Publications and Research

Colour Dilution Project

Prepared by Kylie Munyard & Naomi Gray

AAA has kindly granted us with funding to research the genetic cause for different in pigment intensity in alpacas. With the funding provided by AAA we aimed to do a combination of whole genome sequencing and objective colour measurements to try to find the cause(s) of different intensity in alpaca colour.

AAA colour dilution project update October 2022

Alpaca Carbon Footprint

A cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessment was conducted following international standards (ISO 14040, 2006) to estimate
sources of greenhouse gas emissions of an extensive alpaca production system in the Peruvian Andes with a focus on carbon
footprint. The assessment encompasses all supply chain processes involved with the production of alpaca fibre and meat.



An Introduction to Base Coat Color Genotyping

By Lynn Edens of Snowmass Alpacas

TAAJ-July22-black base coat

What makes a champion?

AAA Membership brochure

Assessing colostral and serum immunoglobulin g in alpacas using brix refractometry and total serum protein

Amber O’Neill, recipient of the 2020 AAA Richard Dixon scholarship has presented her paper on ASSESSING COLOSTRAL AND SERUM IMMUNOGLOBULIN G IN ALPACAS USING BRIX REFRACTOMETRY AND TOTAL SERUM PROTEIN for the information of AAA members.

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Studies on Gastrointestinal nematodes ("worms") of alpacas

Jane Vaughan, Mohammed Rashid and Abdul Jabbar

September 2018

Alpacas are increasingly popular as a commercial livestock species due to their soft, light and fine fibre, lean meat and hides as well as their ability to adapt to diverse climatic conditions across Australia. The health and productivity of alpacas can be compromised by gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs), resulting in substantial economic losses. Although Australia has the largest alpaca population outside South America, very limited information is available on the GINs of Australian alpacas.

The present project aimed to (i) assess the worm control practices used by Australian alpaca farmers, (ii) determine the prevalence of GINs of alpacas in various climatic zones in Australia and (iii) undertake field efficacy studies to determine the status of anthelmintic resistance in GINs of alpacas. The novel information generated in the project aims to help Australian alpaca farmers and veterinarians in controlling GINs of alpacas.

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Properties, Processing and Performance of Rare and Natural Fibres: A review and interpretation of existing research results

This report is about the scientific and technical information available on the quality, testing, processing and performance of rare natural animal fibres. It summarises results of Australian investment on these topics, and makes recommendations about future investment.
The report is aimed at fibre producers, fibre processors, industry organisations, investment decision makers, students and researchers

RIRDC Publication No 11/150

October 2012

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Inheritance of White Colour in Alpacas: Identifying the genes involved

This RIRDC report describes the research conducted as part of the alpaca colour genetics project  to identify the genes involved in the inheritance of white colour in alpacas.  Three approaches were used (Mendelian, physical and genetic) in an attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding colour inheritance in alpacas.
This project has successfully identified key mutations in genes that lead to differences in fibre colour in alpacas.  Other genes, which play a role in colour variation in other species, were cleared of involvement in colour variation in alpacas.  Through extensive observational analysis a model for Mendelian inheritance of the major colours was developed.  In combination, these findings provide breeders with information that allows them to make informed colour breeding choices.

Kylie Munyard 2011

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Improving Production Efficiency, Quality and Value-adding of Rare Natural Animal Fibres

19 Dec 2011

Bruce McGregor

This is a technical report on the production, quality, processing and performance of rare natural animal fibres. It summarises results of Australian investment on these subjects and makes recommendations about future investment. This is important as there is limited scientific understanding of how to improve productivity, quality and financial returns for these industries in Australia.

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Alpaca fleece length attributes for processing and the relationship with assessment in the show ring


Dr Bruce McGregor

There is currently debate amongst alpaca breeders, particularly those actively involved in showing, and especially for those who exhibit Suris, regarding the relationship between show
ring rules and commercial processing requirements for fibre length.

Alpaca Fleece Length Attributes for Processing

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Quantitative Genetic Analysis of Micron Blowout in Alpacas


Kylie Munyard , Johan Greeff

Some alpacas maintain fine fibre throughout life, while others suffer from significant coarsening of fibre as they age, a trait known as micron blowout. Micron blowout results in reduced productivity, through reduced yield of high quality fibre over the life of an animal.
Data from a well-established alpaca herd in Peru was used in a complex quantitative genetics analysis to determine if genetics plus environment, or environment alone was responsible for micron blowout in alpacas. This project has shown that micron blowout has a moderate heritability in alpacas, and that selection against micron blowout would be successful in reducing the extent of the problem.

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Advancing Artificial Insemination in Camelids, Particularly Alpacas

Claire M Kershaw-Young, W.M. Chis Maxwell


Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) such as semen cryopreservation, artificial insemination and embryo transfer can have significant economic impacts on livestock industries. These technologies enhance the production of improved offspring via the introduction of superior genotypes, maximise the use of genetically superior males and control contagious diseases within flocks.
In camelids, which include alpacas, llamas, vicunas, guanacos, bactrian and dromedary camels, the development of ARTs has been hindered by the unique reproductive physiology of this species.
The findings of this research project are aimed at camelid breeders, researchers including reproductive physiologists and camelid scientists, artificial breeding centres and veterinarians.

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Castration methods and welfare of alpacas

D. Blache, S.K. Maloney


In the animal industry, castration is a valuable management tool, but it can be a source of concern from an animal welfare perspective. The existing standards for castration that have been developed for other livestock species, even the new standards, cannot be applied to alpacas because of the specific morphological and developmental characteristics of the alpaca. The best method to castrate alpacas is still being debated amongst animal protection groups, producers, animal scientists, and veterinarians. Each group has opinions about which method(s) could address their specific concerns, but a consensus is yet to be found.

