Expected Progeny Differences (EPD)
Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are calculated for ten traits—nine fleece traits plus birth weight. Fleece data is collected from standardized fiber analysis. Growth and maternal trait data is also collected for the EPD program for birth weight, weaning weight, and birthing ease.
EPDs provide an estimate of the average difference in an individual’s progeny performance as compared to the national herd OR as compared to another individual animal. EPDs cannot predict the outcome of a single breeding, but rather predict the progeny performance on average over a number of progeny. Utilization of EPDs for traits of interest in breeding plans which include selection for desired traits will, over time, move the herd’s performance in the desired direction.
EPDs are ONE tool in a breeder’s toolbox for making informed breeding decisions. Conformation is not yet addressed by the EPD program. Other traits such as maternal characteristics are also not yet addressed by the program. AOA will continue to evaluate and add traits as necessary over time.
In order to make the best use of EPDs it is most helpful to have breeding plan goals for your overall herd as well as for specific animals within your herd. Use EPDs to help you select for a group of potential herdsires or animals to purchase and then evaluate those animals on their other merits — type, conformation, color, maternal qualities, general robustness of health, and temperament are additional traits that may have significant impact on the success of your breeding plans.
- EPDs are environmentally neutral, that is, they factor-in, or compensate for, environmental differences existing where the alpaca is reared.
- As more information accumulates, the EPD can change.
- As data accumulates, the EPD becomes increasingly stable.
- It is important to realize that the reported EPD is the best estimate we have of the true EPD.
An accuracy is given to each trait on each alpaca that an EPD is calculated for. Accuracy is based on the amount of performance information available on the animal and its connected relatives — particularly the number of progeny analyzed. Accuracy is also based on the heritability of the trait and the genetic correlations with other recorded traits. Hence accuracy is a relative indicator of the confidence you can place in that particular EPD.
An accuracy value is represented by a number between 0 and 1. Accuracy is a relative indicator of the confidence you can place in that particular EPD. The closer an accuracy is to one, the more reliable the EPD value is.
How to Participate
Trait data is collected on nine fleece traits along with birth weight, weaning weight, and birthing ease. Birth weight, weaning weight, birthing ease, and fleece weights are entered by the owner on the "Trait Data" tab of the alpaca's page. To learn more about these traits read User Entered Trait Data. All other trait data must be submitted directly to AOA from an approved fiber testing lab.
Preparing Your Fleece Sample for Submission
For inclusion in the AOA EPD Program, fleece samples should be taken from the mid-side of the alpaca and cut at the base of the staple near the skin. This needs to be a 4"x4" sample. Please note that this is larger than the 2"x2" sample required for simple fleece testing. The sample will then be mailed to an approved testing lab, along with the computer-generated order form provided by AOA's automated Shear Report Tool. Read the Shear Report Guide for instructions on using AOA's online shear report tool.
Once your fleece sample has been tested, you will receive the histogram results for each animal directly from the lab. An electronic copy of the results are forwarded to AOA for inclusion in the EPD program.