Tuesday, May 13, 2008

white alpaca boys

I've been asked by several people if it's "good" that we had a white boy. Well, that's difficult to answer.

To start, while we didn't intend to have so many white alpacas, we knew when we bought Sancha that she was bred to Avatar and that there was a high chance the cria would be white. I believe it's a 58% chance of a white cria when 2 whites are bred to each other. We felt it was higher given the fact both parents have had several white offspring. There is a 50/50 chance of male vs female. Having a white boy was not a surprise (though I had predicted a white girl, it was a 50/50 guess). We all had predicted the cria would be white.

White alpacas do have benefits. White fiber is really nice to have. I can make a lot of different things with white/offwhite yarn. And white is the easiest to dye if I so choose. The disadvantage of white is that it's the most competitive. Back in Peru they focused on improving the white fiber because that is what the English textiles wanted. The whites tend to have more crimp and shine and luster etc. What this means is that a decent white might not ever get any awards because there are really great whites. Whereas a decent black alpaca, where there has been less focus on imroving that fiber, has a good chance of getting a few awards.

What this means for Lightening? If he's great, he could show really well and be a Stud someday. His sire (father) is a white male and made it to stud status. In fact, he's a $5,000 bred. But if Lightening is good, but average, he likely will not show well which means less likely he'd make it to stud. Then he'll end up like Snowstorm, a gelded male. For that matter Snowstorm did show and did win some awards. He just wasn't quite good enough for a farm to want him as a sire. We love him as a gelded male :) but we hope that isn't the fate of Lightening.

As for male vs female, it's hard to say what is better. The benefit of females is that unless there is something seriously wrong with them, they are of value because of breding. Even an average female can be "bred up" to a better quality male to make a great cria. The industry does not "bred up" males though. Since you can purchase stud service, it makes the most sense to buy the best girl you can afford, then purchase stud service to an even better male. If Lightening is a "bred up" quality of male, he'll have a good career as a stud. A really good stud can make money through stud service alone. There is also potential to sell "half interest" in the male (two farms then would "own" him and his service). Additionally, the highest dollar amount purchase in the alpaca industry have been of males. If males are good, they can be worth more than a female.

Lightening is the first cria on our farm so I'm not one to judge how good or great he is. I think he's awesome, but I'm biased and I have nothing to compare him too. Only time will tell. From what we do see, we think his face will be quite wooly. It also looks like he has good coverage of fiber on his legs (which is of concern because his sister does not have good leg coverage, on a male that could end his stud potential, on a female, we will just make sure to breed her to males who have full coverage).

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