Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can I name a Cria anything I want or are there guidelines?

I am going to go over some basic rules on the policy & procedures of ARI on how/what you can and cannot name a cria.  If you are a member of ARI - then all this info is readily available on the ARI website and I will quote sections so that you can read the info for yourself.  If you are not an ARI member - you will not be able to access this part of the ARI website.

Breeder Identifiers - A breeder identifier is a unique identifier chosen by the Indicated Owner and approved by the Registry for owners of ARI registered alpacas. (Section 04-03) of ARI Policy & Procedures

Why should you have a breeders id?
  1. It says to the world that you bred and created this animal.  This is a real feather in your cap especially if he/she was sold and has gone on to have a very successful show career or produced progeny that were successful .
  2. It makes it much easier to name a cria.  For example - there may be a ton of animals named "Apollo" or "Thor" but once you attach your breeder's id to that name - it makes that animal unique to your farm and unique in the ARI database.   
Naming crias -

Usually these rules involve breeder ids:

One of the specific rules regarding naming an alpaca is :

"An alpaca name cannot include a breeder identifier other than that of the Indicated Owner of the dam at the time of service without permission of the Indicated Owner of the dam at the time of service. " (Section 04-03) of ARI Policy & Procedures

This is something that often confuses a lot of breeders at the time of cria registration.    Translated, this simply means that unless you owned the DAM at the time of conception/service, you CANNOT name the cria with your breeder id WITHOUT the express permission of the DAM owner at time of conception/service (usually the seller). 

EXAMPLE  1 -  I will use my breeder id "Alma Park"  and the generic name "Some Alpaca Farm" as the other breeder id.   Alma Park finances a dam  to Some Alpaca Farm.  The date of the contract is March 1 2009, and the last payment is scheduled to be made on March 1, 2010.  This dam is bred on May 25, 2009 with an expected due date of May 16, 2010.   Some Alpaca Farm makes all his payments on time and the Dam's ARI is transferred on March 15, 2010.  The cria is born on May 14, 2010.  What are the possible names that the baby can be registered as  :

1 - Some Alpaca Farm Butterscotch
2 - Alma Park Butterscotch
3 - Butterscotch

Number 1  -  would need express authorization from the Dam owner (Alma Park) at time of service.   Many established breeders/sellers are building a brand and it is doubtful as to whether they will let this be authorized. 
Number 2 - this too would need express authorization from the Dam owner (Alma Park) at time of service.  Many established breeders/sellers would let this go through no problem
Number 3 - a quick search of ARI shows 90 alpacas with the name Butterscotch somewhere in them and generic names like this are ofter auto-rejected by the ARI system.  But if it is a unique enough name - these one word names would go through no problem as it does not violate any ARI policies or procedures.

EXAMPLE 2 -  I will use my breeder id "Alma Park"  and the generic name "Some Alpaca Farm" as the other breeder id.

A Dam was purchased for cash on April 13, 2008 pregnant and due Oct 12, 2008.  The ARI was transferred on April 25, 2008.  Sometime in August of 2008, the Dam lost her baby and it did not survive.  The Dam was bred back in Oct 2008 and gave birth to a healthy boy on Oct 15, 2009.  What can this cria be named:

1 - Some Alpaca Farm Apollo
2 - Alma Park Apollo
3 - Apollo

Number 1  -  since the dam was owned by Some Alpaca Farm at the time of service - this is a perfectly acceptable name
Number 2 - this would need express authorization from Alma Park and I am not quite sure why the new owner would want to do this.  It is up to the individual breeder/seller to decide if this is ok. 
Number 3 - This would pose the same issue as number 3 in our last example. 

The Dam owner at time of service would still need to sign off on this cria.  The stud owner will also have to sign off on this cria.  Just remember the sire and sire owner HAS NO bearing on how you can name a cria.   It is ONLY the Dam owner at time of service /conception.  My saying to new people is "whoever owns the uterus at service gets to name the cria" . . . .

Changing the name of an alpaca -
Name changes shall be allowed for alpacas having no registered offspring. (Section 04-05) of ARI Policy & Procedures

Proposed name changes must also comply with the naming requirements of policy ARI 04-04 Alpaca Names. (Section 04-05) of ARI Policy & Procedures

While I have never had the desire or need to change an alpaca's registered name -this does happen and there are valid reasons for it.

Translating these 2 sentences of the code means that if an alpaca has no registered offspring, a name change is rather easily accomplished if the change complies with the naming requirements in section 04-04 of the ARI Policy & Procedures code which we spoke about above.   If there are registered offspring then there has to be a petition made to the BOD of ARI. 

EXAMPLE 1 -  I will use my breeder id "Alma Park"  and the generic name "Some Alpaca Farm" as the other breeder id.   A Dam was purchased and financed with cria at side on March 1, 2009.  Cria was less than a week old when Dam was purchased. The cria came with the Dam and there was no value placed on the cria.  Dam was not paid off until March 1, 2010.  The cria was named Alma Park CutiePie and the ARI certificate was in the sellers name.   Once the dam was paid off and both the ARI for the Dam and Cria were transferred to the buyer, the buyer attempted to change the crias name to Some Alpaca Farm CutiePie.   This would obviously be denied.  Firstly, the cria was born prior to the buyer even entering into a contract for the Dam and the seller obviously made the breeding decision for this Dam and owned the Dam at time of Conception and owned the Dam at time of birth of the cria. 

