Alpaca NeoNatal Class and Wet Lab

Fall 2022 Alpaca Neonatal Class @Stargazer Ranch Loveland, Colorado.

How prepared are you for your next birthing season! We are hosting a neonatal clinic for alpaca owners & interested breeders. This day long program will consist of a morning lecture and an afternoon wet lab for hands on experience identifying a dystocia birth. The program is presented by Dr Richard Wheeler DVM, Diplomate American College of Theriogenologists.  Click Here for more information and sign -up.

Stargazer’s Insight

Stargazer's Insight

Insight is maturing magnificently. He is bred for persistent fineness, greater uniformity, and high frequency crimp. He has a superb temperament and is very easy to handle.

His fleece is exceptionally well structured and fine. Physically he is proportionally correct with good coverage and a true to type head style. His ancestry is a unique combination of proven elite Accoyo, Allianza, and Antacalla genetics to carry through into your herd.

Insight is ready to go work Fall of 2022.

Financing available: 6 months same as cash with 1/3 down or up to 24 months @7% interest.

Stargazer’s Encore

Stargazer's Encore

There’s a lot to like about this boy. 6 traits will perform in the top 1% and five of those are in the top 1$ of the top 1%. That puts him and his offspring in a very elite club. Encore is the result of several crosses of Accoyo, Allianza and Antacalla. Unfortunately, we don’t have many girls here we can use him on. and are very open to a partnership or out-right sale.

Snowmass Beloved Legend

Snowmass Beloved Legend

Now in our 23 year and breeding for our 6th generation, we needed a high quality, unrelated herdsire to continue to make progess in our herd improvement goals and Legend is well qualified. High in our herdsire criteria is the ability to improve AFD uniformity and density and this boy checks those boxes as well as many more.

He has a limited number of breedings available. We also have a great selection of high quality herdsires that are too related to use in our program that are available at this time

Eagle Valley Eyota

Eagle Valley Eyota

We talk a lot about the results we’ve seen from the Accoyo and Allianza crosses. Eyota is a herdsire we obtained from another small breeder with similar goals.

His first offspring have arrived and we are thrilled with the future herdsire and the three girls he has sired so far.

Stargazer’s Legacy by YO!

Stargazer's Legacy by YO!

Legacy is always our herdsire choice when we want to carry the dams dark color through to her cria along with great conformation and a larger frame. His long staple is a plus when bred to dense females the offspring will be among the best of the best in total fleece weight. He would be the ideal male for a breeding program that values a show style head with a strong presence and also improving EPD’s

Multiple top Accoyos; Legacy, Caligula, Vengador and El Mustachio as well as Hemmingway lineages

Stargazer’s Zion

Stargazer's Zion

Zion has a solid frame and excellent conformation. His ancestry is among the best of the best, originating from the Accoyo and Allianza imports. His EPDs reveal he is solidly in the top 10% for many traits assuring great offspring and outstanding fiber production.

Zion’s purpose in life is to help the producer to increase revenue from offspring, raw fiber and retail yarn  sales.

2014 20.2 4.4 21.5 2.0
2015 18.8 4.0 21.1 0.9

Financing available: 6 months same as cash with 1/3 down or up to 24 months @7% interest.

Rumbles Zakai

Rumbles Zakai

Zakai has a great fleece and Genetic profile!

His handle is superb and the density is phenomenal. This level of fineness will likely last a lifetime. His sire, Royal Rumble is one of the most persistently fine herdsires anywhere.

(Rumble is still under 20 micron at 9 years old.)  Zakai’s dam, Zoey, is the result of one of our best sires and dams, YO and Catena.

His EPd’s indicate the same as our expectations as he ranks among the top 1%-5% in the same traits as his lineage.

2017 16.7 3.5 21.1 0.5
2018 15.1 3.4 22.7 0.4
2019 17.1 3.6 20.8 0.3

2020 18.6  4.6 20.6  0.3 (sheared 9.5 lbs)

Financing available: 6 months same as cash with 1/3 down or up to 24 months @7% interest.

Stargazer Herd Fiber Stats

Every year since we started over 20 years ago we compiled our herd statistics to help us determine our progress. Its a very simple, but important, step to make sure we were going the right direction.

