If you are familiar with dog competitions or have already attended animal presentations like me at agricultural fairs or exhibitions, you will not be surprised to know that it also exists in alpaca.
In this article, I want to give you a picture of these necessary events and show you the differences in the competition in alpaca compared to another farm animals.
Reasons to participate in an alpaca competition
1. The advancement of the quality of our herds
These competitions play for the breeding and advancement of the quality of our herds an obvious role; it seeks to compare and classify alpacas in order to recognize the best specimens of the breed, those who will have a greater chance to improve the herds.
Of course, the result remains subjective; The judge in place, the animals present and other external conditions can still vary the results. The supreme male champion of a competition is not the best known breeder, it is simply the male who was awarded as the best by the judge compared to the alpacas in place on that particular date.
But what is the use of competitions if it is so subjective? Despite this subjectivity, remains that an animal that is blow often awarded Supreme champion in several competitions and under the judgement of different professional judge is certainly not a 2 of spades and deserves our regard!
The second most logical reason to participate in these competitions is that they are for the breeder a way to show his animals and establish a certain notoriety for his breeding.
While it may be frustrating not necessarily to finish first, succeeding in a beautiful place is a way for others to respect the quality of our animals and to categorize us more easily as a serious breeder. The harder the ribbon is to get, the more valuable it is, obviously! A sixth of 6 ribbons is not really glamorous. The more animals to compete, the more the ribbon has a value.
Side-by-side comparisons between animals are easier and it is also easier to compare our animals to those of others. To plan purchases, this is an ideal opportunity because you can suddenly see some of the animals of the breeders and make an appointment with him face to face to see others if we are interested.
As the competitions bring together a large quantity of breeder doing exactly the same work on a daily basis, these events are a place of choice to develop contacts and socialize.
Finally, it's a bit like a big 5 to 7... But even more interesting! It talks about subjects that concern everyone, it tells anecdotes that a neophyte would not understand and we make friends. Isolation, especially in the agricultural world is certainly a weakness and having friends in this business can improve our daily lives.
4. Training and education
Finally, competitions also have an absolutely necessary educational role.
Why did an animal finish first in its class? Why did someone else get out of the "ring"? Saying that the first finished first because it is "the best" and the one that was released was because it is "not good" is really superficial.
A first place is sometimes because all the other animals presented were average, other times, because a particular element of its fibre was exceptional compared to the other animals on the spot and that the judge is paying particuliar regard at this point. Sometimes the competition is so tight that the ribbons can be interchanged; But the judge had to decide.
An alpaca out of the ring may be for a particular question that the animal should not reproduce even if its fibre could upgrade the other animals present. Other times, it is a simple competition particularly fierce in the class that makes the animal must be out. You can't give everyone a ribbon or they won't have any value!
Understanding the reasons by listening to the judge explaining her choices is one of the educational elements. But some times, the event is also jointly associated with other educational activities such as seminars, private evaluations, workshops... that pushes us, as a breeder to add to our knowledge.
And there, I have not talked about all the learning that can be done simply by rubbing shoulders, talking with others about our knowledge, our readings... etc.
What's different between a cow competition and an alpaca competition?
Alpaca is an animal that is not bred for the same reasons as the cow.
While the latter occupies a place on the farms for their ability to give milk or to serve for the butchery, the main function of alpaca is to produce a luxurious fleece that is harvested annually by shearing.
The fibre of alpaca therefore has a very important place for breeding and it is taken in great consideration in judgments.
In a competition at halter, for example, the judge will initially examine the conformity of animals before concentrating on the fiber of each animal presented by opening different sections of it on the animal body (shoulders, upper leg, blanket, behind head and neck). It will then note the animal on its peculiarity compared to the others in place. The percentage established for fibre quality is higher than conformity (and should always increase in the next few years) even if conformity is the basis of a good animal. This percentage varies by country and competition. It is enshrined in the regulations.
Competition: First Stage
Want to participate in an alpaca competition in Canada? The first step is to have registered alpagas.
In order to be able to register in Canada, it is normally necessary for both parents to be registered unless the father, without a Canadian registration, is enrolled in the Breed-up program, a genetic Enhancement Program (alpaca listed at 0%).
Genetic defects like having banana-shaped ears (like llamas), more or less than two fingers per foot, having cataracts, having more or less than two testicles for males, having more or less than 4 functional udders in females , being hermaphrodite... etc. are outlawed in registered alpacas and can ensure that an alpaca is immediately released at the beginning of a class judgement.
Breed standards also require that the alpaca have a minimum size at the age of 2 years, i.e. 105 lbs and a height of 32 inches.
Types of Competitions
There are two different kinds of competitions that work differently. They are sometimes associated with the same event.
♦Halter competition; The judge notes as much the animal conformity that parades in front of him as the fibre on his back (at 50-50% or 40-60%). It makes a classification of animals, so it is a comparative competition. The classification of an animal will change according to the animals present at the competition. In the end, the classification of the animal will vary greatly depending on the competition to which it participates.
♦Fleece competiton ; The judge notes the fleece that was sent to him in a bag. The fleece is noted (score of 100) but is not compared to the other fleeces (absolute system). Theoretically therefore, the fleeces should have the same score from one judgement to another. The ribbons are then distributed starting with the highest rated fleeces.
Sub-genre of competitions
♦Composite; The judge notes the sheared animal (comparative part) and the fleece in a bag of its own (absolute system). The scores are counted and the places are then awarded.
♦ Get-of-Sire; The class consists of group entries of 3 alpacas which are the offspring of a male with three different females. The criteria for judging this class is the similarity of the offspring of a male. The judge must therefore determine which group is of greater quality by having in mind the constancy of this quality in the 3 alpacas present.
♦ Produce of Dam; The class consists of entries of at most 2 alpacas descending from the same female. Like the Get-of-sire, it is the highest quality group with a constancy between the different subjects that wins.
♦ Breeders Best Three; The class consists of three alpacas which represent the best subjects of the herd of the breeder. Unlike the Get-of-Sire and the produce of Dam, alpacas are not noted on their similarity but on their individual qualities. It is the group that has the highest quality combined with its three alpacas that wins.
♦ Walking Fleece (New in 2017); The judge only notes the fleece on the back of the animal. The fleece is noted (pointing) but not compared to the others (absolute system). It is made under the same rules as the fleece competition, unlike the fleece is still on the back of the animal. It allows at the same time to be able to compete in the halter (comparative) and a competition with absolute system (walking fleece) on the same animal. This is different from the composite because the animal is evaluated differently in the halter competitions and the results are not summed.