Saturday, December 20, 2008
Screening alpacas for the British Market place is not as easy as everyone thinks.
Not all alpacas will pass screening, even if they are National Champions does not guarantee the passing of the British Alpaca Industry Screening process. The reason being, when an alpaca is shown in the ring, there are a number of physcial traits that are not being checked, and that is not to say they should be checked, i am not saying that at all. The traits that are being tested for when screening is to try and aliminate all genetic faults,for instance- Kink or bend or a knob at the end of the tail. I explained the reason for this on a previous blog http://mariahhillalpaca.blogspot.com/2008/12/bent-tails-alpaca.html
more than 4 nipples, (no blind nipples, no double nipples), laxating patella, a closer examination on teeth- that they are central all aligned, (as to the slight angle, means that they could eventually throw a wry face), bent legs, http://mariahhillalpaca.blogspot.com/2008/12/conformation-straight-legs.html
again on a previous blog link above, are a few of the major things that are checked for to pass screening. There are two screeners, one is for the physical traits, who is an accredited veterinarian that is employed by BAS, and the other a Judge, that was a breeder, but now is solely employed by BAS. Both screeners, are extremely professional, and i must say, their knowledge always knocks me over, that very simple things to someone else, is picked up, and then explained about the complexity and importance of the fault, most would miss. Elyse always assists the screeners, with the handling of the alpaca, and to make sure that the tape is in place for measuring the height of the alpaca, the scales are working right, and the area for the alpaca to be screened is clean, and all is reaThe judge screener, takes a midside sample, which he takes two samples. One sample is sent to a place in the USA called Yocum McCall, whilst other sample is kept as the reserve sample. There are sometimes alot of controversy over the screening process, as the screening process really is acceptable for alpacas in the age range of 18 months -2.5 yrs old.
Rarely are working (males or pregnant females) older than these ages will pass, and if they do pass, it means that these alpacas are very, good, to be able to meet the tough screening rules for a younger animal. Just recently, two 11 year old meales passed screening, which is a credit to the males, as they are holding such fineness, and these are the type of alpaca that should be used for genetic gain, and they can compete against
qualities of alpacas 9-10 years younger than them. The biggest contorversy of the screening is the fibre testing. We are told that the fibre length has to be 2 inches in length, which it makes ease of handling if it is, but it can be tested if length is slightly smaller than this length. Yocum McCall tests the cutting edge of this fibre sample. Which can throw the micron out anything up to 6 microns, and the SD out by 2-3, which will throw again the Cv out, (as this is a calculation of the Micron divided by the SD). Breeders ask why are they measuring just the cut edge, most fibre test will measure the length of the fibre and then averaged out along the
fibre length (although the above histogram is a good histogram, it does not explain exactly what i am talking about but you can see this a little), if you look at the graph on the right side, you will see a line, which is the measurement at the length of the fibre. So for instance if there is 12 months growth on the fibre, you will see, when the alpaca was shorn which is the beginning of the line on the left hand side, the fibre was 15 microns, (maybe also, he was shorn in the summer, when there is not as much goodness in the grass, or he had just been taken of his dam (which this bay had), which means he now does not have the goodness of his dams milk, and he takes a bit to adjust , which will drop the micron), but also envirpomental conditions can play on this, if there is not enough feed, then fineness will come from starving, or if too much feed, and high in protein, then the microns will go up. But when the fleece was shorn at the right hand side of the line on this graph, you will see that it measures higher, again, enviromental conditions can cause this, as the alpacas are shorn late spring, before the summer, when there is a lot of goodness, and plentiful grass, and so this will make his micron higher.
So if we are looking at an alpaca who is higher in micron, and they were screened in the end of spring, for einstance, the micron can be alot higher than the average of the fibre, and can make the difference of passing or not passing. The stress of the vendor and the purchaser whilst they are waiting for the screening results are often so high. So the question is often asked, why are they measuring the fibre at the cut edge, it is not fair.
