Friday, December 28, 2007

Peru, Chili and Bolivia

Alpacas come from Peru, Chili and Bolivia. From what I've read it appears the first alpacas to come to the US were from Chili as Peru did not export them until later (early 1990's). When Peru started exporting them, they touted them as the best of the alpacas. It is true that Peru focused on breeding for the best fiber they could, but only in white, which is what was desired by the English textiles. The white fiber class is the most competitive because there is a long history of breeding for excellent fiber in that color.

Alpacas from Chili are more likely to be of color. Natural colors have become popular in the yarn/craft industry. Natural brown and grey have been popular for some time, now natural silver is the big color.

Few alpacas have come from Bolivia, but some are reported to be from Bolivia.

Of note there is no current importing of any alpacas. I believe in 1998 the US border was closed to any more imports. From what I've read this was done by the alpaca industry to help the US alpaca farmer, with no imports everyone will have to buy from US alpaca farmers.

Some farms choose to focus on the genetics from one particular county. We have decided not to do that. Our thought is that for one, the borders in that part of the world (Peru, Chili, Bolivia) and not structured. Alpacas were able to go from one country to another, it's impossible to know exactly which country they came from. I've read that importing from Chili was easier than from Peru so people would take an alpaca from Peru to Chili then export it. In addition, I do not know that having "Accoyo Peruvian" in the alpaca is noteworthy. While Accoyo is a very good farm in Peru, after being exported it would be very difficult to prove it definately came from that farm (alpacas were held in detentions when they arrived at the US, it was a long journey from there to here, unless you went to Accoyo farm and saw the alpaca there it would be difficult to know for sure it was there). And even if it did, it would be impossible to prove if it had the great genetics from the farm or was a mediocere one on that farm. We have based out decisions of purchase on the animal and how the relatives of that animal has places in shows in the US rather than focusing strictly on country of origin.

I found this quote from a judge which I think sums up our thoughts (Alpaca Judge Maggie Krieger ( ):
“Further centuries of careful genetic engineering, using the colour palate of the Chileans and Bolivians and the quality of the white Peruvians, I believe, will provide the ultimate in high quality coloured alpacas. …… Let us not write off one brand over the other, forsaking the incredible potential we have been lucky enough to be blessed with and privileged enough to own.”

Like Ken and Linda from South Haven Alpacas, we have decided to include all backgrounds, but when breeding to take into consideration what would make the alpaca better. For example, Victoria has very dense, soft fleece, but does not have the best crimp (it has gotten better as she has aged). When breeding her, we will look for a male with really good crimp. Kateri is a smaller alpaca so when breeding we want to make sure the male is on the bigger side. We are looking at the animal and what genetics it brings with it that should create an even better alpaca, rather than looking at the country of origin. I have heard that Chilean alpacas have density and softness, Peruvian have crimp, so combining them gives the best of both worlds.

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