Practical Alpaca Breeding
By: Mike Safley
To a person who has never bred animals, let alone alpacas, the technical aspects of genetics and animal breeding theory can be intimidating. It is important to step back and realize than common sense is the common denominator for success. People, who succeed at animal breeding use good information, are deliberate, patient, and consistent and they keep their breeding program simple.
These attributes would make anyone successful at any endeavor. Alpaca breeding can be mastered by anyone that is willing to learn the science of inheritance and apply it systematically. There are no short cuts. If you breed an outstanding male to an inferior female you will see improvement. The cria will most likely not be the equal of the sire but it will be better than the dam. Breed the same dam to an inferior male and the poor result is predictable. It’s common sense.
The science of animal breeding has been established for more than 100 years. The concepts that a breeder needs to master are simple. I do not discuss the technical aspects of animal breeding in this book but you can find full explanations of them in any number of books including two that I have written: Alpacas: Synthesis of a Miracle and Ideal Alpacas: From Myth to Reality. You need to understand: genotype, phenotype, environmental forces affecting animal characteristics, dominant and recessive traits, progeny testing, selection, the random nature of inheritance, the importance of sire selection, breed type, breed standards, the principle of genetic change and hybrid vigor.
These are important subjects and you will need to do a fair bit of reading to become conversant with them but the rewards are there for the diligent breeder. Reading alone will not complete your education. You will need to become familiar with alpaca history and lore. Talking with fellow breeders is helpful and there will be no substitute for your practical experience.
Good decisions require good information. In alpaca breeding that means good information about production traits such as fleece weight, fiber fineness, fleece architecture, and breed type. You will need good pedigree information and production statistics on individual animals. Good records take time to collect. There are no short cuts.
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