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Proposed Huacaya & Suri Breed Standards

Breed Standard Preamble

In 2015 the AOA Strategic Plan was presented to the AOA membership. It had been created through membership participation in surveys and from input gathered from the Strategic Planning Retreat. One of the strategies prioritized by the AOA membership was the creation of breed standards for huacaya and suri alpacas.

In 2006, the Suri Network developed and formally adopted its first Suri Breed Standard, and in 2015 undertook the challenge of updating that standard. The Suri Network team consisted of Gail Campbell DVM, Randy Coleman, Cheryl Gehly, Karl Heinrich, Linda Kondris, Tim Sheets, and Amanda VandenBosch. In this effort, the Suri Network provided both the Suri Network and AOA memberships an online opportunity to review and provide their comments and suggestions on the draft of the updated standard. After that input was received and incorporated, the Suri Network membership voted to accept the final draft of the revised Suri Standard in the fall of 2016.

Your AOA Board of Directors does not feel it is in the best interests of our industry to have 2 separate suri breed standards, and asked permission to use the Suri Network’s Breed Standard for the AOA Suri Breed Standard. Because the Suri Breed Standard is the property of the Suri Network, it is not AOA’s purview to change it. However, the AOA Board would like to ask you if there is anything in the Suri Network Suri Breed Standard that would prevent you from voting for its acceptance as the AOA Suri Breed Standard.

Impressed with the Suri Standard and its format, the AOA Board approached the authors of The Art and Science of Alpaca Judging, some of whom helped author the revision of the Suri Standard to create a similarly formatted Huacaya Standard. This team consisted of Jude Anderson, Cheryl Gehly, Mike Safley, and Amanda VandenBosch, and they have created the first draft of the Huacaya Breed Standard for the AOA membership to review and comment.

The staff of AOA has created this webpage—www.alpacainfo.com/breed-standard—which holds both standards and provides links to allow our members to comment. AOA will pass comments to the authors of each standard. After this process is complete, the AOA membership will have the opportunity to vote to adopt both breed standards.

For many of our members, this may be the first time that you have seen a livestock breed standard. On the website, we have provided several internet links to other breed standards so that our members can see how different standards can be between livestock species in terms of depth, detail, and organization.

The AOA Board is very excited to help our industry advance in this manner and feels that having alpaca breed standards will be important for our members, as well as those considering joining our industry. We recognize that standards are fluid documents that will require periodic revision. We look forward to receiving your feedback and the opportunity to present a final Huacaya Breed Standard and the Suri Breed Standard to you for your vote.

Please download or read through the breed standards and then provide your comments.

A forum has been created and will be open February 28 – March 20 for feedback and discussion. The Breed Standard will be brought before the membership for vote in the 2017 Election.

You must register on the site and login to take part in the discussion.

Feedback and Discussion Forum for the Huacaya & Suri Breed Standards

Download the Breed Standard Preamble (pdf)

Download the Huacaya Breed Standard (draft) (pdf)

Download the Suri Breed Standard (pdf)

Huacaya Breed Standard (draft)

The ideal huacaya alpaca is the epitome of true alpaca type with a perfect head, outstanding conformation, and a fine, dense, uniform, bright fleece. As alpacas approach the ideal state, they express more positive fleece characteristics than less improved types. The huacaya fleece exhibits highly aligned staples of fine fleece with little guard hair. The concept of the ideal alpaca is not a static model. It is the process of the pursuit of excellence that will fuel genetic improvement for decades. Highly heritable traits are selected for genotypic gain in the individual offspring’s expression of positive breed characteristics, which exist along a continuum.

Note: The included characteristics all relate to the form and function of the breed and are not prioritized in any specific order. The standard* is a livestock guideline for breeding selection dedicated to correctness and longevity, which is inclusive of both commercial and cottage fleece production attributes.

 

Ideal Traits

Acceptable But Less Desirable Traits

Unacceptable/
Undesirable Traits

A. Conformation

1. Phenotype

Elegant profile showing balanced proportions of neck, body and legs with a true to type head, level topline and strong substance of bone fit for efficient function.

Often phenotypically true to type, yet express subtle differences in frame and overall appearance.

Lacks overall balance, proportion and substance of bone.