We are very pleased to see that even though our herd is getting older our fiber production remains fine. I have no doubt that if we were around for another generation or two we’d see the average fall below 20 for all our breeding age alpacas.

Breeders only have two decisions to make that will determine their success. What stock to buy and who to breed them to. Time will tell how you did.  Let us show you how you can predict where your herd will be in the next couple of generations.

How Can You Tell If An Alpaca Is Right for Your Herd?

How Can You Tell If An Alpaca Is Right for Your Herd?

Everybody says the same thing about their alpacas. It seems like everything will “improve fineness and increase density” …. if you’re comparing it to a rock that would undoubtedly be true.

“In the day” “B.C.” (Before Computers),… Livestock breeders would have track production results for generations to identify their best-producing animals.

Since computers and the introduction of EPD’s in the alpaca industry, identifying top animals have become easier, quicker, and much more accurate.

Your bottom line as a breeder will largely be determined by how successful you are in achieving desired results in the shortest amount of time.

“DO THE MATH”   EPDs enable you to predict and compare how an animal will perform and fit in among the animals in your herd and production goals.

How Much Is An Alpaca Worth?

How Much Is An Alpaca Worth?

Are you confused about prices and trying to make sense of it all?

You’re not alone. We hear this question from new and existing breeders alike.  Utilizing EPD’s in your search requirements will keep you focused on value along with price.

EPDs are easy to use and provide the quickest path to achieve desired results. EPD’s are also a great way to explain your breeding program to your customers.

Stargazer’s Callisto

Stargazer's         Callisto

We have dealt with hundreds of alpacas in the 20+ years we’ve been raising alpacas and Callisto is among the most memorable. (We mostly refer to him as Carlos.) Carlos is among the highest ranking males in the ARI EPD program for elite, lifetime fineness and increased FW (density). Not only is his fiber spectacular, and his conformation superb, he also exhibits the presence and disposition that makes raising alpacas rewarding on a more personal level. He is simply a beautiful male in every regard.

The qualities of the Allianza and Sollocotta cross is coming through beautifully. His pedigree is packed with best of Accoyo, Allianza and Sollocota genetics. He’s out of our champion Accoyo Augusto daughter, Stargazer’s Catena, and sired by Multi-Champion Accoyo America Apocalypse (Hemingway-Nautilus).

Elite pedigree and an accomplished show record, plus top EPD’s. He is ranked at the top (top 20) of all males among the  1% for AFD when combined with the greatest increase of fleece weight (density).

EPD TRAIT VALUES
AFD TOP 1%
SPIN FINENESS TOP 1%
% > 30 TOP 2%
REDUCE MEDULATION TOP 10%
INCREASED FLEECE WEIGHT TOP 4%

Histograms:
1 yr 15.2; 4.3; 28.4; 0.8
2 yr 17.5; 4.7; 26.9; 1.9
3 yr 18.4; 4.9; 26.8; 2.4
4 yr 17.7; 5.0; 28.0; 2.0
5 yr 20.1; 5.1; 25.4; 4.8
6 yr 17.8; 4.9; 27.4; 2.2%

Have questions about what EPDs are good for? Feel free to call us anytime.

Awards

2nd EPWN Fleece show 2012 Loner
2nd GWAS Get of Sire class 2011
2nd Fall Fest Get of Sire class 2009
4th AOBA Nationals White Adult males 2011 Safely
3rd Fall Fest Halter 2009 O’Leary
4th NWSS 2010 Loner
6th GWAS White Yrlng “B” 2010 Macleod
6th MOPACA 2010 VandenBosch

Shared Intelligence is Not Just For Aliens Anymore.

Google’s-EPD-MOBILE10 REASONS TO EMBRACE EPDs
By John Heise, Stargazer Ranch Alpacas, Loveland, Colorado

1. EPDs are the most advanced scientific method available today designed to establish an animal’s genetic profile. Not all that unlike the driverless Google car that develops it intelligence by sharing experience encountered by all other Google cars on the road, (Shared Intelligence), EPDs provide breeders with highly accurate predictions based upon the experience of all past breeding match-ups of all animals and ancestors in the program.

2. Alpaca EPD predictions are spot on. The genetic traits of offspring with EPD predictions will be true, or better than predicted, 84% of the time. Las Vegas would not exist if gambling could be made as predictable.

