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The Patagonia story

Getting involved with alpacas can change your life. For us it started back in 1996 when we first saw alpacas at an open day at UWS Hawkesbury where Ian was teaching at the time. It was love - or maybe even addiction - at first sight. We spent several months thoroughly investigating the market and evaluating the feasibility of alpacas as a future business and lifestyle.

In late 1996, Patagonia Alpacas was born with the purchase of three heavily pregnant black females that were placed on agistment initially near Portland and later at Meadow Flat (30km east of Bathurst). On one of our regular visits to visit the alpacas, we found a 94-hectare property for sale in Meadow Flat which we subsequently purchased. Initially Angus cattle were run on the property until the building of their house was completed in 2000. Then in April 2000 the alpacas joined the cattle. We have found that running the cattle an essential part of the operation due to their complementary grazing habit.

In 2016 we will celebrate 20 years in alpacas. Approaching this landmark makes you reflect on what you have achieved and look forward to where you will go in the next decade. The alpaca industry has matured in recent years and this provides reason and opportunity for us to address the breeding challenges we face to remain relevant in a dynamic market.

For most of the time that we have been in alpacas, Ian has been carefully studying from a distance the breeding philosophy, program and results of Snowmass Alpacas arguably one of the finest breeders of huacaya alpacas in the U.S. So it is not surprising that when considered new genetics we dreamed on being able import animals from Snowmass.

As luck would have it Snowmass held their first on-farm sale event in 2014 and we decided to take a look. The full story will be told elsewhere but the result is that we have in progress a shipment of 2 stud males, two older females their 2013 and 2014 progeny. As most of the animal are unrelated we have some fabulous breeding choices ahead of us. Our focus in this catalogue is on introducing the new stud males and providing some enterprising buyers with the opportunity to be among the early beneficiaries of these new genetics.

We strongly believe that the days of buying “genetic black boxes” has passed. In selecting stud males we were interested in records of performance over time demonstrating evidence of heritability of desired traits. Traits must be heritable if you want to make necessary progress in breeding. We have seen this in our herd over the last eight years with the high heritability of Patagonia Celtic Triumph’s key traits of exceptional lustre, match stick size bundles, very deep crimp, ultrasoft handle and high follicle density and the impact this had in/across our herd. But to be honest – our starting point was judging these beautiful males purely on phenotype and choosing which animals.

At Snowmass we were able to access performance records and pedigrees several layers deep with a who’s who of US alpaca. This from a stud – based on Peruvian seedstock - who has been selectively breeding for 3 decades to lock in genetic traits of fineness, brightness, uniformity and consistency of fleece.

But to be honest – our starting point in selecting this beautiful group of animals was based purely on phenotype letting our eyes and hand guides us to make our initial selections followed by a close study of their pedigree and performance. We look forward to sharing more details of the opportunities these superior new bloodlines will create.

 

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