A completely new, extended and innovative follicle density testing service for United States alpaca breeders!
Please note: We will not test males under 18 months of age or females under 15 months of age, as we believe that data collected under these ages is not reliable or necessarily representative of an adult alpaca.
Skin biopsy testing is an objective way of understanding the genetic value of some measurable traits, against what we guess them to be through subjective visual and tactile assessment. Objective measurements not only detail what the values truly are but also provide breeders with the opportunity to adjust the subjectivity with which they assess those same traits by touch and eye.
For example, many breeders assess density by squeezing the fleece in their hand and opening the fleece to see how much fiber is between their fingers and the skin. The reality is that neither practices are reliable indicators of density—if the skin cannot be seen, the animal may not be as dense as one where the skin can be seen, and compression (squeezing) is not a reliable indicator of density either—but skin biopsy data is absolute!
Density is measured by follicles/mm2 but by itself, this measure is next to meaningless. It is helpful to understand the Secondary:Primary ratio (S:P), the difference between in-skin micron counts for both primary and secondary follicle diameters, the Standard Deviation (SD) of both types of fibers, average daily growth rate of the fiber and the degree of stretch (indicating amplitude) which is associated with crimp frequency.
The more of these individual traits that line up as being better than previous sires, makes for better, more reliable and more predictable breeding decisions. Inversely, the fewer traits that line up, the less reliable the quality of the breeding decision.
The cost of the test can be either seen to be expensive or an investment in the future genetic potential of the breeding plan and the herd.
If the test results support superior genetics, the investment is positive. If the test shows less than desirable genetic potential, this is also a plus—the fee saves the breeder from introducing lower quality genetics into the herd: a form of genetic insurance.
Samples can be taken by the breeder or can be done by a veterinarian—it is not difficult, is quick and is no worse than a shearing cut.
A kit is sent to the breeder containing everything the sampler needs including the biopsy punch, bottle with formalin, addressed padded bag for return of the sample, instruction sheet, information sheet and checklist.
The breeder receives a written report and histograms by direct email with the fleece sample test data put on a breeder webpage at www.alpacastats.com.
Please click on the "Follicle Density Tests (per test)" items below for more information and for how to sample and where to send samples.