2. Balance and Topline

Proper proportions demonstrated in a squared-off appearance of one-third legs, one-third body, one-third neck and head. Length is the same as height, with a level topline from withers to the hip, rounding at the croup.

Slightly off in balance with the squared profile being elongated in any direction.

Obvious lack of balance and proportion and/or topline deviated in a humpback or swayback condition.

3. Head

Dense top knot over a strong, wedge-shaped muzzle. Ears erect, spear-shaped and of appropriate length. Eyes clear and bright, free from congenital anomalies. Nasal passages symmetrical. Incisors meet the forward edge of the upper dental pad and the mandible and maxilla are vertically aligned.

Wedge shaped muzzle and head shape but lacking well defined fiber coverage. May exhibit slight deviations in jaw alignment. Incisors may extend beyond or slightly behind the forward edge of the upper dental pad. Mandible is slightly wider than maxilla.

Topknot often fluffy and open over a long muzzle. Ears out of proportion with the head, banana-shaped or fused. Jaw alignment incorrect with lower teeth extending well beyond or behind the upper dental pad. Asymmetry of nasal passages and crooked tooth alignment.

4. Movement and Tracking

Movement demonstrates a fluid gait and balanced stride, with both toes pointed forward and tracking evenly in a straight line on upright pasterns.

Deviations exist in foot placement and leg angulation when viewed from both the front and the side indicating improper joint structure. Gait not smooth.

Extreme deviations in angulation of the shoulder or hocks or collapsed pasterns. Resultant movements are short, choppy, winging out, toeing in or rope walking.

5. Front Legs

Show excellent substance of bone, with correct angulation when viewed from the front and side with toes pointed forward, also demonstrating adequate chest width.

May be slightly fine boned, have a moderate deviation in angulation from either front or side view, leg rotated slightly in or out as evidenced in foot position.

Very light boned, front or side view deviation in angulation is extreme, position of feet very close or too far apart, extreme outward or inward leg rotation.

6. Hind Legs

Hindquarters are broad, with strong, well-muscled thighs. Legs show excellent substance of bone with correct angulation of the hock joint when viewed from the side and rear.

May be slightly fine boned or narrow in hindquarters. Hock angulation may be slightly deviated when viewed from the rear (cow hocked) or the side (sickle hocked).

Hindquarters are light boned and very narrow. Hocks touch during standing and movement. Extreme deviation appears from the side when the hock joint is either extremely angled (sickle-hocked) or too straight (post legged).

7. Body Capacity

Shows breadth and depth of body, chest and abdomen. Excellent size for age with broad, well-sprung ribs.

May demonstrate a slightly smaller frame for age or be slower to develop.

Very narrow through the chest and lacks spring of rib, resulting in a flat, slab-sided look. Small in overall size and stature for age.

8. Tail

Tail set centers off the rounded croup and is palpated just off the pelvis as a natural extension of the spine. Tail is straight and easy to flex with a length sufficient to cover the genitalia.

Tail set may be slightly high and length may be less than ideal.

Tail set high on the croup, kinked or bent and unable to be straightened, too short to cover genitalia.

9. Genitalia

External genitalia are anatomically correct in size, shape and position. Four teats are uniformly positioned. Males have two evenly sized, firm testicles that are descended into the scrotal sacs.

Four teats exist in close proximity to each other. Small vulva opening. Testicles small, but descended into scrotal sac.

Vulva that is too small, incorrectly positioned or angled, closed at birth requiring surgical intervention. Males with only one testicle, very small testicles, or very soft testicles. Other than four teats.

B. Fleece

1. Phenotype

Clearly demonstrates the ultimate function of being a fiber producing species, forming well defined staples of fine, dense, uniform, bright fleece.

Exhibits good character of average density and organization throughout.

Exhibits little evidence of staple organization and density resulting in a very open, lofty appearance.

2. Fineness

Low micron fibers relative to age are expressed across the blanket of the alpaca and extend to the extremities, making fleece ideal for processing into garments which may be worn next to the skin. The rate of change in micron over time is minimal.

Higher micron fibers relative to age exist and vary in their expression within the staple and across the blanket.

Coarse, high micron fibers exhibited throughout the blanket and produced at a young age and throughout the lifetime of the alpaca. These high micron fibers are not able to be processed for high end garments worn next to the skin.

