Selection considerations

AGE: Ask for the AGE data – Across-herd Genetic Evaluation – generated for the male. The AGE project, whilst in its infancy, is the first real targeted, mathematical, unbiased key performance indicator system for alpacas. Use it! Match the factors you consider important in your breeding goal with the AGE ranking of various studs you are considering.

Pedigree: Check the registry for the pedigree of the stud and your female for common ancestors, especially with Australasia’s small genetic base.  Line breeding is, in my opinion, an absolute no-no in these animals at this stage of genetic knowledge.

Colour:  Always expect a few exceptions here, but (for example) if you are breeding for whites it is best to breed to a white that is homozygous white, not heterozygous, especially if some of your females display brown spots or fawn glazing.  Breeding for black is genetically the easiest.  Breeding for greys, the hardest. (see our article on this)

Conformation.  All alpacas should have perfect conformation.  But if your female has, for example, slightly sickle hocks do not mate her to a male with a similar trait. If you have a preference for nose shapes, select that way, similarly with body size.

Presence and temperament are at least in part genetic.  If these things are important for you, select for them in your purchase and stud decisions.

Fibre traits are many, and very few stud males are strong in all aspects.  Micron and shearweight are generally seen to be the most important in huacaya, lustre in suri.

But micron and shearweight are contra-indicative – lower micron and higher shearweight do not easily go hand-in-hand.

Remember Don Julio Barreda’s long given advice to fix density in your herd before attempting to improve fineness.

Also consider lustre and fleece character (crimp or style).

Crimp style is becoming a more important breeding selection criteria.

The importance of crimp is still debated. But recent  research (is making things a lot clearer.

In alpaca there is a close correlation between fineness, curvature and crimps per inch (cpi). Higher curvature figures correlate positively to a higher number of crimps per inch, and negatively with fibre diameter (i.e. high curve, and high cpi mean finer fibre.)

Consider uniformity (the percentage of the total fleece that is usable in top grade production). Uniformity changes considerably with age.

Also consider uniformity across your herd. When mixing fleece to make a product, the constituent fleeces should be similar (uniform). Look at your herd statistics, not just individual alpacas, and see how you can select and use studs to minimise your within herd divergence.