Thursday, May 13, 2010


Victoria is the last female due with a cria on our farm this year.

Victoria has had 3 cria already. The first one we do not own, she was born before we purchased Victoria. That one is Contessa. She is a fading fawn color. Shelby is Victoria’s second cria. She was the first female born on our farm. Shelby now is at Elite Alpacas. Then last year, Victoria had a boy, Cavalier. He is also a fawn.

I’m sort of glad Victoria is the last one to talk about, because I can’t talk about her color genes without going into: dilution gene. I tried very hard to find an expert article on this, because I know I can’t adequately explain it. And to be honest, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the “experts” way of saying “if my 2 color theory doesn’t work out, then it’s a dilution gene.” Sort of like an excuse for any situation that doesn’t fit their model. For example, if you breed two black animals together, you should get black (bb x bb = bb every time). Except, there are times two black animals create a fawn (or another color). The experts say this is due to a dilution gene. If an animal has 1 dilution gene, it does nothing. But if you have 2 dilution genes, it will lighten the animal’s color. They call these animals “stealth black” meaning while they appear to be another color, they are really black. When bred to a black, who does not pass on a dilution gene, you will get a black cria (it would take 2 dilution genes, one from each parent, to lighten the color).

The first time we thought about Victoria having a dilution gene is when we read that maroons (Victoria is a reddish brown, often called maroon) are really diluted blacks. I have since read that other experts do not believe this to be true (and all they would have to do is show one time that was not the case to prove it’s not always true). But, in Victoria’s case, I do think she is diluted black (I have no idea if they all are).

As proof of this, her sire (father) is black. She had to have gotten a black gene from him. Her mother is a white, but she has produced black offspring, so her mother’s secondary color is black. Victoria’s parents would be: bb x Wb = bW, bb, bW, bb so Victoria should have been white or black. She is a maroon brown. Now if both parents have a dilution gene, and together they lightened her up just a bit, that would explain her color. She’s a lightened black.

I mentioned before about two blacks producing a fawn, so why isn’t Victoria fawn? Well, what I’ve read says that the degree of the dilution has to do with how it works in the individual alpaca. Sometimes the dilution is only a shade lighter, sometimes it lightens all the way down to white, or anywhere in between.

If you look in Victoria’s family tree, you can find other times dilution genes are at work. I do think this is more then just an “excuse” explanation. But I admit, at first I was pretty skeptical of this whole idea.

For Victoria, this mean she is really a black, but because she is lightened, she has 2 dilution gene. Her color graphed would be “bb” but each time she will pass on a diluted black. This dilution gene will only affect the color of the cria if the sire also passes on a dilution gene. Shelby’s father is a fawn with a black secondary color, so this would be Fb x bb = Fb, Fb, bb, bb = either fawn (Fb) or black (bb). Shelby is brown just like her mother, so her sire had to have passed on a dilution gene too. If he did not pass on a dilution gene, if he just passed on black, she would have been black. We don’t know if Cavalier is diluted. He is fawn, and his father is fawn, so he likely got a fawn color gene from his father. Cavalier’s secondary color would be black, from his mother. This means if Cavalier is bred to a black female, they should produce black (unless they both have a dilution gene and pass it on). Cavalier *could* be diluted to fawn, but there is no way to tell that for sure (if he had a lot of cria on the ground, we might be able to, but right now there is no way to know).

Victoria is now bred to Tucker. Tucker is a tuxedo light silver grey. Tuxedo grey breeds differently than modern, at least many experts believe they does. For Tuxedo grey, their color combination is usually grey and black (Gb).

Victoria (bb) x Tucker (Gb) = bG, bb, gG, bb

So, we should get a grey (bG) or black (bb) out of this breeding (50% chance of either one). I believe the grey would also mean a tuxedo grey. Except, of course, if Tucker has a dilution gene, in which case a lighter color could result. That could mean a brown, or a rose grey.

Recently I read that animals from Peru are more likely to have a dilution gene. This fits with the fact that Peru bred for light animals (white mostly). Even if they had no idea about the dilution gene, they would breed the light animals, including diluted ones, more and more to keep getting the lighter diluted colors. But, the interesting thing about this, is that Victoria is 100% Chilean. Makes one wonder.

For Victoria’s cria, we have decided to name them after cars. We have a Shelby mustang, and The Cavalier (for our stud-ly but pretty boy). There are tons of names ideas for this family tree theme.

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