IMPORTS - their place in genetic improvement
IMPORTS - Their Effect on the NZ Herd
By Nic Cooper, Southern Alpacas Stud
Recently I wrote about the importance of
the “4 P’s” – Progeny, Pedigree, Phenotype and Price – in selection of your
alpacas, be they female breeding stock, or stud males.
I briefly mentioned there are some alpacas that are gaining reputation as
“venerable ancestors” of the more established herds in Australia and USA.
To help newcomers to recognize these names, and the role they play in the
genetics of the NZ herd, I am going to “name names” here. I have to state at the outset that
these are my opinions. Other breeders will hopefully generally agree, but may
have a number of different males in their list of preferences.
Early imports into NZ
The first shipments of alpacas into NZ were a motley crew. From Chile, they were
bought from local villages by (then) new breeders inexperienced in alpaca
They were called “foundation stock”. Their greatest asset was the range of
colour they provided, and the large frame they displayed (some said somewhat
llama like!). Some lines carried inbred genetic fault (ears and tails
Most animals in NZ will have some generational link to these foundation alpacas,
one way or another.
Importer financial strife led to most of these animals going to Australia to
become their foundation stock too. So many imports now from Australia will have
a NZ lineage, way back.
Whereas NZ basically stopped importing then until 1997, Australia continued.
In the early 1990’s, when Peruvian imports were banned to Australia, an
enterprising Australian walked 6 very well selected accoyo males (and some
equally good females, IAR # 2407 – 2428) across the border and imported them to
Australia as Chileans. They were referred to for many years as being from "North
Now known as Cheruvians, and herd named “Purrembete” they
changed the face of the Australian industry.
These alpacas still continue to provide offspring and later generations that win
shows and remain highly sought after.
To put it beyond doubt, and in order of (my) preference, these males were:
Highlander – just the best, but now deceased
Inti – huge shearweight in fawn
Ledgers Dream – exquisite conformation
Sir Titus Salt
Snowman – now retired
You will see these males in the pedigree of many of the quality alpacas you buy
Later imports from Peru simply failed to produce (with the odd exception)
alpacas of the genetic quality as these Cheruvians. They have become the
undisputed “venerable ancestors” of the Australasian herd.
About the same time as the Cheruvians were walking south to Chile and Australia
(1994 and 1995), US importers were raiding the accoyo herd (and others) of their
best stock, offering prices previously unheard of in Peru.
Again done by good stock analysts, and supported by vet (phenotypic) screening
these animals laid the foundation for improvement of the US herd. Only a few
actually prospered to become the venerable ancestors of the US herd. Many more
fell by the wayside, or (worse) got tainted by carrying genetic fault.
Some have an influence: some being bought by Australians; some having done stud
tours to Australia; some have produced offspring that have come this way. So
joining the famous 6 Cheruvians (above) we need to add the following names:
Hemingway (the king in USA, regarded like Highlander is in Australia)
ILR Peruvian Legend (NB there are several “Legends”)
Royal Fawn (very very limited in Australasia)
Pluro (now deceased)
Cordero (very limited Australasian exposure)
Sonoma (now deceased)
Plus a number of others (such as Allin Capac and Auzengate) that may well rate.
The odd exception
Whilst the above (and their progeny) have just about dominated the Australasian
scene, there are a limited number of alpacas from other shipments that have had
a major influence on the Australasian herd.
Sculptor (now deceased)
Jolimont Conquistador (NB Jolimont, there are several males named Conquitador!)
Interesting that most of the other real icons are part of the above venerable
Later Imports to NZ
NZ did receive a number of Peruvian animals from later Australian shipments, in
the late 1990's. These came via Australia, and tended to be what was “left over”.
Whilst improving the basic Chilean fibre characteristics, they failed to lift
the NZ herd anywhere near the Cheruvian stock.
A more recent accoyo import may produce some alpacas that equate. US and
Australian accoyo shipments in the past have shown a small percentage come
through. Time and progeny analysis will tell which of the latest batch will
stamp their mark.
In 1997 Southern Alpacas started importing Cheruvian genetic stock into NZ. We
began with studs to lift the quality of our own herd, and then imported females.
Offspring of the US imports, and a US stud male followed. Other notables were
imported in later years.
Subsequently other breeders have followed our lead.
Much of the quality stock in NZ is linked genetically to these venerable
ancestors. There are no great NZ homegrowns that do not stem genetically from
That we have most of the above genetics on our farm and behind our most
successful stud males is a passing comment. They need (in NZ) to live by their
own successes and the success of their own progeny, and young males from the
Cheruvian and US lines are proving their worth with their progeny in the show
ring (MoonShine, Inca Herald, High South and Brutus).
Despite all of the above there are pitfalls for the buyer to beware.
An alpaca with a venerable ancestor as grandsire only has 25% of the ancestor
genes in it. The other 75% has a far greater influence. What is that like?
A great way of increasing the price of a foundation female is to mate her to a
venerable ancestor. But 50% great + 50% atrocious = 100% mediocre.
I have talked about males in this article. The last message I would like you to
take from it is that the female is equally important !