- Alpacas are members of the Camelid family (Vicuña, Guanaco, Llama, and Alpacas) native to the Andean Mountain range of South America. They are primarily found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, and historically provided clothing and transportation to the Incas.
- Alpacas were first imported to the USA in 1984, but have been domesticated for over 5,000 years.
- In ancient times, alpaca fiber was known as the “Fiber of the Gods.”
- Their fleece is hypo-allergenic and contains no lanolin.
- Alpaca fiber is as soft as cashmere, and lighter (but equally warm) as wool.
- Two kinds of alpacas: Huacaya (pronounced wah-KI-ya) and Suri (pronounced Surrey).
- Adult alpacas weigh between 150-200 lbs.
- Alpacas have a three chambered stomach and chew cud.
- Alpacas communicate by softly humming.
- Gestation is 11 months and they give birth to a single baby, called a cria.
- Alpacas are shorn once a year.
- Alpacas are 100% tax deductable & insurable.
April 1st, 2008
The Proof Is In the PuddingPersonally, I cannot count the number of times over the past 28 years that I have heard the saying “The proof is in the pudding.” When it comes to breeding livestock, it is extremely important, but it seems to be forgotten.
“Did you see the ribbons that he has won? I want to breed some of my girls to him.” In the horse world, these comments are very common. Now in the alpaca world, I am hearing the very same. It is driving me crazy! Absolutely, you cannot tell by merely looking at an animal whether or not he will make a good match for your breeding program. You cannot judge by ribbons alone. Remember that the male is only 50% of the genetic picture, and the female completes it by adding her 50%.
When choosing a stud, I first look at the female I am going to be breeding and honestly evaluate her as to what she may need most improved. I then look for a stud that is proven to contribute the desired characteristics to improve the results.
‘Proven’ is a word used in many different ways. In the alpaca industry, many owners say their stud is ‘proven’ because he has successfully impregnated at least one female. Obviously the meaning here is simply that the male is capable of reproducing. What is reproduced is another matter. To me a ‘proven’ stud means a male that is capable of consistently contributing specific traits in breedings to a variety of females.
This proof is the only way to actually know what a particular stud is likely to do. He has a record as seen in his offspring (the pudding). If a female is lacking density, look for a stud that has been proven to put density on his offspring. However, always try to make sure you will not lose other desired qualities by choosing a male that exhibits unwanted characteristics. You want only to take steps forward, not backward, in any breeding program.
When breeding to a virgin stud, there obviously is no pudding, so look at the ingredients. If the parents and the siblings exhibit consistent traits, you stand a good chance that the stud will also pass on those characteristics. There is, at least, a strong possibility that the pudding will be what you want. However, when there is no consistency with the parents, your guess as to what traits the stud will produce is as good as mine.
Please remember the pudding, and know the ingredients before making the choice of stud. You don’t want to wait a year to see if you get the real thing or just a cheap imitation.
NikkiSue Flanigan, East Coast Alpacas