3. There is very little disagreement that the best future for the North American commercial alpaca fiber industry is to produce “Cashmere” quality fiber. According to the Angus industry that has had an active EPD program for over 20 years, they have made claims that “EPDs will help breeders reach a goal 9X’s faster than any other selection method”. EPDs provide a clear projection of what needs to be accomplished and how many generations will likely be necessary to reach that goal.

4. EPDs provide an OBJECTIVE measurement of an animal’s genetic contribution in a breeding scenario. Time is money. That statement is especially true when your alpaca business bottom line depends entirely upon how astute you are in making accurate breeding and purchasing decisions. With EPDs you will already have a pretty accurate plan of where that animal will fit into your program goals before the offspring is born. While using the other methods, it would take at least a year (more typically 2 years) before a realistic breeding evaluation can be made using observations of phenotype. Meanwhile you’ve already guessed at another breeding or two.

5. Participation in the EPD program is inexpensive. Affordability enables whole herd testing and improvement. Accurate identification of each animal’s strengths and weaknesses facilitates better utilization of all breeding stock. Being successful in any business requires moving forward. You can only determine which direction your herd is going if you know where it started from. Utilizing individual opinions of phenotypic qualities of just a few select performers in a herd isn’t of any value when it comes to predicting future herd production.

6. EPDs provide an objective comparison of an animal’s genetic merit and will provide a ranking as it fits in among all participating animals in the program. No need to rely solely on subjective phenotypic qualities that may change from year to year or characteristics that will not necessarily increase production income. An animal’s genetic merit remains relatively stable throughout its life.

7. EPDs identify individual animals that will perform outside their phenotypical appearance. Most breeders assume this means identifying only “less than ideal” appearing animals, which often may be due to age or environment. But EPD predictions will also help identify those highly attractive animals that will not “breed true” to phenotype. EPDs take out the guesswork when making individual and whole herd assessments. They will help to identify hidden gems that so often get overlooked or undervalued. Older animals have always been hard for new breeders to evaluate. EPDs identify some of the best values for starter stock.

8. EPDs are a “Hand in Glove” component which builds upon the Gold Standard that our registry has upheld. The greater the assurance a buyer has in expecting to get what they are paying for, translates into higher values. The DNA based registry system provides increased seller credibility and assurances to buyers of breeding stock and breeding services.

9. EPDs enable better breeding practices that will help alleviate genetic bottlenecks. Up until the 21st century, collecting top pedigrees was the norm in “breeding for the best”. So often the “best” were identified by subjective, phonotypical evaluation that closely followed the most “talked about and popular” bloodlines. With EPDs, breeders can match breeding pairs based upon their true genetic contribution, while still selecting completely unrelated individuals.

10. EPDs are simple and easy to use. While the science behind calculating EPDs may not easy to understand without a PhD in animal science, the actual day to day use of the data is simple and easy enough for even brand new breeders. No prior experience is needed. Anybody can select and expect the predicted results just the same as “experienced” breeders.

There are more than 10 reasons why I like EPDs. Actually, many, many more, but here are a few more that I think are worth including.

11. EPDs are a marketplace “Field Leveler”. In the past it was impossible for small, economically disadvantaged, breeders to effectively compete against the “illusion” that can be created with sophisticated national marketing efforts. Today, with EPD data, even small, brand new breeders have the ability to rank their breeding program and progress using the same benchmarks as everyone else.

12. The testing labs that provide the results for EPD calculations are ASTM certified and the methods used are the most accurate available in the industry. All EPD fiber production samples are tested using protocols and instruments that are designed to compare results from different environments. This is not the case for all fiber testing methods.

13. EPDs help identify superior females and are ideally suited for the alpaca industry as a whole. In the past, identifying superior breeding stock through traditional methods relied heavily upon evaluating large numbers of offspring. EPD calculations obtain data from the opposite direction and utilizes up to 4 generations of ancestors, siblings and other connected animals. This makes EPDs an ideal tool for use in the alpaca industry where data on large numbers of offspring are not possible for either male or female alpacas. I refer to the top females as “herdsire producers” as they are an equally important component in a breeding. Producing herdsire quality males requires top genetics obtained from both parents to achieve offspring with predictable performance. These elite females are the most likely to succeed in an embryo transfer (ET) program. While embryo transfer is not yet an accepted option in the North American Registry, ET is utilized in other registries.