I asked my fibre tester this question, as i wanted to understand it so much better.
Of course Elyse had already studied thismethoid at the Wool School, Geelong. And the reason is really very clever.
This is his answer-
While Yocum McCall are only able to measure the variation at one point along the staple, (fibre length) we can do it right along the staple giving a more accurate picture of both genetic and environmental influences. (we are able to separate the two – another post called genetic gain, which i will write so keep an eye out). I understand they are looking at variation in fibre diameter between the fibres in any given staple (fibre bundle) – this is a good indicator of genetic potential.
Taking a measurement across one section of the fibre will give you a measurement of variation between individual fibres – this is important as it does not allow environmental influences to affect the test. Once you accumulate a series of measurements along the fibres, then environmental influences will affect the readings.
The problem is that the different fibres within a staple grow at varying rates. That’s why the base is used because the difference in growth rate is not evident at the base. When you measure the variation at the tip, the varying degrees of growth rate will have an influence on the degree of variation between the fibres. At the tip, the variation between fibre is normally greater because at that point the fibres have been growing for different amounts of time.
Elyse says, it is a true measurement, and BAS is correct in screening the alpacas in this way.
as it is the only true measurement at that one time of the alpaca, that they can measure.
ONe alpaca, may grow 1 inch of fibre in 1 month, wehere another can grow only 1/2 inch of fibre in that one month, so you cannot measure the alpaca's potential and knowing exactly at what time the fibre growth was measured, this way you can.
At that one point of time, when the fibre was cut, at an even distance from the skin (against the skin), then it is the true measurement.
Another very important point my fibre guy said. It is the measurement to look for potential of genetic gain, and to the ability to throw that genetic gain to the next generation.
I hope i explained this well enough, and i look forward to any questions, or comments on this.
It is very complicated, but i can say from my experience, as being an assistant or handler for the screeners, that the very best alpacas pass screening, and the screeners, are completely unbiased. They have no idea who the alpaca is, who the owner is, on our farm, again they have no idea, as the alpacas are not on the property of origin. The screeners also take their honor and responsibility very seriously, and i respect the two screeners in AUstralia.
BAS have selected the best people to take on this very important process.....which ultimately will mean the very best alpacas from the Australian herd will be exported under this process.
Nothing in my experience with any genetic faults gets passed the screeners.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Of course ELyse is a villian...a PirateLauren is GI Jane
I hear a great time was had by all
All i seem to be doing is working, working and working.
I get up very early in the morning, and i am at the computer, non stop, until late at night. There is still so much work to be done, I really do not know how we can get it all done in time.
Rob also is so busy, he has not stopped, he has worked 7 days for months now, and he cannot get on top of it all. Xmas is near, i do not think we will be celebrating Xmas this year. There seems to be no xmas spirit.
Now approx. 19.5 years old, and still gaining pregnancies, this grand Old man, says it all.
ONe trait breeders forget is Longitivity. A great asset if this male is producing stunning progeny that have genetic gain, fine microns, low SD & CV's, and beautiful stapling, time and time again, increasing density, correct conformation, excellent fertility, then you really want to get the most of this type of alpaca.
Stefano has approx 600 progeny on the ground, many Supreme Champions,and Sire's Progeny Group Champions on Royal and National level.
..".The Master"....as one client said to us, .........why go to the master when we can go to the Master's Master....."Stefano"
A sign of a great herdisre is if he leaves his trademark .... Stefano stamps his cria year after year, Proven by his Progeny.
A good breeding program identifies "IMPACT MALES".
Elite alpaca genetics is measured by the extreme super fineness covered from the top of his bonnet to the tips of his toes, displaying incredibly bright lustre, finely crimped charachter in pencil staples bundling evenly across the whole bodyThe secret of breeding Champions, is to choose a proven herdsire. Proven by his progeny, and their consistancy of all the attributes that we are breeding to acheive, and ultimately to produce the fibre to please the manufacturer.
We are dedicated in our breeding program, that we can largely attribute Stefano's valuable genetics.
