Greenbriar Farm Alpaca-MAM Consulting Assoc. Inc.

Where you can get any color alpaca you want as long as it is black.

December 04, 2013

By: Michael A. Morack

Foundation Dams-Building Blocks to Quality

Basics to Pre-potency

When quality females are offered as “production” or “foundation” this seems to trigger a Typhoid Mary response. What no banners? Selecting alpacas from show winners relies only on phenotype. You may say –no- they also have great pedigree!

If your goal is developing a quality line of alpacas that produce consistently higher quality alpacas these are the three weakest criteria when selecting foundation females, show placement, phenotype, and pedigree.

Let us share our experience to support this thinking. We develop a line of true black alpacas for the commercial fleece market. Our selection criteria are very critical to maintain this goal. We show alpacas to compare our results with the top phenotype in the market. Why not say the top breeding pedigree in the country? The reason is what we call “Breed for the Show” alpacas typical in the black huacaya classes. We see many breed black to white hoping for a black because that black may carry the phenotypic improvement from white and will excel against most blacks in the ring but production from this offspring may or may not be able to pass along the genetic gain. They are high quality phenotype with great pedigree and may win banners but have no prepotency. This provides a very expensive lesson that is very expensive to overcome.

This brings us back to “foundation” or “production” dams. They may have won ribbons in the show, they definitely have fleece highly sought after by fiber mills, they have great pedigree, and they have one more thing – consistent, outstanding, improved cria that excel over their parents who in their own right carry forward the genetic gain on their own. That is prepotency.

Production dams are pre-potent and demonstrated their ability to pass along conformational sound, phenotypic improvement, and show winning quality with strong pedigree to support continued growth in all areas. They have demonstrated the ability to produce milk to bring rapid growth and robust cria with high vigor and reduced risk in breeding decisions.