Ian, This is an excellent proposal, addressing the need to minimize the importance (in the US) of show results and getting to the root of the important issue - fiber production. Here are two thoughts that occurred to me in reading your proposal: 1. Consider having an access fee for those searching the database. This could be done through a one-time annual fee, such as with ARI, or with a fee per search. The former would be much easier to manage and control. Resulting fees would help pay for DB maintenance and website updating. 2. I would give very careful consideration to the concept of "independent" as used in your proposal. While I have no definitive information to confirm this, I've heard rumors of the US importers being very loose with the screening process for alpacas exiting South America. The reason is obvious; their ultimate objective is to have a maximum number of quarantined animals pass screening. There have been stories of one screener disqualifying an animal, which then gets "approved" by another screener. Whether true or not, my point is this: collection of fiber samples, conformation examination, weighing of fleeces and the consequent transfer of resulting data should, without question, be beyond challenge. Compromise of any process or data would minimize the value of the entire process. How one maintains the objectivity of this data in the face of its potential value to owners of listed alpacas remains to be discussed. Perhaps a task force or committee should be considered to help you with this, Ian. I look forward to seeing the new handbook! Regards, Ted Chepolis | Pine Lake Alpacas ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ian Watt" <alpacaconsult@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: <alpaca_fibre@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 6:03 PM Subject: [alpaca_fibre] Sire Reference Program > I am delighted to announce that I have found a laboratory to undertake > the follicle and density counts for alpacas both here and in Australia. > I have also secured a website to be called alpacasiresUSA.com which > will be the home of the new sire listing I wrote to you all about > several months ago. > I have extended the original concept to now include some phenotype > features that may help disclose the underlying genotype of sires of the > future. I am awaiting a response from Elizabeth Paul and will, in all > probability, include details of gum, toenail, point and eyelid colour > in the sire disclosure list. I would be very interested if anyone has > any comments about this aspect of the project. > I am pasting the new program guidelines into this email for you to > peruse and consider. If you have any comments, I would greatly > appreciate you airing them on this site so we can all share the > thoughts. > Incidentally, another 20 odd breeders have joined the list as they > attended a workshop in California several weeks ago. New workshops are > planned for Maine, Colorado and Virginia later this year. > And the International Alpaca Handbook is finally off the presses and at > the bindery awaiting binding!! > Cheers, > Ian Watt > > ALPACA SIRE REFERENCE PROGRAM > > Preamble > Selection of sires is possibly the single most important breeding > decision any owner makes in striving for excellence in their alpaca > business. > The impact of a sire across a herd is more significant than any other > single breeding decision. > The American alpaca industry uses more sires across its national herd > than is probably necessary. Supporters of a wide gene pool for the > industry would dispute this, but, from a production perspective, it is > hard to argue an alternative point of view. > The lack of a breed standard (for the industry) allows the broadest > possible interpretation on what comprises an acceptable conformation. A > show standard goes beyond what is, or could reasonably be expected of, > an animal primarily devoted to fibre production ie the show standard > aims at a much higher level of conformation correctness than is usually > reflected in a fibre production breeding emphasis. > Breeders who aim for fibre excellence in their alpacas often lack the > tools with which to make informed and productive genetic selections. > Too often males are offered for service that have little or no > supportive objective data that provide objectively obtained information > for the female owner and breeder. This information may not be important > to many breeders (at the moment) but will become increasingly important > as the rate of genetic improvement becomes harder and harder to > achieve. This is reflected most dramatically when the phenotype > differences between animals being considered for joining are not > immediately or apparently obvious. > Breeders seeking superior fibre characteristics and production will be > looking for more than show results and perceived quality than is > currently the industry standard in the United States. > Breeders aiming to sit inside the top 20% or better of the national > herd (any national herd) will seek more and more objectively measured > information to aid their individual selection processes. > Professionally oriented breeders will adopt a much more challenging > approach to the selection of sires and this will also apply to the > introduction of new female genetics into the individual herd as well. > This program is designed to not only apply objective assessment data to > both male and female selection criteria but to also show a way for > progressive breeders to position themselves for the future in terms of > breeding and selling advanced fibre genetics. > The following criteria suggestions are aimed at sire selections but can > apply equally to female selection protocols as well. > This program is about placing fibre as a higher priority than > conformation by objective measurement and the underpinning of > conformation correctness through strict adherence to a standard. > > The Program > > Because the influence of any sire is far greater across the national > herd than any individual female, it is important that sires be > rigorously examined for possible genetic conformational weaknesses. It > is important that these traits be identified as health and welfare > issues rather than cosmetic or environmental differences or effects. > There is currently no industry conformation standard in place to > measure sires (or females for that matter) against, nor is there any > prospect of being one in the foreseeable future. > The use of objectively collected and measured fleece data is not widely > used in the promotion of sires. > It is doubtful whether many breeders physically examine sires unless > they see them at a show or live close by. Many breeders send females > for mating to sight unseen sires and presumably rely upon a show result > as a tick of conformational approval. This is not necessarily a sound > breeding practice. > > First requirement. > Each sire will be required to pass a physical conformational > examination as described on a pro-forma established for such a purpose. > This examination is identical to that adopted by the Australian Alpaca > Association (AAA) for registration of males as sires approved for > progeny registration into the International Alpaca Register, owned and > operated by the AAA. Under the AAA