Some of his attribbutes he has passed on to his progeny are
* Uniformity and increased staple length.
* This has been an important breeding criteria.
* Soundness if body and conformtion and balance
* Fineness of trhe blacnket extending to all extremetries.
* Uniformary across the whole body
* lack of Medulation low 30% over 30 micron
* High lustre
* Staple length
* Volumne or density
* high frequency of crimp which will always display high curvature.
* Coverage- increased coverage from the bonnet to the tip of their toes.
Stefano's contribution to the Australian Alpaca Industry is rivalled by few stud males ever in Australia.
Monday, December 8, 2008
As you can see there is plenty of room in the crate for the alpacas, they quite enjoy the trip. You can also see they are not stressed at all. all care is taken in the loading process. We do not start the land transport to the airport until, we know for sure when the plane is due to arrive, and then we allow enough time to get to the airport, so that there is the least time spent in the crates. All staff are excellent, and all care, and attention is given
Once the crate is loaded, the crate is lowered very slowly down so that the top deck can be loaded, which takes only a few minutes as you can see, and then the crate is slowly raised, the crate is on rollers and then is manouvered ever so carefully along rollers into the position on a little train then taken to the plane, and on a scissor lift is loaded onto the plane.
All safe measures are taken into account, and safety for alpacas and people working with them is always planned to precision.
Our freight forwarder, also assists in checking the crate, and he is very efficient. The we place side boundaries up so that the alpacas will just jump into the crate, and remove avenues for escape.
KAsarni, is a lady..perfect in every way. She has superb crimp structure, heavy tight stapled all over, and extremely fine, sired by Olympic Dream son of Stefano, full accoyo multi award winner himself, Olympic Dream, is polishing off the perfection she displays. She will be at Alpacalandgoed in Belgium
Snow drifter is off to Belgium. A magnificant Stud Male, great consistant lines. Australian Alpaca Industry, has strict rulings on th males that are used for services. Before they can be used, they must oass a strict criteria, which is the Male Certification. It is to make sure no stud male has any genetic faults that can be inherited to the next generation. Some of the things that they checked for are similar to the Bas Screening. Tail, must ber straight not bent; laxating patellas, none at all, Eyes clear, and no problems to be seen inside them, straight legs, muzzle, no wry face, to mention a few. Here our vet Dr Tim Henderson, is checking against a sheet, that gives him the angles of the legs, so he is holding this sheet up, to confirm his legs are straight. Snow Drifter passed with flying colours. Now he is on the next leg of his journey, he has 6 months residency in New Zealand, and should fly out approx june 09.
Austar is on his way now to Belgium, he has to stay for 6 months in NZ, first, and then approx June 2009 He will fly out to Luxenbourg.AUstar has a beautiful lustrous Black fleece, and will be at Alpacalandgoed, for any enquiries
Sunday, December 7, 2008
He has been putting spectaculat fleeces onthe ground.
The fleece tester last night who is the man that buys the ultra fine bale, said that the consistancy of our fleeces, and stats, would place us one of the top ultra fine /super fine studs in Australia, this guy tests most of the fleeces in Australia.
He especially liked this fleece, (I love her ), as he said when you have a SD 3.2, you know that the whole fleece is consistant in micron, but not only that, it is all over, and she then has the ability to pass this on. Most of our SD are in the 3's some in early 4's. He said most studs are not getting under 4 in the SD. She has outstanding fleece. She still is maturing, and she is spectacular, she is devoping nicely, the dam's offspring have all grown out well.
Aailyah also hs the most gentle, beautiful, sweetest personality.
