Picking the right Alpaca herdsire for this generation of your herd can make or break the entire generation at your farm. Choosing a champion Alpaca as your main herdsire can take your herd to the next level instantly. On the opposite spectrum, choosing the wrong one can send you in a downward spiral FAST.
What is a Herdsire?
A Herdsire is a male Alpaca that you keep primarily for Sir’ing your farm. He is meant to be the daddy to as many females as possible to produce high quality Cria’s and expand the herd. Most large farms have a handful of herdsire’s so that they can continually expand without crossing bloodlines. If your herdsire produces quality offspring that other breeders will even pay a stud fee to have your herdsire breed with their females.
A herdsire should be one of, if not the, best quality male you have on your farm. In order to continually improve the quality of your herd, you need two parents with the best genetic qualities possible. If your herdsire has produces top quality fiber, then most of his offspring will produce the same.
Spare no expense when acquiring your herdsire. If you start with a low quality herdsire, you will need to continually find better quality to improve the quality of your herd. Starting with a top of the line herdsire will allow you to skip a lot of that process and start you at the top.
What to look for
The most important thing to look for when selecting a herdsire is to be sure that he does not have any conformation faults. Make sure that the legs are as straight as can be and the bones are thick. If you have a crooked legged herdsire, then you are going to end up with a herd of crooked legged Alpaca.
The second most important thing to look for is the quality and quantity of the fiber. Which herdsire you select will vary greatly depending on your preference here. Most high quality Alpaca will either be producers of a large amount of fiber or producers of the highest quality fiber, but rarely both.
If your entire business is centered on your farm producing as much fiber as possible, then you want to start with a herdsire that produces as much fiber as possible. It’s important to look at more than just how much fiber he produced, but how much was produced in his bloodline.
You should also pay attention to how long they produce this amount of fiber as they age. If they produce 10 lbs. of fiber a year for the first 5 years and then drop to 3 lbs. a year, you should probably look for a different herdsire. You don’t want to bet the farm on something that could turn out like that.
Some farms would rather focus their energy on the quality of the fiber produced. Some farms have been known to have adult Alpaca fiber classified as baby Alpaca grade, which fetches a high premium. If you can get your herd to produce fiber of this quality, you will produce more income.
The last thing to look for in a herdsire is overall “proudness”. You want him to walk up on a hill with his head held high looking like he owns that hill. Good posture and overall proudness will help keep the quality of your Alpaca heard strong.
How to Pick The Right One
Don’t bet your farm on a young boy that may or may not grow up to be a champion. While he may look like he is going to grow up and be one of the best herdsires of the land, he may not even be able to reproduce when it comes time. You want to have as many potential suitors as you can to begin selecting from.
Many breeders use a process of elimination in order to select the perfect herdsire for their Alpaca herd. They will start with a group of Alpaca and eliminate them from the running as they do not make the standards. When they are “eliminated” from the running, they will be castrated so that they can be kept in the large pack with the females.
The first test for most breeders is how much fiber they produce in their first year. The first year fiber is the softest and worth the most money, but it is the hardest to get as well. Most will suggest that an Alpaca herdsire should produce at least 6 lbs. of fiber with its first cut.
The next test for your young potential herdsire is the results of the second year cut. This is where you will start to see how much fiber they are going to produce over the long haul. You are looking to see over 10 lbs. of fiber here if you want to get your herd producing like the best of them.
As the years go by, you want to make sure that they keep producing a large amount of fiber. As we mentioned earlier, they aren’t a good Alpaca herdsire if they produce a quarter of what they are producing now in a Few years. Keep track of this information so that you can showcase the herdsire as a stud to other Alpaca farms that are looking to create their own head Alpacas.