Everyone we have spoken to about this business, has given us the same advice. Buy the highest quality Dam you can and then selectively breed them to the highest quality sires you can. If this means that your budget will only allow for 1 Dam, so be it. Having one high quality dam will be a better long term investment decision vs having more lesser quality dams.
But how does one define quality? As with everything in life, we are sure there are many varying opinions. For us, we used the following criteria to help us.
Conformation: we wanted physically sound females. We wanted foundation dams that could deliver and take care of the cria without human intervention so we were interested in females with a great bone structure and stature.
Fleece: we wanted Fineness. Less than 22 AFD for the darker colors; Less than 20 AFD for the lighter colors. We searched for consistency of character and structure. Root to Tip, Nose to Tail.
Color: Our eyes always gravitate to the Dark Fawns, Light Browns, Silver Grays and Blacks. As such, colored animals were at the top of our focus and we can guarantee you that we overlooked some great alpacas in the process of selecting our foundation dams.
Heritage: Success breeds success; we wanted to leverage success alpaca lineages, but also begin to work with and learn from successful breeding programs.
Others Opinions: we looked for dams that had experienced success in the larger halter shows. The fact that certified judges felt that the animal exhibited great conformation and fleece characteristics in comparison to their peers, meant a lot to us.
Age: our initial exposure to Alpacas was in the show environment and we fell in love with it. As such, we wanted to balance our foundation dam selections with dams that had some show ring time left and with bred dams that could produce the next show classes.
Using the above criteria as a base and the knowledge we were gaining day by day, show by show, we started a slow but extremely educational process. We have acquired foundation dams that have done well in the show ring and we have acquired some great mentors and friendships through the process.
The one key element that we have come to believe is that 60% - 70% of a cria's foundational traits will come from the foundation dam, so start with the best you can. The other key element is that we are dealing with genetics. The Best bred to the Best, does not always guarantee Better or excellent, but is does increase the odds for success.
Take a look at our foundation dams. We are excited about the future cria that they will be producing and the opportunity to share those cria with all of you.