FLOWERDALE ALPACAS - Huacaya Alpaca | Alpaca Farming | Alpaca Sales | Alpaca Breeding.

Flowerdale Alpacas

Breeding

Unlike the merino, which has 200 years of breeding development, the alpaca is largely an unimproved animal. Our Aim is to improve the fineness, density and uniformity across the animal. One of the tools we use is the AGE Program.

Across-herd Alpaca Genetic Evaluation (AGE)

Flowerdale Alpacas was an early participant in the AGE Program

We now have six years of data available to us and are starting to identify alpacas with special breeding potential. The Alpaca Breeding Values (ABVs) for our animals are assisting us to make breeding decisions that will potentially accelerate our genetic improvement 3 - 4 fold. These objective assessments are facilitating sound decisions in the selection of females to be joined to our superior stud males. So how does it work?

In 2003 the Australian Alpaca Association implemented a service for all AAA members to assist them in achieving their individual breeding objectives. It is called the Across-herd Genetic Evaluation (AGE) Service. The primary aim of the service is to assist members to maximise their herd's genetic improvement. A broad range of measurable traits is catered for. Whilst involvement of breeders in the AGE service is strictly voluntary, the success of the AGE will play a major role in ensuring prosperous development of the alpaca industry as with other livestock industries.

At Flowerdale Alpacas, our breeding philosophy is based on being able to demonstrate accurately, the genetic superiority of our stock, relative to an accurate industry benchmark.

The Benefits

The key benefits to our buyers:

  • Accurate selection of genetically superior animals
  • Selection of sires for purchase with specific breeding values
  • The ability to select animals objectively, based on the traits that are most important to them in their breeding program
  • Purchase of services from sires proven to be superior in their ability to pass on desirable traits such as fineness and density

Our Aim

At Flowerdale Alpacas, we are breeding to reduce fibre diameter, increase fleece weights and improve uniformity. Therefore our key ABVs are fibre diameter, staple length, fleece weight and CV.

As the data accumulates on our herd, we will be in a sound position to provide buyers with the decision making tools they will be seeking, to make objective breeding decisions, just as highly regarded breeders do in the cattle and merino industries. The AGE offers us (and our clients) far greater predictability and proof of genetic performance gains.

Future Indexed Values

The AGE service is now able to provide an Indexed Value to be used in selecting stock that meets our breeding objective. This index combines the ABV performance of a number of recorded traits into one value. Rather than trying to weigh up fibre diameter, follicular density, fleece weight, body weight and possibly many other traits in your head and then apportioning the correct value to each when selecting alpacas, it is possible to combine these measured traits and present them as one figure.

In addition to making the job of selecting alpacas much easier, it places more emphasis on one particular trait over another when calculating the index. This way you can push your alpaca herd in the direction you want it to go much more easily and quickly.

Maximising your breeding and marketing outcomes

Like other livestock breeders, serious alpaca breeders are constantly striving to improve the breed. Improvement is generally seen as a better "product", and in the alpaca industry, different people may see a better "product" as being different things. For most it will be larger quantities of more valuable fibre, incorporating such things as fineness, softness, lustre, and evenness of colour. For others the emphasis may be on better conformation, higher fertility, bigger body weights, or resistance to disease and illness. These variations in breeding objectives are catered for within the AGE.

The role of genetics

Wherever improvement is sought, genetic factors are likely to play an important part in determining that improvement. Alpaca vary in their ability to deliver that genetic improvement to their offspring. It is the job of geneticists to measure that ability across a range of characteristics (traits), and report to breeders which animals are most likely to pass on their genetic improvement in any given trait to their progeny. They do so by gathering performance and pedigree data, collating these records and applying genetic analysis. Whilst improvement may still occur without this process, the rate of genetic gain is likely to be much slower, and much less certain.

AGE Service

Breeders are invited to measure and collect performance data for their alpacas on traits important to them from a broad range of traits considered to be important to genetic improvement of the breed. The data collected is used to calculate the genetic performance values for individual alpacas and their relatives. The genetic performance values account for the effects of such variables as climate, management, sex and age. Breeders can compare any two individual alpacas evaluated in the AGE, or any individual alpaca with the industry benchmark. They can be also used to benchmark a herd or the industry on a yearly basis, thereby indicating the annual rate of genetic improvement. The traditional method of making genetic improvement through breeding decisions has, in the past, been based on show results, on-farm appraisal, and the comprehensive pedigree and colour records included in the International Alpaca Register (IAR). The IAR is a database owned by the AAA, but independently managed and administered by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI), University of New England, Armidale NSW, on their behalf. The AGE database is similarly owned by the AAA but administered and managed by a professional breeding service (Advanced Breeding Services, Orange NSW), and is linked to the IAR, thus combining two powerful databases with a high level of connectivity. The result is an extremely powerful genetic selection tool that is revolutionising the way in which genetic improvement is progressed in the Australasian alpaca industry.

