Herd reduction sale going on now - email for details!
p style="text-align: center;">strong>span style="font-size: small;">Purchase Strategies/span>/strong>/p>p>Successful livestock breeding requires a basic understanding of breeding and selection. This does not mean extensive schooling or study in livestock genetics, but an awareness of what are desirable and undesirable characteristics and how to select for them should be understood. /p>p>In the business of breeding alpacas, these are important business decisions.  Many camelid health and genetic issues such as fleece color for example are still not completely understood - breeding alpacas offers a life-long opportunity for everyone to learn - business or hobby! /p>p>If one plans to "raise" alpacas (as opposed to breeding them), then simply buy animals you like and that fit into your plans and budget - the breeding and selection decisions that were made to get them that way are of no importance./p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Breeding quality vs. pet quality /span>/em>/strong>/p>p>Different levels of quality are found in all livestock breeds. In the US, alpacas are often thought of in two groups and consequent price ranges. /p>ul>li>Breeding quality animals, (sometimes referred to as "show" quality), are genetically sound and have outstanding breed characteristics in the way of fiber and conformation. They tend to have better pedigrees and typically command higher prices. These are the alpacas that are chosen to reproduce their desirable characteristics. br /> /li>li>With in the “breeding quality” group there are still further levels of quality ranging from elite animals to average to below average. As new generations improve over the last, animals that are not improving or not keeping pace with national averages often see value and price decline. br /> /li>li>Pet quality animals (sometimes referred to as “companion” quality) are usually animals that are lacking in one or more desirable characteristics and whose genes should be taken out of the genetic pool as to not further propagate undesirable or below average qualities. These animals are still sound, can make wonderful pets, and can also be very useful as well as profitable, as fiber producers. This group costs less than breeding quality animals. /li>/ul>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Huacaya vs. Suri/span>/em>/strong>/p>p>Within the species, there are two types of alpacas:/p>ul>li>strong>em>Huacayas/em>/strong> (pronounced wha-ci-a) comprise approximately 90% of the world alpaca population. Their fleece has crimp, is woolly in appearance, and is easier to spin and knit than sheep's wool. br /> /li>li>strong>em>Suri/em>/strong>em> /em>comprise approximately 10% of the world alpaca population, but are more prevalent in the US than other countries. They are distinguished from Huacayas by their fiber, which is finer, straighter and falls in locks. /li>/ul>p>Both are beautiful animals, but it seems breeders / owners tend to have a personal preference of one to another. Each has it's particular niche in the alpaca market in the US and keeping both is not uncommon. /p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Breeding and Production Strategies/span>/em>/strong>/p>p>There are numerous business strategy options when deciding to breed alpacas: /p>ul>li>Purchasing one or more females (bred or open) and one male (a breeding pair) is one strategy. /li>li>Purchasing one or more females (bred or open) and obtaining the services of outside herd sires is another and more common strategy. /li>li>The purchase of a premier herd sire to generate income from breeding commissions is another approach.  /li>li>Others start out purchasing pet quality animals to "get their feet wet" in alpaca husbandry before deciding to turn their hobby into a business. /li>/ul>p>If pursuing alpacas as a span style="text-decoration: underline;">business/span>, it is recommended throughout the livestock industry that you purchase the healthiest, highest quality animals you can afford. Do not sacrifice quality for volume! Like every other livestock industry, it is the livestock with the best genetics combined with the best production characteristics that bring the highest price levels. /p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Purchase of a Stud/span>/em>/strong>/p>p>Purchase of a stud is a very important decision. This is the genetic foundation of your herd for generations to come and will ultimately contribute to the North American gene pool in someway. Because breeding studs should be superior animals, it is commonly thought that only 10% of males should be used for breeding. Males with poor conformation, presence, fiber, or are carriers of genetic defects should not be used. br /> br /> Many breeders do not start out purchasing a stud, choosing instead to diversify their herd genetics by outside breeding before committing to a particular herd sire. br /> br /> When purchasing a herd sire, choose the best quality stud you can afford, keeping in mind the individual characteristics you wish to breed for. Do you best to inspect the Herdsire's offspring - this is the strong>span style="text-decoration: underline;">only/span>/strong> true test of a viable stud and greatly lessens the risk of not producing what you selected him for.  If he does not reproduce his qualities, or improve a Dams qualities, he is worth very little to a breeding program. /p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Colors/span>/em>/strong> /p>p>There are 22 recognized alpaca colors, with approximately 250 shades among those 22 colors. Everyone has a color they are partial to. Be careful not to get caught up in popular color trends, as trends change like the weather (i.e. bell bottoms). Don't set aside the importance of fiber and conformation because a certain alpaca is your favorite color. (Much easier said than done - we know...) /p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Fiber characteristics/span>/em>/strong> /p>p>Alpacas have been bred for their fiber for over 5000 years. This is their job - they are fiber production animals just like sheep and angora goats. Just as it is, always has been, and always will be in their native South America, strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">fiber/span>/em>/strong> is the market for alpacas worldwide. Purchasing and breeding alpacas with high quality fiber will position breeders for what will inevitably become a principle income source in the future. /p>p>Fineness, staple length, density, fleece character (crimp / lock structure) and brightness are several of the fleece characteristics that should be carefully evaluated when purchasing alpacas. /p>p>strong>em>span style="text-decoration: underline;">Conformation /span>/em>/strong>/p>p>Conformational soundness in livestock species is extremely important. Animals with poor conformational characteristics cannot perform to the standards that breeders and producers demand and are ultimately at risk of poorer health in general. Although to date the US lacks a recognized breed standard, great care should be taken to understand what characteristics make alpacas conformationally correct. Because of the limited size of the North American gene pool and the greater influence any given alpaca has on it, animals with known genetic deformities should not be allowed to reproduce./p>