AlpacaGram 7.44 | SGS Qualifies as a Fiber Testing Lab for AOA's EPD Program

AlpacaGram 7.44
AlpacaGram 7.44June 2, 2020

SGS Qualifies as a Fiber Testing Lab for AOA's EPD Program

Many, if not most, of you have successfully and safely finished shearing. Our annual harvest appears to have gone well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to bag, label and prepare your samples to send for testing at our new AOA Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) fiber testing vendor.

We have selected SGS, Inc., a multi-national corporation with broad expertise in analytical testing capabilities. Their fiber testing service is in New Zealand. We have selected the best fiber testing lab we have found as our first approved vendor. Angus McColl identified SGS as the most suitable lab to take over his customers in the sheep and alpaca industries, as well as other fiber production industries. We concur. SGS follows ASTM, NIST, and IWTO procedures for fiber testing and instrument calibration. SGS offers the necessary technical and commercial level of service required for use in quantitative analysis for EPD calculation.

We share your concerns regarding shipping samples to New Zealand. However, at this point, it is the only lab that meets our criteria for the EPD program. This is just one approved lab and we are continuing to seek out a lab here in the United States. As we move forward with SGS and continue our search here at home, it is important that we share the history and reasoning behind our choices.

In 2008, Angus McColl of Yocom-McColl and current AOA Board President, Shauna R. Brummet, PhD (then Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Alpaca Registry, Inc.) shared with breeders the value of the base of staple sampling method and use of the OFDA100 instrument for fiber analysis. Fiber researchers in the US and Australia agreed with the soundness of the approach adopted by ARI and AOA for its EPD program. This methodology generates the highest accuracy data from 2000+ fiber snippets for average fiber diameter and standard deviation (SD) of fiber diameter across the staple (compared to measuring about 100 fibers by an OFDA2000 instrument). This instrument is the most suitable for generating data for quantitative analysis. The method is also the only one that can measure fiber medullation in white and light fleeces. Most importantly, the base of staple sampling method supports strong contemporary groups, a critical component of ever increasing accuracy of EPD calculations, by increasing the opportunity for the fiber growth under the most similar conditions in animals at a location.

More recently, we have seen another significant value of the high accuracy (many data points) across-staple SD data. We have evidence that there is a genetic mechanism that controls uniformity (across staple) independent of fiber diameter. Producing high accuracy standard deviation data is critical to assessing this trait. Our quantitative geneticist, Mark Enns, PhD, is studying this trait and EPD generation now.

SGS has several of the OFDA100 instruments, fully operational, and maintained appropriately for many years of use. SGS has also acquired all of Yocom-McColl's instrumentation. They are ready to accept samples now.

We have also recently learned that one large breeder has determined that the per sample cost for testing will be significantly less for them, even when the cost of shipping is included.

The SGS website is www.wooltesting.sgs.com. Testing can be ordered online at onlineservices.sgs.com/nz. Chose the Yocom-McColl Alpaca Breeders EPD package in the drop down menu to have your results included in the next calculation.

Testing is US $9.50 per sample. A $20 processing fee is also added to each order. SGS has advised us that it is more cost effective to use USPS to mail smaller shipments and DHL for larger shipments. Request assistance on DHL shipping at www.dhl.com.

We encourage everyone who has participated in the AOA EPD program to continue to do so and submit fiber samples this year. Instructions for participating in the AOA EPD program can be found at www.alpacainfo.com/academy/epd.

Working during a global quarantine has made for additional challenges. Thank you for your patience.

Submit your fleece samples by August 10 to be included in the 2020 AOA EPD calculation!

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