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see West Melton

Alpaca Articles

Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.

They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines in New Zealand, Australia, UK, USA, Germany and France and also through articles on this website and other websites.

Contact us if you wish to use any of our material.

See other interesting alpaca websites by following our links.

Some of these articles of ours are hosted on other websites.
Please let us know if any links do not work or the article has disappeared. Also please let us know if you find our material on other websites without credit to Southern Alpacas Stud.

Click for Basic Alpaca articles:
Getting Started with Alpacas

Considerations in Buying your Alpaca
Farm Layout - Yards and Fencing
General Health - when to do what

First Aid Supplies

Click for Nutrition articles:
Poisonous Plants
Rye Grass Staggers
Nutritional Requirements
Pasture and Nutrition
Facial Eczema

Click for Management articles: |
Camelid Body Scoring
Wintering Alpacas
Vitamin D
Vaccinations and Vitamins
Giving Inoculations

Trimming Toenails
Transporting Alpacas

Shearing Alpacas
Tb Testing 

Click for Birthing and Cria articles:
Nutrition and Pregnancy
Helpful Hints for Birthing
Birth is but the Start  - Care of Cria
Mum's the Word - Care of Dam
Feeding Cria

Frail Cria Care
Premature Alpaca Cria Care

Click for Mating articles:
Herd Improvement through Choice of Studs
Breeding for Grey
Choosing  a Stud Male
Mating Alpacas
Life of a Stud Male
Pregnancy Testing




 

Click for Fibre articles:
Shearing Alpacas
Fantastic Fibre

Alpaca Fibre - How to Assess It
A New View on Fibre
Is this the Age for AGE ?

Aligning Fibre - Part 1
Aligning Fibre - Part 2
Aligning Fibre - Part 3
Aligning Fibre - Part 4
Aligning Fibre - Part 5  
Aligning Fibre - Part 6  

Click for Training articles:
A selection of articles from "Gear Girl"
Training and Handling Alpacas and Llamas
Tteam Principles - Physics, Not Force.
The
Ideal Tools for Training
Balance and Headwork
Haltering
The Camelidynamics Way

Click for Showing articles:
Showing Alpacas
Newcomer to Showing




 

Click for International articles:
Imports - Their Effect on the NZ herd
Exporting Alpacas
Alpacas across the World
Lateral Registry - the genetic risk 

Click for Veterinary Procedures
Prolapsed Uterus
Umbilical Hernia in Cria
Caesarian Birth
Progesterone Pregnancy

BUYING YOUR ALPACA
The quality of the alpaca in NZ has improved immeasurably over the past 12 years - within a single generational lifespan of the animal. It has been achieved far faster than on-farm breeding programmes, by replacing current "models" with better models through import.

 

 

 

Progeny

 

 

 

Pedigree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phenotype

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price

 

 

 

Considerations in Buying Your Alpaca

By Nic Cooper, Southern Alpacas Stud

The alpaca industry is constantly changing.   

The first alpacas brought into the country in the late 1980's were different to those imported in the late 1990's. Bloodstock brought recently from Australia (USA genetics ex Peru) were a step up, and now we see imports direct from Peru.

The quality of the alpaca in NZ has improved immeasurably over the past 12 years - within a single generational lifespan of the animal.  It has been achieved far faster than on-farm breeding programmes, by replacing current "models" with better models through import.

In selecting your alpaca (either females or good stud services) basics are good health, good reproductive capability, zero genetic fault, and type/color to fit your own breeding goals/ business plan.

But you need more. You need the 4 "P"'s of alpaca purchase.

Bloodstock producers, in selection of good bloodlines, look at (in order of importance):

1) Progeny:  genetic quality (genotype) is best judged by looking at the alpaca's offspring -- not just one or two, all of them.   Consistently good progeny equates to strong genetic strength.

Progeny can be measured by visual inspection or judged in the Show Ring.  Looking at progeny is an excellent way of assessing underlying genotype.

2) Pedigree:  younger animals, or newer studs, have no progeny.  In this case the pedigree of the alpaca (available on two registries -- USA and Australasia) assists judgement.  

Parents with good progeny records.  Siblings with Show winning record.  Sires used by respected breeders.  These are indications that the offspring will carry the quality traits of the parent.  Pedigree is a reasonable way of assessing genotype.

Pedigree is harder for the newcomer, because it asumes prior knowledge of world renowned bloodlines.  This means research. Naming a stud " Captain Fantastic", does not mean it is fantastic.

But remember that Australia and USA have had registries for 10 years now, and most of the "venerable ancestors" have significant numbers of offspring on the registry, winning shows, and acting as successful studs in their own right.

South American countries have not yet developed registries.  Imports therefore have no pedigree (and usually no progeny) data to assess.

3) Phenotype:  how an alpaca "looks".  Shear data taken at a time and place, and maybe how well the photo was taken.    When progeny and pedigree data is not available, phenotype is all there is to assess.  Phenotype can be a reasonable proxy for underlying genotype.  Unfortunately not always.  Although you can gain some confidence by selecting from one of the top ranches.

NZ research shows phenotype -- particularly fibre characteristic -- is immensely effected by environment.    Davis concluded on alpacas imported to NZ from South America that fibre micron blow-out from the move to NZ averaged 6.8 micron.  Some alpacas coarsened 11.5 micron, yet others had very little blow out.  (ARJ Winter/Spring 1996). The practical problem is you do not know where each individual alpaca sits on the spectrum, until about 2 years after import!

A subjective view looks at the relative success of stud accoyo males imported into USA in 1994/5 (source --  "Accoyo" book.).  Some of these have had a tremendously positive impact on the alpaca industry in USA, Australia and NZ. Many others faded into mediocrity or obscurity.  Impossible to pick which at the time of import.

4) Price:  clearly the price of your alpaca has to fit your pocket.  Generally higher quality animals carry higher prices.  But beware the reverse price "snob" syndrome.  Whilst a cheap price generally means lower quality, a higher price does not of itself guarantee better quality.

Conclusion

It is necessary to have infusion of new blood into what is, in NZ, a small gene pool. But long-term sustained improvement in the herd in NZ has to drive from proven genotypic quality, not environmentally biased phenotypic data.

And at some time, the development of the breed has to be moved forward by solid breeding programmes, not expensive overseas purchases.   
 

Updated March 2013

Nic Cooper and Linda Blake
Main West Coast Road, West Melton, RD1, Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone 0064 3 318-1917 | fax 0064 3 318-1927 | email alpacasnz@xtra.co.nz