Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seedstock vs Commercial

At the Snowmass 2010 auction, they do it again with a record breaking sale for an alpaca male. Matrix sold for a whopping $675,000. Total proceeds of the sale were $2.1 million.

Doing my research before jumping into the alpaca business 8 years ago, I was curious to see why the alpaca industry did not follow the same model as most other livestock. Alpacas seemed to have no "commercial" animals. In most livestock models, there are 2 types of animals; seedstock and commercial. Seedstock animals will always sell for a premium price because the will advance the breed. One recent example is "Missy the cow", who sold for a record breaking $1.2 million at auction in Canada last November. Missy is considered an advancement because of her milk production, conformation and overall advancement over her lineage. Most commercial cows that are sold/bred for milk or meat can be picked up for a few hundred dollars. Other examples of this can be found in all livestock industries, horses, pigs, goats and more. Typically in any livestock industry, there is a "pyramid" distribution with seedstock at the top. Seedstock typically accounts for 15 - 20% of the overall population.

So why, you may ask has that not yet happened in alpacas? My theory stems from the fact that most alpaca breeders are not from livestock backgrounds and often breed on cuteness or emotion instead of cold hard facts like EPD (expected progeny differences). EPD is an estimate of the genetic merit of an alpaca for a single trait. This could be fiber quality, birthing ease, cria weight and many more.

I believe as the national herd becomes larger, we will see a clear delineation between commercial and seedstock animals and BOTH have their rightful place in this industry. Seedstock animals will go on to advance the industry in terms of fiber production and conformation and commercial animals will advance the industry in terms of a viable commercial fiber product.

I don't think there is anything new or amazing in my blog post here, just maybe a reality check to all those folks who think their entire herd is made up of seedstock. I think many folks need to stop being "barn blind" and realize that as they look out at their herd - only 20% of them can possibly be seedstock - unless they are the luckiest breeders on earth!

1 comment:

Knapper Alpakka said...

I think you are right. In all parts of the world you have those that just want cute animals, and you have those that actually are trying to advance the alpaca population. The first type is more common, especially in the USA.

But we need both types!