The present project aimed to validate a standard method of castration for alpacas that could be recommended to either veterinarians or alpaca producers, and would be acceptable in welfare terms.

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Improving Knowledge, Fibre and Textile Quality, and Communications

B.A. McGregor


This is a technical report summarising activities to improve the knowledge about rare natural animal fibres in Australia, including aspects of their production, fibre quality, and textiles made from these fibres. It summarises results of Australian investment on these subjects, and makes recommendations about future investment. This is important, as there is limited scientific understanding of how to improve productivity, quality and financial returns from these industries in Australia

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Improved tenderness of alpaca carcases using combined processing techniques

Tamara Biffin, Dr Melanie Smith, Dr Russell Bush, Dr David Hopkins


Rapid growth within the Australian alpaca industry has increased interest in alpaca meat as a viable alternative to traditional fibre production. This has driven research into alpaca meat eating quality as a means to deliver a consistently high quality product to market. Recent studies have focused on post slaughter components such as carcase and muscle composition, salable meat yield, suitable processing techniques and product ageing. Such research has been fundamental in establishing a framework for the development of a competitive alpaca meat market.

This research was conducted to address the knowledge gaps in the areas of seasonality, transport and lairage stress and combined processing treatment effects on alpaca meat quality to maximise quality and efficiency throughout the alpaca meat supply chain.

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Suri Fleece Length for Showing

The recent survey of suri owners conducted by the Board and SJC, in regard to fleece length for showing. The survey was conducted by AnnMarie Ashton Wyatt, who carried out the analysis on a pro-bono basis. The contribution of AnnMarie is greatly appreciated. the full survey report can be accessed below:

Suri Fleece Length for Showing Survey Report

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Code of Welfare for Alpacas and Llamas


Australian Alpaca Veterinarians

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep and Cattle were endorsed by the
Commonwealth of Australia in January 2016. The aim was to establish fundamental obligations relating to
the care of sheep and cattle in Australia. Concurrently, the Australian Alpaca Veterinarians, a Special
Interest Group of the Australian Veterinary Association, has compiled a code of welfare for alpacas and
llamas in Australia to set out in detail minimum standards and recommendations relating to all aspects of the
care of camelids.
The basic premise of the document is to ensure that alpaca and llama owners and managers maximise
welfare of camelids in their care by meeting the following criteria:
(a) Provision of food and water of suitable quality and quantity to sustain physiological needs, good
health and vitality;
(b) Allowing camelids to display normal behaviours including social contact with other camelids, grazing,
grooming (dust baths), and the freedom to move about if confined in yards;
(c) Protection from predation;
(d) Protection from disease, including disease that can be exacerbated by management;
(e) Protection from extremes of climate, natural disasters and atmospheric contaminants;
(f) Protection from pain, suffering and injury;
(g) Provision of handling facilities which under normal usage do not cause injury and which minimise
stress to camelids;
(h) Placing sound welfare practices ahead of financial gain;
(i) A willingness to seek assistance from skilled and competent people such as veterinarians to meet
the above criteria.
Turning a blind eye to a poor welfare situation and failing to provide care and/or humane euthanasia in an
attempt to attain another fleece at the next shearing, or another cria from a pregnant female is not
acceptable practice.



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Feeding Alpacas to Enhance Reproduction and Fleece Quality

D. Blache, J. Vaughan, S.K. Maloney, J.T.B. Milton


The quality and quantity of alpaca fibre is affected by not only the body condition and nutrition of the animal but also by season and sex hormones. These factors can interact with the genetic potential of each animal to such an extent that they can mask the true genetic value of an animal.
This RIRDC report provides scientific data that can be used by producers, consultants to the industry, and feed manufacturers to design more appropriate diets and feeding strategies that will allow the industry to make genetic progress because these management procedures will decrease the impact of nutritional and environmental factors on the expression of the animal’s genetic potential for fibre production.

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Australian alpaca fibre: improving productivity and marketing - a report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Hack, W, McGregor, Bruce, Ponzoni, R, Judson, G, Carmichael, I and Hubbard, D 1999, Australian alpaca fibre: improving productivity and marketing – a report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC,


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The Peruvian alpaca industry

A study tour report for RIRDC 1994

RIRDC Report 94/8

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Improving the efficiency of reproduction and breeding in alpacas

A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
by Jane Vaughan
July 2002
RIRDC Publication No 02/097

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Investigation of male and female infertility in llamas and alpacas

Ahmed Tibary A B E , Alexis Campbell A , Jacobo S. Rodriguez A C , Agustin J. Ruiz D , Cristian Patino A and Michela Ciccarelli A

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 33(2) 20-30

Published: 8 January 2021


Llamas and alpacas are important production animals in South America, with increasing interest in other parts of the world. Poor reproductive efficiency combined with several unique anatomical and physiological reproductive features offer challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility in camelids. This review presents an approach to the clinical investigation and common causes of infertility and subfertility in the male and female. The selection of males for breeding should be made based on complete evaluation to eliminate congenital and possibly hereditary disorders. Common disorders of the male reproductive system include testicular hypoplasia, testicular and epididymal cysts and testicular degeneration. Semen evaluation presents some challenges owing to the viscous nature of the ejaculate in these species. Females should be screened for congenital genital defects before breeding. Causes of subfertility in the female are dominated by ovarian and uterine disorders. A systematic clinical approach and the use of endometrial biopsy and advanced techniques, such as laparoscopy, allow early identification of these disorders. Further research is needed for continued understanding of the reproductive pathological processes in these species.


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