Alpaca Research Articles and News
Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus in Camelids
Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab - January 2006
Remain in quarantine until retested in 3-4 weeks
What's Going on in the Show Ring?
Understanding Alpaca Halter & Performance Shows
ALSA - The Alpaca & Llama Show Association sanctions shows, certifies Judges, guides show managers and educates exhibitors. The Alpaca show format has been jointly developed since 1990 by The Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association (AOBA) and ALSA.
HALTER CLASSES - The purpose for conducting halter classes is to compare animals, judging them against soundness, conformation and fiber criteria so as to determine those who are best suited for breeding purposes. Alpacas are shown in Full Fleece and Shorn halter classes.
Judging System - The system of judging used for alpaca halter shows is a relative system as differentiated from judging to a specific breed standard.
Judging Criteria - Alpacas in Full Fleece halter classes with 3" or more fiber on their neck, blanket and legs are evaluated 50% on their conformation and 50% on the quality of their fleece. Alpacas in Shorn halter classes with less than 3" of fiber on their neck, blanket and legs are evaluated 100% on their conformation. The judging criteria is based on a list of positive and negative traits for alpacas including: type, quality, conformation, movement, soundness, fiber quality and disposition. Using these traits as the basis, the Judge compares the alpacas to each other and places them according to this comparison.
Class Divisions - There are two breeds of alpacas, the Huacaya and the Suri, differentiated by their coat type. Huacaya alpacas have a fluffy appearance with hair that grows perpendicular to the skin and often has a wavy characteristic known as crimp. Suri alpacas have a lustrous silky appearance with hair that hangs parallel to the skin in pencil lock curls that resemble dread locks. Alpacas in full fleece classes are divided by breed. Shorn alpacas are combined by breed as only conformation can be evaluated.
Alpaca Judging: Art or Science?
Alpaca Judging: Art or Science?
It is a fact that many of the exhibitors at a given alpaca show are often dissatisfied with the judge. This dissatisfaction ranges from mild displeasure to outright disbelief in the results. Show participants fully expect judges to make decisions in a scientific fashion that dictates highly predictable placings that should be obvious to everyone concerned. They believe that judging is science. I have judged 1000's of classes over the past 10 years and I would like to suggest that each decision is not necessarily scientific; there is by necessity a certain art to judging alpacas.
Judging alpacas is the process of making a comparative analysis. The first-place alpaca in any given class is the one amongst the class that most closely conforms to the ideal alpaca as defined by the breed standard and show rules. An alpaca judge must have a clear picture of this ideal in their mind. Once the first place animal is chosen, the rest of the class is ranked in order of its relative merit to the blue ribbon winner.
Alpaca judges make sophisticated evaluations in a short period of time. Placing a class starts with forming opinions as the alpacas enter the ring. First impressions are often spot on. From start to finish the judge has on average 2½ minutes per animal to observe movement, evaluate teeth, palpate testicles, assess proportion, judge fleece for fineness, character and weight, place the class, award ribbons, and give their oral reasons. A class of ten alpacas takes about twenty-five minutes to complete. I ask you to read on and decide for yourself; is judging an art, science or a bit of both?
The judge's first order of business is to sort the class by overall phenotypic quality. This involves giving a mental thumbs up (ideal), thumbs sideways (improved) or thumbs down (unimproved) to each alpaca based on first impressions. The sorting process is really no different than walking into a pasture of alpacas and immediately deciding which ones look the best, which are somewhat interesting, and those you would rather not own.