14. EPDs can save money by eliminating the illusion that the environment plays in the selection process. As it turns out, the EPD method of evaluating ancestor data has been much more accurate and beneficial, as proven by the cattle industry. Part of the reason for this is that EPDs have the ability to filter out the effect that the environment such as age, husbandry, etc., plays in what we see when accessing phenotype. The cattle industry has a saying that comes up at auctions where it’s easy to be carried away in the moment… “Remember you’re not buying the barn”. When money matters, making use of accurate comparisons of different ages and location will expand your choices and help identify the best values.

Your questions, comments and discussions are welcome.

John Heise Stargazer Ranch Alpacas
Loveland, CO
970-215-1970
www.alpaca.net
john@alpaca.net

Stargazer HERD BROKE 20 MICRON AFD IN 2015!

apoc-ad-final-wsEarly on in our alpaca endeavor we had come across some simple advice about how to best succeed in a livestock breeding business. In a nutshell we were advised to collect data and use it when making breeding and purchase decisions.  In the 18 years since, we have documented yearly improvement in our clip results. The most dramatic improvement has occurred since we have implemented an EPD program in making breeding decisions,  averaging a reduction  of at least one micron per year. We also have been more directive in who and how we teat. Since crias that are under a year old would tend to skew the results to help make the whole herd look finer we do not include any data from animals  that are less than a year old. We also do not test animals that are over 10  years old. The 2015 clip results are in and our herd average has  dropped to 19.9 micron for AFD.   This tally represents all 50 male and female huacayas between 1 to 10 yr old of all colors from white to black and dark rose grey. (No Juveniles) All have top EPD’s for multiple traits. Bred for perpetual fineness, increased fleece weight and excellent confirmation.

Top 2015 breeding males

  • Stargazer’s Elijah  (Wht) @  3yr = 15.4 AFD  (Apocalypse & 6P Royal Gold/Barringer Lineage)
  • Stargazer’s Rumble (Fawn) @  3yr = 16.3 AFD ( 6P Royal Gold & Hemingway Lineage)
  • Stargazer’s Callisto (Wht) @  7yr = 18.4 AFD (Apocalypse & Accoyo Augusto Lineage)
  • Stargazer’s YO @ (Wht) 7yr = 18.4 AFD (Apocalypse & Hemingway Lineage)

Top Seedstock  Available Males & Females

  • Stargazer’s Special Edition (Appy) @ 1yr 16.4 AFD (Explorer and Apocalypse Lineages)
  • Stargazer’s Skywalker  (BG) @1 yr 15.3 AFD (Barringer and Apocalypse Lineages)
  • Stargazer’s Solar Storm (Wht) 16.7 @ 1 yr AFD  (Barringer and Accoyo Grandmaster Lineages)
  • Stargazer’s Fanny Mae  (Brn-DRG) @ 2yr 16.8 AFD (Eclipse and Accoyo Felix Lineage)
  • Stargazer’s Tahlula  (DBrn)  @ 2yr 16.4 AFD (Taurus and Multi-Accoyo Lineages)
  • Stargazer’s Chardonnay (Wht) @ yr 17.6 (Explorer & Apocalypse Lineages)

 None of this would have been possible with the phenomenal genetic contribution of Accoyo America Apocalypse whose has been ranked as the #1 herdsire producing the most dramatic change in lowering AFD and increasing Fleece Weight. Apocalypse is now co-owned with one of the most encouraging breeders we have come across in years. Apple Mountain Alpacas in Clarksville, GA. Jay and Melissa Reeder share our vision of a prosperous and production industry. Contact Jay and Melissa for breedings between November and April each year. More information can be found on their website http://www.applemountainalpacas.com

Alpaca EPD’s “Do The Math” Webinar Part 1

What Are EPDs? This webinar will provide a foundation to what EPDs are and perhaps shed some light on why they work so well for alpaca breeding stock.  I recently watch a cattle EPD presentation in which an angus breeder was able to quantify that improvement through the use of EPDs was nine times fast than other objective/subjective methods and EPDs provided a wider scope of what can be improved.

