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Boys will be Boys

Stud Males and How to Get it Right. By Nick Harrington Smith, BAS and AOA Judge of Alpaca Evolution.

A little late in the year for some maybe, but with many breeders still making breeding decisions and indeed thinking it may be time to ring some changes it is always useful to review “the what and the why” within your programme.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that those traits we most value are equally important in males and females, but that we might perhaps be a little fussier in respect of our males. The key of course is to be able recognise those traits but perhaps more importantly, avoid that alpaca owner trait, “barn blindness”. For those yet to suffer this affliction, this is when you believe everything you own or have bred is the best. Apparently as I get older my family tell me my “barn blindness” deepens… it’s not even remotely true of course. It is natural to have favourites, but it is unwise to use this as a basis for breeding decisions.

THE SELECTION PROCESS

It is important to remember that males, because they produce many times more offspring in a lifetime, have more impact on herd improvement.

In any breeding programme you have to decide whether you are going to maintain a closed herd and use only home bred males, or buy in services, or indeed buy a new stud male. If the former there are two main challenges, one being the fact that eventually you will end up breeding very closely related lines, possibly leading to “inbreeding depression”, the other of course making a choice based on loving little Freddie, better known as being “barn blind”. If you are buying in services or buying a stud male you still need to make all of the same assessments and if the service provider or vendor can’t provide the answers then walk away.

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