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Alpaca Conformation

When buying alpacas, it's important to understand good from bad conformation. Good conformation in alpacas is inherited from the parents. If you are considering the purchase of breedable alpacas, then you want animals, whose conformation can be passed down to their babies.

Alpacas are fleece animals. We raise them to harvest their incredibly soft, light-weight abundant fiber. Alpaca fleece is in high demand by luxury garmemt makers worldwide. In the United States, many halter shows are moving towards evaluating animals 60% on fleece characteristics and 40% on conformation, or body-skeletal characteristics. Conformation deals with an alpaca's ability to easily reproduce young, eat sufficiently to intake adequate nutrition, and walk around. The following list indicates conformation characteristics to look for when considering an alpaca purchase. buy

Ears

Ideal ears are curved on the sides and pointed at the top. They should NOT be like llama's "banana ears," which has the whole ear curving inwards. Alpaca ears are also shorter than llama ears.

Eyes

Big, dark-colored, clear eyes are normal. Blue eyes may indicate deafness. Gently pull the upper lid up to check for healthy pink or red blood vessels. Lack of blood vessels in this area may indicate the presence of intestinal worms and/or anemia.

Nose

Alpacas have shorter snouts than llamas. Currently, a nose that is a little more square than pointed is preferred.

Top Knot

Fiber coverage on head relates to a denser fleece on the body. For the animal's health, always keep the topknot trimmed above its eyes, so that it can see where it's going. A long, felted top knot is unattractive.

Gums

A darker color on palate and gums can indicate darker alleles and the chances that alpaca will throw color in its breeding future. In white and light colored alpacas, pink gums are healthy. Pale gums may indicate the presence of intestinal worms and/or anemia.

Bite

The lower teeth should align with the upper dental pad. An overbite or underbite of the lower teeth is bad conformation. Alpacas loose their baby teeth at about 2-3 years of age, and the adult teeth emerge from behind. Males have fighting teeth at about 2 to 3 years of age.

Body Proportions

The neck length is 2/3rds the length of the back from the withers to the croup. The withers are where the neck meets the back, and the croup is where the base of tail emerges from the spine.

Top Line

The top line is slightly curved and more rounded toward the rear. Llamas have longer, straighter backs because they have been bred for thousands of years to carry weight. The more weight the better. Alpacas have a more rounded end then a llama and because they were bred for fiber.

Legs

Alpacas should "double track" when moving. That is, the left back legs moves in a straight behind the front left let, and the right back leg moves behind the right front leg. The left and right sides move in separate, but parallel straight tracks. "Single tracking" where the left and right sides move close towards one single line are bad conformation. In females, single tracking in the rear may indicate small pelvis that would cause difficult births.

Front legs with "knock knees" that tilt inwards are incorrect. Front legs should be straight from the shoulders down to the feet. Back legs where the elbow tilts inward are "cow-hocked" and incorrect. When looking from the side, the there should be a natural hock or bend in the back leg.

 

This page was last updated on June 9, 2009.

 

Able Oaks Ranch 6167 FM1857 S. Rusk TX 75785 | 903-530-1009