scheme, any male used to sire cria > able to be registered must pass this test before the sire is used to > get a female pregnant. > Each component of the standard must be passed for the male to be > considered satisfactory - there are no trade-offs, an animal must pass > every requirement. > There is no fleece component. > The examination must be done by a veterinarian so that potentrial > customers can be assured that the certification has been done by an > independent and qualified person. > Second requirement. > Each sire will be required to be fleece tested using the OFDA2000 > testing technology. A fleece sample from each mid-side will be required > and the average of the two tests used as the final figure. > The sample will be collected by an independent person, divided in half > with one sample forwarded by the sampler to the program coordinator and > the other half retained by the owner under seal. > The information required by the program will include micron, standard > deviation, coefficient of variation, comfort factor, staple length, > colour and average fibre profile. > > > > > > Third requirement. > The fleece will be weighed at shearing by an independent person who > will record total fleece weight and saddle. The male will be required > to be shorn from the ears down the neck, the body and legs down to the > knee, excluding the tail. > The weight will be recorded and affirmed by the owner. > The shorn fleece will be raised to a height of eighteen inches from a > table top and dropped. This will be done three times and the weight of > the fleece recorded. This procedure will remove a considerable part of > any dust in the fleece. > > > Fourth requirement. > Breeders of coloured alpacas are becoming increasingly aware of the > phenotype expression of the genetics underlying what they see in the > flesh. There is an increasing sophistication being exhibited by > coloured breeders especially since the publication of Elizabeth Paul's > "The Alpaca Colour Key". In order to meet this demand and to foster > itys growth, each male will have any identifying colour spots disclosed > as well as eye colour, eyelid colour, points colour, toenail colour and > gum colour. These potential genetic colour identifiers will be > important to discerning colour breeders of the future. > > > Additional option. > This option will allow owners of sires to have their sire tested for > primary:secondary follicle count as well as a density count. Owners > will be provided with a kit comprising all the materials and equipment > needed to undertake the test and a comprehensive set of instructions > which will allow a competent person to do the collection without the > need for a veterinarian. It is suggested however that the vet could do > the biopsy at the time of the physical examination. This is a one-off > procedure and is offered for those breeders who might want to identify > their top females within the herd. > > The information derived from the processing of the four requirements > will paint a composite picture of any sire using objectively collected > data. This data can then be used to make some initial assessments of > the sire, allow comparisons between sires and lets sires be assessed on > performance rather than subjective assessment reinforced by emotive > promotion. > The exercising of the additional option adds a far deeper dimension to > the selection process and strikes a very new line of breeder disclosure > to potential customers for sire services. This is very much leading > edge genetics. > > > Access to data > The data and documentation of each sire would then be collated and > processed into a website listing within a listing of "accredited sires" > (or some such identifier). This website would be managed and maintained > by Alpaca Consulting Services of Australia and would be open for public > access. > There would be a fee structure for animals entering the program and an > annual fee to cover the testing, collating and data processing of the > annual shearing results. > Once entered into the site, the animal will remain until, either it > dies, the owner decides to withdraw or no new data has been collected > for two seasons. > There will be a photograph of the sire on the site. > There will be no mention of show results. > There will be an option to link any particular sire to the owners > website or email address. > There will be no service fee or other advertising on the site. > > Benefits > The industry-wide benefit is access to sires demonstrating objectively > measured fleece and conformation information collected by an > independent person. This feature alone will place these sires at the > forefront of breeders minds as the collection, testing and distribution > of the information is not managed by the owner of the sire - a truly > vested interest - but by someone with absolutely no interest in any > animal. > By making the data public both breeders and sire owners have a > benchmark against which they can measure any potential sire but also a > wider range of sires as this program allows any sire, or potential > sire, in. > Over time, the fleece history of the sire will become clear with those > sires not blowing out in any measurable traits becoming more recognized > and thus, potentially, more attractive as future herd sires. > Owners of listed sires will no doubt be recognized as leading edge > breeders as demonstrated through their strength of conviction in > submitting their animals to scrutiny over the internet. > Breeders looking for sires will, for the first time perhaps, have a > broader range of sires from which to select as small breeders unable or > unwilling to exhibit at shows will have a vehicle through which they > can market and promote their animals at minimal cost and at maximum > credibility. > Finally, the conformation examination by a veterinarian will, for the > first time, underpin an expanded guarantee of correctness of > conformation by a sire owner. > These are benefits that will not only enhance the reputation of the > animal but also the owner in an industry which will place more and more > emphasis on fleece production than is currently the case. > In essence, breeders offering sires entered into the program will be > attesting that their animals have met a documented conformation > standard, have undergone independently collected, tested and recorded > fleece measurements and, if selected, are prepared to disclose > secondary to primary follicle ratios to buyers of both animals and > service options. > > > > --- > List Name: Alpaca Fibre Production > ListAddress: alpaca_fibre@xxxxxxxxxxxxx > List Archives: //www.freelists.org/archives/alpaca_fibre/ > List Administrator: Ian Watt (alpacaconsult@xxxxxxxxxxxxx) > > How to Unsubscribe: send an email to alpaca_fibre-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx and put "unsubscribe" (without the quotes) in the Subject line of the email. > --- List Name: Alpaca Fibre Production ListAddress: alpaca_fibre@xxxxxxxxxxxxx List Archives: //www.freelists.org/archives/alpaca_fibre/ List Administrator: Ian Watt (alpacaconsult@xxxxxxxxxxxxx) How to Unsubscribe: send an email to alpaca_fibre-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx and put "unsubscribe" (without the quotes) in the Subject line of the email.