What are EPD’s ?
EPD stands for Expected Progeny Difference. Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) is considered the gold standard that provides an animal’s genetic value as a parent. The simple explanation is that it provides a “Genetic Profile” that describes how much change it will provide/contribute to its offspring in a breeding matchup.(Both parents contribute about 50%) EPD data is very easy to use.
The EPD data charts above describe that Alpaca A will reduce fiber diameter by 2.5 micron and increase fleece production by .67 lb. and Alpaca B will increase fiber diameter by 1.79 micron and reduce fiber production by 1.82 lbs. If Alpaca A was a herdsire and Alpaca B a female, this would probably be a good match up as her offspring would improve to about average in AFD quality and better fiber production. If A and B where both males, Alpaca A would be the better choice to improve fiber quality and increase production.
Currently, the alpaca EPD program is tracking 9 production traits that are believed to be the most important production at this stage of the industry. EPD’s are a tool to help breeders improve their herd production by making better purchasing and breeding decisions.
Historically livestock breeders have used Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) and show results. EBV work pretty well but it take years and many offspring to establish an animals reproducibility. Show results are purely judging appearance (phenotype) which may or may not have much bearing on an animals genetic value.
EPD vs SHOW Results
We have been participating in an EPD Program since 2005 and also continued to show our alpacas nationwide. We excelled in the show ring obtaining results way beyond or expectations as a small breeder. We have not been very involved with showing recently as our proven production results don’t justify the expense, time and travel commitment needed.
The Alpaca Show system is an important part of the industry. It can be helpful to meet other alpaca breeders and also gain experience looking at the results of other breeding programs. Show results are also helpful to breeders looking to boost their marketing presence. Unfortunately, the current AOA show results are not a reliable source to identify an animals genetic value in a pairing or as a comparison among other alpacas. It is expected that the AOA show system will follow the lead of other livestock industries and introduce objective testing in the judging criteria.
EPD’s are not just for the the elite alpacas and breeding programs. In fact, it’s most beneficial use is helping breeders with average or below average genetics make rapid improvement. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about how you can use this program to help you improve and plan your herd.