The Quality Route to Breeding Success

Home > Articles > Breeding & Reproduction

If you wish to take a quicker route to create a successful alpaca stud than that outlined in Beginning Breeding on a Budget, you will obviously need to be prepared to invest more funds in your fledgling business than those who choose the slower method of “breeding up” the quality of their alpacas. You will need to determine how much you wish to invest in your alpaca venture, and decide whether you would rather invest in a few highly priced animals, or pay slightly less per animal and have a few more. Also, whether you wish to purchase a stud male or prefer to utilise the variety of very high-class studs available by paying higher stud fees should be another consideration.

Pedigree Matters! What you see isn’t always what you get- the physical appearance of an animal doesn’t always match it’s genetic inheritance – a good looking animal with poor genetics will not produce the standard of cria you are looking for, and conversely an average appearing animal with good genetics will consistently produce better than expected off-spring. The pedigree points to the genetic inheritance much more strongly than simple appearance – learn to look for quality alpacas in the pedigree of any alpaca you are considering adding to your herd. DNA Parent Verification ¬†(look for the AANZ logo) indicates the listed parentage of your alpaca is accurate.

Good quality females are usually priced from $3000 to $7,000 Рif they have a female cria at foot expect to pay in excess of $9,000 for the package. High quality females generally exceed $7,000 and with a female cria at foot may reach significantly more. At The Alpaca Place, you can take advantage of our extended purchase plan, with payment for your alpacas spread over 12 months. This interest free arrangement may help you buy better quality, more expensive alpacas than might otherwise be the case.

Unlike those who choose the “budget” path, whose goal is to simply purchase healthy reproductive animals, you will need to be much more selective as regards conformation and fleece quality. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming a higher price means better quality: do your homework to ensure you are receiving value for money. Before you buy, spend time learning what makes a good alpaca. There is some data and rules-of-thumb that can help you, but generally speaking, exposure to good quality alpacas over a period of time is the only way to learn to discern the outstanding from the good, the average, the mediocre and the poor. Attend alpaca shows (these are held in conjunction with most major A&P Shows), and make the effort to talk to exhibitors – often a jubilant winner will be more than happy to discuss their animal’s good points – join the Alpaca Association and study their literature – including the adverts – and take part in any alpaca activities in your area and further afield, visit existing stud farms, learn to understand histograms. Learn the Alpaca Association written standard describing the “ideal” alpaca. Translating the written word to the living alpaca isn’t easy, and the perfect alpaca doesn’t exist, but it will all help with your goal of learning to identify quality animals.

We recommend that you choose to specialise in either huacaya or suri, rather than have mixed goals. It is better to achieve well in one field than be “Joe Average” in two, and most people with small herds cannot do justice to two varieties.

You will be looking for females in the peak of their reproductive ability, with at least 1 cria on the ground. The ideal age is between 4 and 8 years, but there is room for flexibility here! Fleece statistics will vary with age, but she should have a dense fleece with good crimp and soft “handle”. Early statistics are not always available, but if they are, they should have been shearing in the low 20’s micron up to 2 or 3 years of age, and the longer they have held low micron the better.

You will be looking for females that do not exhibit undesirable inheritable (genetic) conditions: be aware however, that not exhibiting a condition does not mean your female does not carry the genetic code for such, but does mean you will have a reduced chance of anything undesirable occurring in your herd. Have a pre-purchase vet check done: giving your vet a checklist based on the Alpaca Association Male Certification Standards may help him/her to advise on any undesirable conditions present.

The quality of your successive generations will not only depend on the quality of your female, but the quality of the stud she is mated to. You will be looking at female already pregnant to a high quality or premium stud, and your future choices of matings are all important. With a small herd of above average or quality females, you may be better served by paying stud fees than purchasing a quality male of your own who will then be under-utilised in relation to his purchase price. Once again, a high stud fee is not a guarantee of quality, but you would not expect a premium stud to be cheap! Have a look at all your options before making a selection: if your female has any weakness, you will want the stud you choose to be strong in that area, but don’t over-compensate: for example if you have a female with a long neck, choose a stud with excellent length of neck, not one that is over-short. See Choosing a Stud Male for more detail.

We have quality alpacas for sale in a full range of colours.  Call us now!