This was our first presentation of a live webinar. Looking to shorter clips of EPD highlights soon. Feel free to call or email with any questions or if you noticed any errors.

EPD’s …How Accurate is Accurate enough?

EPD's ...How Accurate is Accurate enough?

 

There’s some confusion about the term “accuracy” when it comes to EPD’s. It would make common sense that if something had a low accuracy that it would not be very reliable…correct? No, that is not how the term ” is used with EPD’s. EPD Accuracy simply describes the Trait Value prediction in greater detail. A very important concept to remember is that EPD’s are correct, or better than predicted, 85% of the time….regardless of the Accuracy. Accuracy defines a range, plus or minus the trait value that can be expected. Just like Las Vegas, EPDs don’t like to be wrong. The Accuracy Range looks more like the point spread used in sports betting. A “low accuracy” represents a wider range of acceptable outcomes. For example, according to the Table 7 of 2013 EPD Producers Report (Table 8 for suris) an accuracy of .3 (low) indicates that the result could be .82 of a micron less than or greater than the trait value predicted. In other words a relatively “Low Accuracy” prediction is just as reliable as a high accuracy prediction. The only difference is the low accuracy prediction is providing a wider range of what can be expected.

So, I think the next logical question is “How reliable are EPD predictions anyway?” As I stated above, my personal, short, unscientific, quick and simple answer is that EPD’s trait values will be as good or better than predicted at least 85% of the time. However, if you were to ask your college statistics professor he would say that EPD predictions are calculated to within 2 standard deviations (68%). The remaining 32% will result in an outcome that is better or worse than the prediction. I frequently refer to this “unknown group of 32%” as the “freaks”. There are good freaks and poor freaks. Being the optimist that I am I say that at least half of the 32% will be good freaks and feel confident with expecting 85% reliability. This is the link to the 2013 Producers Report.

Apocalypse

apoc-ad-final-ws

Apocalypse Has sired more top 100 herdsires listed in the AOA-EPD program for improving fineness and increasing fleece weight.

How does fiber diameter affect fleece weight and density?

How does fiber diameter affect fleece weight and density?

It took us a few years to catch on to the degree fiber diameter plays on fleece weight. Early on we had heard rumblings how the fleece show scoring system had become counter-productive to rewarding density but it wasn’t until I did the math did the reality hit home. It became instantly obvious that if we wanted to breed for fineness and density we had to find another way to identify leading producers.

The attached PDF document that helped us visualize the role fiber diameter plays in determining density through three of the most commonly used methods, weight, sight and feel.

The first issue is that fiber diameter is two dimensional. When dealing with diameter, dimensions take on a very different value than what most of us deal with every day. In determining the area of a round object, like fiber, a diameter of 12 is not half or 50% of 24. It is 1/4 or 25%. An area with a diameter of 18 is 1/2 or 50% the diameter of 24. So, in other words if your beautiful,  10lb, 24 micron fleece could be magically changed to 18 micron it would loose 1/2 it’s weight AND VOLUME. Also, If you were to physically examine two animals, one with a MFD of 18 and the other 24,  side by side, without the knowledge of the actual MFD, the 24 micron animal would most likely be chosen as being more dense, when actually they would be the same density. The 24 micron fleece described only has more volume and weight, not more follicles. What this demonstrates is that if  fleece weight is used without a proper relationship to fiber diameter then one would be selecting for increased fiber diameter.

An examination of the three diagrams on the bottom of the page demonstrates how misleading using volume (fills hand when grasped) or amount of visible skin when the fleece is parted can be without exact knowledge of what the fiber diameter is that you are looking at or comparing.

The chart at the top of the page shows the percentage relationships based upon diameters.

Fiber micron comparison_10_09

What Are EPD’s (Expected Progeny Difference)

Expected Progeny Difference = EPD_015EPD’s represent the breeding value of an animal based upon it’s own merit and production along with up to four generations of its pedigree and relatives merit. The EPD trait value will be within the predicted value OR better about 85% of the time. 85% are great odds for making breeding decisions!

Its easy to get EPD values mixed up or confused with histogram data. Histogram data represent visible traits of an animal at a particular point in time. EPD trait values represent how offspring will perform as compared to the entire group in the program. Regardless of age or sex. Program size is currently 27,000 and growing.