I have been asked this question so much that I decided to write a blog post about it in order to help out the breeders out there that are unaware of the "levels" at an alpaca show. Many newbies are confused, but I have also met many experienced breeders who wonder how the levels are determined, so here it is in a nutshell!!
Levels are assigned based on how many alpacas will come to show. In other showing circles (such as dogs), you must qualify for a lower level before moving up. . .but that is not true of the AOBA certified show system. As you can see from the table below, the higher the level, the more competitive the show will be. Many level I and II shows do not have enough alpacas for championships and have color classes combined, like white and beige. At the level V shows, if you place in the ribbons it is what I like to call "A good ribbon" even if it is 6th. At a level 5 show, the white juvi boys could have 15 animals in a single class. . . to place 6th means you STILL beat 9 other animals.
Level I (Halter: 36-99) (Fleece: 36-74)
Level II (Halter: 100-299) (Fleece: 75-174)
Level III (Halter: 300-499) (Fleece: 175-349)
Level IV (Halter: 500-799) (Fleece: 350+)
Level V (Halter: 800+)
I think that there are some changes that would really make showing more meaningful to the alpaca world. I think qualifying like the dog show world does would allow the cream of the crop to come out on top because only the "top dogs" would compete at level 5 shows.
I also think that if an animal takes a championship at a level 5 show, he/she should NOT be allowed to show at a lower level show - like 3 or 4. Some smaller farms go to only the smaller shows and when they are competing with a level 5 champion, the do not have a chance in many cases.
What do you think?