She has just flown to NZ for her second leg of the Journey, where she will stay for 6 months for residency. Then she is due in Belgium in June 09
One of my favourite alpacas, Snow Drifter, he is so gorgeous, and his fleece is an excellent example of the ultrafine fleeces we are producing at our farm. Cristiano, a peruvian import is producing super long fleeces, extremely dense, and super lustrous, snow white. His Histogram
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Sired by Vallon De Oro'
Comf Fact 99.9
Spin Fineness 16.8
Date Tested 27/11/08
Dam Mariah Hill Seduction This boy has it all.
see how his fleece cleanly openes up, crimp right to the front of his chest,.down his legs and under belly. This is the type of offspring you want to breed. His dam's micron is very fine, as she has produced two males previously, she is due April 09. Seduction is a gorgeous white female, who is just so easy to handle.
One of our favoiurite Peruvian girls that was originally been exported, Avonlea, had a female called Fantazia, Avonlea now is 16years+, and so although pregnant, we are lucky to have a female that we have not sold, to keep this fantastic line going. Avonlea has always produced stunning fleeces, and so when Fantazia was born, we knew our chances of getting another female from Avonlea was slim, so we made sure that Fantazia was not sold. Fantazia produced this gorgeous female last Monday morning, Fantasia. Her ears looks as though she is the flying nun, but they will firm up, in a couple of days, and so will her frontt legs, she is not 24 hours old at this stage. Elyse goes for a walk, and also spots one of our favourite alpaca at the moment, "Illustrious", Seductions male cria, who is destine to be a future herdsire at Mariah Hill. Anyone who has visited our farm, knows Seduction, she has beautiful soft handling very fine fleece. Elyse has just come bak from a gruelling trip from South Australia, and so she feels back at home with the alpacas, and checking out the babies.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Georgeous boys, Incan Pride and Tarz. They were cute as they explored their new home.
A visitor at the lady's property, had two little boys and within moments the alpacas and the two boys really hit it off.
Watch as the communication happens between the boys and the alapca.
First of all, the boys started walking behind the alpacas, and of course the fast walk, started to be a small run, then the two boys were distracted, and just started running in sircles, and next thing you know the alpacas started to run after the boys as if to play.
Here you can see the interaction going, and as his father was trying to take a photo, of the oldr boy with Incan Mist, the little boy told Incan mist to smail, dad's trying to take a photo so you had been ter smile.
Monday, December 1, 2008
They both have producesd Supreme Champions, and manyBlue (first) rivvon progeny, and progeny groups. We then did purchase another male, Jolimont Patche', (also Full Accoy0), who has really bulked up our offspring, and also a great frame male.this selection of males has contrivuted to the beautiful soft handling, Ultra and Super Fine fleeces.Our Next generation is Jolimont Vallon De oro', wow, he just finishes them off really well. Where do we go now, we can go back to Stefano, and re stamp those fantastic genetics.
He has also produced many stud males, one we retained, Olympic Dream, and look what he is doing.
What has been our secret to success, a fantastic genetic base, coming from the Accoyo and Allianza herds in Peru
Sometimes, Alpacas like other species will have a bent or a hook at the end of the tail. Sometimes even a knob at the end of the tail.
The bend might not be visible to the eye, and sometimes hard to feel it properly, but when a vet does a vet check or especially male certification, he will not pass the alpaca because of the bend, hook or knob at the end of the tail.
With improved breeding practices, these faults are being bred out, but sometimes especially at shows, you will see people very upset, when they have taken their beautiful alpaca to a show, and discover through the stewards that their alpaca has a tail problem. Some people cnnot understand the seriousness of a tail problem, i think this article from the CLAA, explains it perfectly.
UNDERSTANDING BREED STANDARDS
This article is one of a series aimed at providing information regarding breed standards and the importance of screening alpacas for congenital disqualifiers prior to registration. Firstly – what does congenital mean. Congenital refers to a trait that an animal is born with (existing at the
time of birth). The CLAA rules of registration require that congenital defects be evaluated at birth and alpaca and llamas exhibiting one or more of the listed congenital disqualifiers be denied registration. It is important to remember at this point however, that some observed defects are not necessarily genetically programmed and may have resulted from problems encountered during foetal development in utero (e.g. flexural limb deformity). Also, those defects that are genetically programmed in the foetus may not have originated from “heritable” defects. Heritable defects are genetically programmed in that animal and can be passed on from the affected animal – they may or may not however, have been inherited from sire and dam.
