Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) Stars

The Alpaca Registry has just released the 2013 Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) results, and we are once again thrilled with the results.  A number of our alpacas are featured in the top 1% on several fiber characteristics, many others ranked in the top ranks of alpacas across the country.  You may remember our post regarding our herdsire Powergrid being ranked number 1 in last year’s EPD standings for Standard Deviation of Average Fiber Diameter.  You can read more about that here.  Read on for news about our EPD stars and further description of how we use the EPD data in our breeding program.

Snobelle is a relative newcomer to our breeding program and is our Number 1 Star in the EPD program this year.  We were already extremely impressed with her first cria born on our farm out of Lord Tennyson, Wild Bells, but were thrilled to see her EPD results.  Snobelle ranked in the top 1% in four different categories related to the fineness of her fiber Average Fiber Diameter (AFD), Standard Deviation of AFD (AFDSD), Spin Fineness (SF), and percent of fibers less than 30 microns, and in the top 12% in Fleece Weight and Mean Curvature (which measures crimp).   This year, the Alpaca Registry is featuring the top 1% with a red shield on their pages to denote their elite fiber status.

Another star on the farm is Lucky, with top 1% ranking in AFD, Standard Deviation (AFDSD), Spin Fineness (SF), and top 5% ranking in fibers under 30 microns and % Medulation, as well as top 10% in Mean Curvature (a measure of crimp).

Ima Joy and her daughter Angelica both ranked in the top 1% in the lack of medulation category (% Medulation).  Of particular note, was Powergrid and many of his offspring being in the top 1% related to the Standard Deviation of Average Fiber Diameter.  The list included not only Powergrid, but his crias Marcus, Elise, Ziva David, Lightning Bolt and Solar Flare.

We were pleased with the number of our alpacas included in the top 5 and 10% rankings among alpacas in multiple characteristics. We will take this data and use the areas in which each alpaca was strong or weak to make more informed breeding decisions to further improve the next generation.

EPDs are used as part of the data we use to consistently improve the fiber characteristics of our alpaca herd with each generation.  Breeding decisions are one of the most important ones we make as alpaca farmers.  So, we use all the data we can to make the best breeding combinations each season. We evaluate our alpacas in a number of ways, including a hands on assessment and scientific analysis of their fiber.  Each year at shearing time, we take a sample from the fleece of our alpacas.  This sample comes from the midside of the alpaca, and is sent to Yocum-McColl fiber testing lab where it is assessed for a number of traits important to alpaca breeders, including: fineness, measured as Average Fiber Diameter; consistency of the fiber diameter across the sample, measured as Standard DeviationComfort Factor, measured by the number of fibers under 30 microns in diameter (fibers above this will ‘prickle’ skin when in a yarn), % Medulation which also contributes to the soft feel of alpaca fiber; Staple Length and Fleece Weight.

From that analysis, we receive a histogram for each alpaca detailing their fiber statistics.  That report is also sent on to the Alpaca Registry (ARI) who yearly use this data from alpaca farmers across the country to generate EPDs.  EPDs are used in many livestock industries to guide breeding decisions.  They help us by giving a numerical value to show which alpacas are most likely to pass on specific fiber characteristics, and incorporate not only the data from individual alpacas, but also their ancestors and offspring to further enhance the accuracy of this information and give us guidance as we plan for the next generation of alpacas.

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