Catherine Wehage By Catherine Wehage | January 31, 2018

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Choose one of three books written by international alpaca judge, Mike Safley:

The Alpaca Chronicles: The Alpaca Chronicles takes the reader on a journey that began forty million years ago. You will experience the North American home of the original camelids and walk with them along the length of the Pacific coast to the Bering land bridge, into Asia, or trek south through Panama to the grass pampas of the Southern hemisphere, where these even-toed refugees from North America became guanacos and vicuñas. Discover how they made peace with their natural enemy, man, and how both prospered as a result. Learn why alpacas and llamas were the only mammals over a hundred pounds to be domesticated in the Americas, North or South. Meet the first animal breeder, an Englishman named Robert Bakewell, and discover the history of animal breeding. Find out how Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel’s work created the basis for all of the natural sciences in what became known as the modern synthesis. Learn how alpacas made their way back to North America after a twelve-thousand-year absence. Then discover the industry that grew around the gentle, doe-eyed alpacas beginning in 1984. Who was responsible for creating the Alpaca Registry? Who was AOBA’s first president? How did the Alpaca Registry finally free itself from the International Lama Registry? How did AOBA grow to become a marketing juggernaut, and why did alpaca owners fight to close the Alpaca Registry? The Alpaca Chronicles is a history of the alpaca, animal breeding, and the North American alpaca community. The story is told from first-person accounts, by the author, industry records, and from the mouths of the participants—blow by blow, the facts, the politics, and the delightful details.
The Alpaca Shepherd: The Alpaca Shepherd walks both new and experienced breeders through the process  of building barns and fences, caring for cria, breeding and reproduction, delivering babies and creating a breeding program. The text is accessible and easy to understand, free of jargon and technical terms. The book is based on the author’s 20 years of hands on experience with alpacas and was edited by prominent Alpaca Veterinarian Dr. Paul Jones. The resource section is a comprehensive guide about where to buy everything from fences to fine alpaca sweaters.
Ideal Alpacas: In Ideal Alpacas: Synthesis of a Miracle, I set forth the methods of selection and the classic livestock breeding systems necessary to organize and promote genetic gain.  But, any “gain” will be subjective and haphazard without some kind of breed standard against which we can judge the outcomes of our breeding efforts.  I have written Ideal Alpacas: From Myth to Reality to evoke, by both picture and word, the presence of a highly evolved, productive alpaca.Over the years I have observed that a number of alpaca breeding myths have taken up residence in the minds of alpaca breeders.  Part fact, part fiction, a myth is defined by Roget’s New Thesaurus as, “any fictitious idea accepted as part of an ideology by an uncritical group.”  Alpaca breeding myths cloud and distort the picture of the ideal alpaca and interfere with our efforts to solve breeding puzzles and achieve the goal of herd improvement.  In this book, we will identify a number of the myths found below, analyze them critically, and I hope, change the way alpaca owners approach their breeding programs.

Country of origin equals a particular quality bloodline, or a specific type.Chilean alpacas are one type, Bolivian are another type and that Peruvian alpacas are the superior type. Imported suris are pure. Breed standards are bad for the alpaca breed. It is hard to breed for conformation and it is easy to improve the fleece. Leg conformation traits should be corrected by selection and breeding. The best alpaca is the one with the best histogram. Like begets like. Show-winners are superior breeding stock. Crimp is not an important characteristic in huacaya fleece. Pedigree equals breeding value. The best way to select elite breeding stock is by analyzing their phenotype. Breeding like to like, by phenotype, and outcrossing, by pedigree, will create an improved animal and therefore an improved herd.

 

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