EXAMPLE 2 -  I named an alpaca "Alma Park Snook'ems" cause he was so adorable at birth.  Well as Snook'ems grew up, he did amazingly well at shows and was really destined to be a herdsire.  Since Snook'ems did not sound like a regal enough name and had not started his breeding career and had no registered cria, it is quite easy for me to go into the registry and change his name.

Change - Alma Park Snook'ems to Alma Park Stud Muffin

I was the dam owner at conception so I did not have to ask anyone's permission even if I had no longer owned the dam.

Other items in name such as "Bolivian", "Peruvian", "Accoyo" etc etc -

There are no specific guidelines in the ARI Policy & Procedures for this type of additions to names.  When I started breeding 8 years ago, it was very common to see these types of items in names and many farms use it today.  It is largely for marketing.  I personally do not use this when I name any of my crias simply because I prefer to use unique names that are fun and have a story behind them.  Many people also like to add the Sire's name, again, this is great for marketing especially if it is a well known sire.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Alpaca Fiber Herd Viability

This article is also scheduled to be published in the August 2010 edition of The Alpaca Ontario Newsletter

Once upon a time, not that long ago, alpaca breeders focused on increasing their herds, breeding up and selling seed stock.  New people came into the alpaca industry for promises of a country life, a simpler life,  and a laid back lifestyle leaving corporate America behind.   A small percentage of alpaca owners decided long ago that the fiber was the reason behind raising these lovely creatures, not quick profits or a certain lifestyle; and a cottage fiber industry was born.  Amazing products came to market in the form of wonderful yarns, socks, blankets, felted items and more.  As the US reaches almost 200,000 alpacas today coast to coast, the possibility of a commercial industry comes more into focus and viability of fiber herds is on the mind of enterprising individuals looking for a commercial fiber or textile industry.  

Most alpaca breeders across the US have small herds numbering less than 20 and the alpacas are treated more as pets then livestock.  In order for a fiber herd to be viable, emotions must shift from family pets to livestock herds, much the way cattle, goats and sheep are raised today.   In order to run an effective fiber herd enterprise several hundred alpacas must be raised and expenses minimized in order for profits to be realized.

Location in the viability of a fiber herd is a huge decision and there are certain areas of the country that will not be conducive to profitability.   For example, in the Northeastern US, M-Worm is a genuine concern for the health of alpacas.   Until a viable vaccine is developed or somehow else M-Worm is eradicated, the cost of treating alpacas monthly with Ivomec is costly and cost prohibitive for fiber herd viability.  With the cost of medicine, syringe, needles at the rate of 1cc/50 pounds, each animal will cost approx $1.50 per month.  For a herd of 500 alpacas, that is $750 per month and that is before labor is even taken into account to round up the animals, dose them and let them back out to graze.   In terms of location, other costs must be also evaluated.  Feeding hay on a dry lot farm will be a deterrent to profitability.  Large pastureland like those enjoyed by cattle or goat/sheep breeders will need to be obtained in order to keep feed costs down.  Minerals will need to be kept as an expense, but grain supplementation is probably something that needs to be carefully evaluated against the bottom line.  Adequate grazing areas with appropriate load rates of 5 – 7 alpacas per acre will need to be utilized not only for pasture preservation purposes but as well as parasite management. 

While capital expenses such as land and animal acquisition need to be taken into account, it is the day-to-day expenses that really need to be managed in order for profitability to be realized.  While researching livestock, I found countless articles on the science behind milk production in cattle based on certain feed rations etc.  There is a science behind end product production and cost of input.  Since fiber is the end product, more research needs to be done by what feed is optimal in a fiber herd in order to increase output and quality.  Of course most would argue that fiber yield or quality is solely based on genetics, there is degree of change that can be brought about by nutrition and management. 

Other expenses to consider are cost of labor, electricity, water, property taxes and insurance.  These will vary drastically on a number of factors such as location, family/purchased land, and are beyond the scope of this article.  Expenses such as shearing and vet bills also need to be managed.  Shearing of alpacas today is a minimum of $25 per head.  Sheep breeders enjoy a cost of $6 per head.  Many would say this is due to the fact that sheep are easier to shear and the lanolin in their coats prevents blades from becoming dull as quickly as happens with alpacas.  Others would argue that it is because shearers charge alpaca people more because of the cost of the animals.  In either event, costs must be controlled and it would be prudent for the fiber herd owner to become proficient in this skill him/herself or have labor on staff that is proficient.   Vet bills need to be carefully managed as well.  Most alpaca breeders today go to extraordinary measures to keep healthy or even save the life of an alpaca.  Some breeders even go so far as prosthetic devices, chemotherapy, extended hospital stays and more.  In the future of the fiber herd, the harsh reality is going to be that the strong will survive and there will be a percentage of the herd lost each year. 

Markets must be sought after to sell raw fiber to immediately upon shearing, so that the fiber producer concentrates on producing fiber and not marketing or advertising a finished product.  In the absence of this, the fiber herd owner needs to be able to skirt, sort, grade and process his/her fiber and either needs to work with a mill or own a mill in order to process the fiber.   Cost such labor for sorting, production, shipping, marketing and advertising also need to be taken into account. 

The largest shift in building a fiber herd rather than a breeding herd as most farms exist today is in attitude and emotion; daily interaction and alpacas as extended family will be replaced by profitability and expense management of a true livestock model.   There will always be small farms who continue to interact daily with the herd and have a lifestyle in which the alpacas are a daily part, these farm models will remain part of the cottage industry and the commercial industry will shift to the larger fiber herds across the country.