Buying a reproductive alpaca is more complex than buying an alpaca for the production of fibre, in the sense that one should no longer only rely on the animal before us, but also on all its potential.
Although we are mainly looking for some traits in a quality breeding alpaca, your business plan and the goals of your breeding, may be to make sure that you will give more or less interest to certain traits.
The fiber of an breeding alpaca
The fiber of an alpaca that will reproduce must not be good, but excellent. So you have an interest in checking the main parameters of the fiber during your search before buying. We're looking for the top 2 to 5% of the best to become breeders.
The males are the more important to right choose since they will put down several crias a year unlike the females. Nevertheless, an excellent male does not do miracles coupled with a low-end female who will also transmit some of her genetics to the unborn cria. Buying good breeding females is also important.
To select an excellent quality reproductive alpaca, several tools and settings can help. I present them to you; Learn to tame them, that's the key!
Thehistogramis an analysis of a sample of the fiber of the animal, a given year and which gives a wide array of information on the fiber with extraordinary precision. Fineness, variation of this fineness in the sample, proportion of hairs of guard and even, in some histograms, you could see included other data including the angle of the crimp of the animal. A valuable tool that will help you compare animals to each other... and see how an animal ages!
Should we refer only to a histogram before buying? No, the histogram is only one of many that can be distorted when the animal is thin (or too fat!), it is important to have more data to make a choice! Already, it is desirable to have more than one histogram to see the evolution of the animal. Then you have to add your observations with other parameters.
The size of the animal varies the weight of the fleece... and since we choose a breeder, the template will vary that of the offspring as well. This is one more reason to select the size of the animal. A lighter fleece is less fiber and it is also less possible profit per animal.
In addition, the template will have an impact on the ease of reproduction.
A small female will perhaps have more difficulties with her pregnancies/deliveries if the male is larger and a male will probably have more difficulty also to mate a female much bigger than him.
The density of the fiber is measurable by a biopsy of the skin at about 24 months of age.
Few breeders do this analysis and even less systematically because the test is quite costly. A biopsy will give you information on the density (amount of hair per mm/square), but also on the proportion of primary fibres and secondary (finer) fibres whose ratio is another index of the quality of the animal's fleece.
If there is no biopsy done on the coveted animal, you will have to rely on the breeder for density, go and assess the animal yourself or seek the services of a judge for an assessment of the animal. The density is however the parameter which is the most difficult to evaluate without analysis.
Weight of fleece at last shearing
If you have not seen the animal in person, this data will give you an indication of the amount of fibre that the animal produces (regrowth length and density combined). This is a data that must be taken lightly since not overly reliable.
Don't just fies on it because the techniques change from one shearer to another and it can vary the weight. Check also the date of the last shear to know the number of months of regrowth.
Length of fiber
The length of the fiber of the animal is important for the production of the fiber, so it is for a reproductive alpaca also. The length is related to the genetics, the age of the animal, but also to the diet.
In addition to the data on the proportion of guard hairs in the fleece, it is also possible to look at the amount of the animal on its body. The goal is to have as little as possible.
The conformity of a reproductive alpaca
The overall Allure
Good conformity is a matter of proportions and the overall appearance of the animal. Is it that important? Yes.
A conformity problem with a female, for example an arched back, influences the angle of the pelvis and the ability of this female to properly bring her cria to the world.
Reproducing animals with disabilities or physical problems that seem superficial at first glance can have more consequences than you might think.
The legs should be as straight as possible.
We are looking for an animal with the most aligned teeth possible with the upper pad. Good teeth help to better the health of the animal, just like us, since they are the ones that allow them to feed properly.
In males, we look for testicles well down in the scrotum and equal sizes.
In the female, the vulva should not be too small or too long.