Thursday, October 16, 2008

Which Sire to Hire?

As a new breeder, I usually selected males for my open females based on how attractive they were. My idea was to choose a male that I would like my cria to look like. Often the sire’s owners would make suggestions, but I was never clear exactly WHY they were suggesting that particular male. Back then, all alpacas were lovely and if the male had a few ribbons, a few nice cria on the ground, and the price was reasonable – then it seemed like a good choice. Today, with more experience under my belt, breeding decisions require more thought. Let’s look at some of the steps to take when choosing a herdsire.

1. Assess Your Female
When you purchase females, it is a good idea to ask the Seller about the female’s strengths and weaknesses. (Like people, alpacas have both.) This is a good starting point. If your female was born on your farm and you are new to alpacas, you may experience “barn blindness”. This can happen to long time breeders too so don’t feel bad. But when starting out, most of us think that all our alpacas are wonderful and we can be blind to their flaws. A more experienced alpaca breeder can help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your little darling. Ask an alpaca friend, expert, or the herdsire’s owner to help you assess your girl.

Another way to have your alpaca assessed is by entering her in an AOBA sanctioned alpaca show. Halter shows are a great way to meet other breeders. Watching the show will help you learn about the best alpacas in your area. Listening to the judges discuss their placements will teach you more about what makes an exceptional alpaca. Consider both fleece and conformation. Ask to look at the Champion and Reserve Champion alpaca’s fleeces as they exit the ring. This can teach you a lot about what the alpaca industry is breeding towards.

For assessing fleece, nothing is better than an AOBA Fleece Show. You will have to skirt your fleece beforehand. Some shows allow you to mail in your fleece. This is one way to get a judge’s opinion of your alpaca’s fleece without the extra expense of hotels, transportation, and missed days of work. Your alpaca will receive a scorecard with various scores on different aspects of her fleece. While winning ribbons is great, even if you do not win, you will receive feedback from the judge that will be valuable as you prepare to breed your female. Now you have assessed your here to continue reading.

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