Small Cost

Members are invited to enrol their alpacas in the AGE service and submit initial data. Members pay a small fee (currently A$5.50 for each enrolled alpaca, regardless of the amount of data entered). For each enrolled alpaca, owners are invited to measure and record any of up to about 30 selected traits according to strict protocols. Those traits and protocols are defined with input from breeders, geneticists and other scientists.

Large benefits

After breeders supply their alpacas' performance records, the AGE service provides reports to breeders for each enrolled alpaca indicating its performance in each of the assessed traits, and also a comparison to the industry benchmark. By measuring those same values in relatives and progeny, geneticists can define what is called an Alpaca Breeding Value (ABV) for each trait. An ABV is a measure of that alpaca's ability to pass on improvement in that trait to its progeny. The value will be reported as a positive or negative value relative to the industry benchmark. ABV are equivalent to EBV used in other livestock industries.

The rate of genetic improvement in alpaca by traditional breeding selection is likely to be about 1% to 1.5% per annum. Experience in other livestock suggests that, if alpaca breeders utilise the AGE service, genetic improvement can be increased to 4 or 5% per annum.

The sales prospects for stud males and females described by genetic performance values are also greatly improved because buyers can select the most suitable animals more accurately and easily.

Improved Accuracy of Breeding Decisions

An alpaca's ABV for a trait is more accurate than its measured performance alone, as it accounts for the following effects on performance which, if not taken into account, will mask an alpaca's "true breeding value":

  • Early age effects. Age of the dam and date of birth of the alpaca must be accounted for so that, for example, an animal born late in the season is not penalised relative to an earlier born animal
  • Pedigree. Pedigree records allow the performance of relatives of an alpaca to be used to more accurately describe the performance that animal will pass on to its progeny. For example, it is known that an animal whose relatives all have well above average performance for a trait will breed progeny that also demonstrate above average performance, notwithstanding that the animal itself may demonstrate only average performance. Pedigree records also provide the benchmarks that allow different mating groups, different years and different herds to be combined in the AGE so that all alpaca ABVs can be directly compared
  • Heritability and Correlations between traits. Once known, the heritability of a trait (how much of an animal's superiority is passed onto offspring) and correlations between traits (the effects of one trait on another) can be accounted for by the AGE analysis. The heritability of a trait's performance can change with age, which is why it will be important to record an alpaca's age and fleece growth at the time of assessment. The degree of constancy of some traits over time (eg. fibre diameter and fibre length) will also be valuable
  • Multiple assessments of a trait. Breeders often obtain several assessments of a trait (e.g. fibre diameter) over the life of an animal and commonly the best estimate of genetic performance is a combination of all assessments for the trait
  • Variation in trait performance. Variation between and within different groups is an effect of the environment and feed the alpaca is subject to, as well as other influences such as prior selection. To obtain accurate ABVs the assessed records need to be standardised to remove the effects of unusually high or low variance in the group resulting from the environment and prior selection

We would be pleased to discuss your involvement in AGE. Call us on 0419 549 666.

RATE OF GENETIC IMPROVEMENT SAID TO BE 4 - 5 TIMES NORMAL

fleece fineness that is significantly superior to the industry benchmark
Flowerdale Valentino (curently for sale) is a special junior stud male with an ABV for fleece fineness that is significantly superior to the industry benchmark.

FLOWERDALE ALPACAS

AAA CERTIFIED

Five Star Breeder

FIVE STAR AGE BREEDER

Prize Winning Alpaca Fleece

Flowerdale Class Act... above average ABVs for fleece weight and diameter
This special male, Flowerdale Class Act, has above average ABVs for fleece weight and diameter.

FLOWERDALE NEWS

12/09/19 | LOST. FLOWERDALE NOLA
Gorgeous female. HIghly attractive. From Prize winning blood lines. Please help me find her. Substantial reward.

07/07/17 | GREY GIRLS READY TO GO!
For 10 years we have been breeding greys. Now our grey females are about to drop this year's crop. Very exciting.

01/04/17 | HERD GUARDS/PETS
Right now we have a few alpaca pets and herd guards. These have been in hot demand recently. So don't miss out Call 0419 549 666