3. Uniformity of Micron

This most valued trait for processing is evident within organized staples and across the blanket of the alpaca. Little difference can be seen between the size of primary and secondary follicle fibers.

Variation in the size of primary and secondary follicle fibers is distinctive and easily recognized.

Extreme micron variation exists within the staple and throughout the entire fleece.

4. Handle

Extremely soft, well-nourished feel throughout the fleece that also exhibits a high degree of uniformity of micron.

Less smooth and soft, the fleece will demonstrate some variation in micron.

The fleece is not soft, but rather harsh and dry, and has excessive variation and/or high micron fibers throughout.

5. Character

Highly defined and aligned crimp with individual staples that are often comprised of smaller, tightly organized groups of micro-staples that are evident throughout the entire fleece. The staple groups exhibit firmness and solidity.

Good crimp definition with some degree of amplitude, but staple groups are less organized and firm.

Very open, unorganized fibers characterized by volume rather than firmness, lacking crimp definition, alignment and clear staple formation.

6. Density

Fleece exhibits highly aligned fine fibers growing in tightly packed staple groups, demonstrating firmness and solidity throughout.

Fleece is comprised of staple groups that are less solid and firm, more open, demonstrating less highly aligned fibers.

Fleece is open, lacks clear staple definition, and exhibits loft rather than firmness.

7. Brightness

The fleece demonstrates extreme brightness throughout, similar to high-gloss suri fiber.

Average levels of brightness are present throughout the fleece expressed as a warm glow or sheen.

Poor level of brightness evident. While some shine may be evident in extremely broad coarse fibers, the overall fleece is very dull, flat and chalky.

8. Color Uniformity

The fleece is solid colored and void of any variant colored fibers, thus making it well suited for commercial processing.

Some color variation present, especially in fawn and grey color groups that make it better suited for cottage processing.

Variant color exists throughout an otherwise solid colored fleece. Cottage processing required.

C. Maternal Traits

1. General

Dam exhibits longevity in her ability to produce healthy offspring throughout an extended lifetime.

Dam has difficulty in achieving pregnancy, has delayed milk production, or remains open for an extended time after delivery.

Dam is repeatedly unable to deliver full term cria, is unable to achieve pregnancy, or is unable to produce milk.

2. Birthing Ease

Female possesses the appropriate pelvic conformation and has the ability to give birth with ease and without assistance.

Occasional minor dystocia requiring minimal assistance without damage to the dam or cria.

Repeated major veterinary intervention.

3. Mothering Skill and Maintenance Efficiency

Dam bonds well with her cria, and has the udder capacity to consistently produce quantities of good quality milk in order to rear and wean a healthy cria, while maintaining her own health.

Female does not bond with cria and needs human intervention to develop bond. Dam produces minimal milk and cria is slow growing or needs supplementation.

Dam rejects cria, offspring development indicates failure to thrive and requires medical intervention and supplementation.

4. Fertility

Healthy, well grown female achieves pregnancy with a minimum of breedings.

Female requires multiple breedings, or suffers early embryonic loss.

Female requires hormonal intervention regularly to achieve or maintain pregnancy.

D. Temperament

1. General

Alpacas demonstrate a calm, docile nature as a herd species. Expression of dominance is expected as they form herd groups, but overt aggression is not acceptable.

Female is overly protective of her cria and asserts dominance in the form of spitting and kicking when approached. An alpaca that is overly interactive with humans.

An alpaca that aggressively challenges and attacks humans.

2. Breeding Vigor

Males have good libido and breed females with high impregnation success on minimal matings.

Male that is timid and reluctant to breed.

Male with low sperm viability that requires multiple matings to achieve pregnancy.

Male or female lacks interest in breeding.

3. Handling

Alpacas should be easy to handle and train.

An alpaca that is more difficult to handle, resists restraint, or consistently spits, kicks or runs away.

An alpaca that is dangerous to handle, and aggressively challenges and attacks humans.

*Model and content structure reprinted with permission from The Suri Breed Standard, copyright 2016 The Suri Network.

References:

The Suri Breed Standard, The Suri Network, 2005, revised 2016.

The Art and Science of Alpaca Judging, AOBA, (2011).

Show System Handbook, AOA, (2016).

The Alpaca Emphasis Guide, AOBA, (2007).

© 2017 Alpaca Owners Association, Inc.