There are two options for the origin of a genetic defects occurring in a newborn:
1) a point mutation in that animal but not pre-existing in the parents and
2) a genetic defect carried by one or both parents and transmitted to the offspring.
The subject of this article is crooked tails. It is the first article in an ongoing series
on how to recognise congenital disqualifiers. What to look for and why.
The tail vertebra belongs to the spinal column and the spine is part of the
skeleton. Therefore deformities of the tail vertebrae are part of skeletal defects.
They can be various in shape and depend on the defect in the genotype (whether
the cause of a mutation or caused by hereditary factors). The tail may be missing,
maybe too short, may have one or more bends (kinks) in different variations or
hooks and crooks. Sometimes there are too many or too few vertebrae.
When the deformity is limited to the tail then it generally has no influence on the
alpaca’s or llama’s life. However, when that animal is bred the “small defect” can
become much more serious for the offspring. Not only in tails but also other part
of the spinal column. In an Australian study nine alpaca offspring aged from 12
– 18 months were radiographed. They were all conceived on the one farm to the
same sire that had a visibly abnormal tail. Over the course of one year 30 of his
offspring were born. Thirteen had normal tails, five had abnormally short tails and
12 had abnormally deviated tails. Importantly these twelve showed five different
types of vertebral malformation – one a potentially life threatening dorsal subluxation. In 12 of
these cria (11 abnormal tails, one normal tail) six also had shorter than normal ears. One was also diagnosed with an ectopic ureter. Six of the cria went on to have cria of their own and produced 4 cria with short tails, three of which also had short ears. Although this is admittedly a small study inheritance of vertebral malformations has been confirmed for many other species and, for some species as well, congenital tail defects have also been linked to defects in organ systems. This link between deformities in organ systems and crooked tails in parents and relatives of both parents has been proven in dogs, cats, pigs and mice. Congenital Disqualifiers
Part I -
“there may be a correlation between malformations of the tail and other vertebra, and whilst a malformed tail may be no more than unattractive, malformation of cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral vertebra (as observed in the offspring of the sire of the study) may cause functional, hysical and neurological deficits” The Australian authors conclude their study by saying “we consider that there may be a correlation between malformations of the tail and other vertebra, and whilst a malformed tail may be no more than unattractive, malformation of cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral vertebra (as observed in the offspring of the sire of the study) may cause functional, physical and neurological deficits”. In short, based on available evidence from other species and limited evidence from alpaca studies congenital permanent deviations of the tail is more than a cosmetic issue. It is likely a heritable condition that can cause deformities in the higher vertebrae which may be life threatening or at the very least cause functional problems. This is particularly important in breeding females who need to maintain conformation and back strength through multiple pregnancies. Simply, a slight little hook in a tail you may see in a new born cria today may translate into a larger more serious vertebral malformation if that animal is allowed to enter the breeding population. This is why alpacas and llamas that show tail deviations from birth are prohibited from being registered.
So, how do you identify crooked tails?
Take the tail in hand (gently) and feel it all the way down to the tip. Ordinarily the tail will be straight – in a crooked tail you will feel the kink or curve or hook or crook (it could be slight or it could be quite pronounced) anywhere from the base to the tip. Although Murray Fowler in “Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids” states that “it is important to understand that a crooked tail has as much chance of being acquired through an injury as it does through
heredity” if the examination is done very early in a cria’s life the chance of a deviation being the result of trauma or accident is slight. The only way to make a more accurate diagnosis however is x-ray. The x-ray can identify break lines that have healed, it can also show extra or malformed vertebra that would indicate a disqualifying congenital defect. As a general rule,
but not a hard and fast one, that may give some relief when waiting to book an x-ray – if the tail can be manually straightened by slight (and that’s worth emphasising) pressure the deviation was probably caused by trauma.