few days of estrus, just before ovulation; should be bred at 2-day intervals

4–14 (9) days

Ovulation usually 1–2 days before end of estrus. Double ovulation occurs in ~20% of estrous periods, but twins rarely progress to term.


12–18 mo

Polyestrous all year in North America

Not applicable

Up to 36 days

When a large, viable follicle is present

Fertile within 15–20 days

Alpacas are induced ovulators.


6–24 mo; earlier in smaller breeds, later in larger breeds

Monestrous all year

6–7 mo

9 days (3–21)

Second day after ovulation

4–5 mo

Proestrous bleeding 7–10 days. Ovulation usually 1–3 days after onset of estrus. Ova shed before first polar body has been extruded (primary oocyte).


4–12 mo

Seasonally polyestrous, spring through early fall

14–21 days

6–7 days

Daily from day 2 of estrus

4–6 wk

Induced ovulation 24–48 hr after breeding. Pseudopregnancy lasts 40 days. Infertile matings delay onset of next cycle ~45 days.