Breeding true black alpacas with the most diverse genetics in the UK
Our passion for breeding black alpacas started in 2002. Here is a brief history and details of the breeding goals we set ourselves for how to breed black alpacas. During the last 15 years, we have achieved a lot and we will continue to produce beautiful black alpacas for many years to come. I hope you enjoy learning more about our story of breeding black alpacas using diverse bloodlines to develop the softest handling fleeces without colour contamination and low guard hair.
2016 sees Warramunga Downs Miguel of Fowberry join our super sire black line up !
2017 sees the arrival of Nevalea Geronimo from new Zealand.
We have proven elite true black herd sires with superb genetics from both Australia and North America ! WD Miguel of Fowberry; a Samaria Valley Saladin son from Australia and MFI Kapow of Chalford; an MFI Peruvian Black Mesquite son from Magical Farms in North America. Nevalea Geronimo brings a whole host of black genetics including Canchones Gendarme, Canchones Kenzoki and Bonnie Park Wizard…
When we were looking for our first breeding alpacas in 2001, we wanted to have different colours but one alpaca had to be black. They all had to be solid in colour with no colour contamination. It actually proved quite difficult to find them but I decided on a black, a mid brown and a white to get my herd started. At that time, I had no idea what colour cria would be produced. ‘Ebony’ as she was to be called was a Chilean import so we had no idea what colour her parents were. At that time in Chile, there was no selective breeding for colour and alpacas were also breeding with llamas. In the UK, the only good quality sires available at that time, were white.
Our small herd multiplied before they were delivered. Ebony produced a dark grey from a white male, which actually made perfect sense to us. We did get a non fading, true black as well – a female born to a mid brown dam and a white sire! How did that happen? That was the moment my passion for black became an obsession.
Attending the Bath and West Show in 2003, our little black weanling Jemima, was the only black animal out of approximately 100 animals. We brought our first rosette home that day too! Looking at the other alpacas at the show and seeing there were no other black animals, we realised we were starting from scratch, selectively breeding for colour, conformation and quality fleece.
At 19, Ebony still had a very fine fleece of 20 microns, it was still very black with not much greying and she produced 10 cria for us with absolute ease. However, she has always had very little fleece, poor bone density and looks a little like a llama. Retired years ago, she was not shorn, wore a coat in winter to keep her warm and is still very much loved despite her passing in October 2016.
How to Breed Quality Black Alpacas
When we looked objectively at what we had and where we needed to get to some clear goals were defined.
Fit for Purpose
One of my favourite phrases! Our black alpacas had to have correct conformation in order to be able to produce lots of quality fine fibre. Naturally, we also needed healthy, robust animals with good temperaments.
Fix the Colour Black
We wanted to fix the colour by breeding black females to black sires. We used two influential black sires, one imported from Peru and one from Australia and ‘blanket bred’ them across all our black females. As well as for their colour, these boys were selected for their density of bone and fine fleece characteristics. Black cria were born and since then we have continued to apply top quality true black, non fading males across our herd. We have been very fortunate in fixing the colour trait early in our breeding program. We have produced only 1 cria who was not black from those breedings. He is our harlequin grey Chalford Cappuchino who needs another page to start to explain how he came about. The only way we could produce fawn in our herd from our black girls is by using a fawn male.
We selected males with good density of bone and correct conformation. We wanted to see healthy, beautiful alpacas in our fields produced from animals with high density of bone, correct bites, true to type ‘pretty’ heads with clean faces along with strong correct limbs and top lines on a balanced frame. Experience means we can select very carefully the males that are going to improve our herd. We will always select an animal with good conformation over an animal with poor conformation and a stunning fleece – every time. We have very few animals in our herd who need their incisor teeth trimmed and people find this surprising !
Using the males we had and new males selected with the above criteria, the next goal was to improve the fleece of the animals we were producing. Again, selecting males who had excellent fleeces (for blacks) was important.
Ebony has no fleece to speak of but did produce more dense, fine fleeces in her offspring when bred to a white of fawn male. She needed the selectively bred males to make a real improvement. Some of our early females carried coarse fleece although it was quite abundant. Fleeces tended not to be bright and carried little crimp or very broad crimp.
The next black herd sire we put across the herd was Grand River Holyfield. Offering unique genetics to the UK, Holyfield had a very heavy frame with heavy substance of bone and a high amplitude crimp which was bright with good density. He has consistently produced cria with bright, dense, soft handling fleeces of good weight and staple length. He was stunning to look at and has the biggest feet we have seen on an alpaca! We retain some of his daughters in our herd today.
Our next true black herdsire is MFI Kapow, a son from the elite MFI Peruvian Black Mesquite from Magical Farms in the US. I travelled over twice to select this male and he is everything we could want. He has a unique genotype, beautiful phenotype and makes just fabulous cria. He is capable of producing ‘Silky style’ alpacas and we will will watch the 2 ‘silky’s’ he produced in 2015 with great interest. 2016 saw the delivery of strong well built true black cria with extreme fleece density and minimal primary fibres. In 2017 Kapow continues to produce consistent progeny who have very bright, heavy, soft handling fleeces in true black and occasionally fawn. Chalford Kole produced a junior fleece who was selected as Judges Choice over all other colours for its brightness, handle and colour uniformity – a first for black fleeces in the UK and just what we want!
Warramunga Downs Miguel of Fowberry
We could not believe it when we had the chance to purchase Miguel. I have loved this male from afar for the last 8 years! A fabulous male with one of the finest true black fleeces… full stop. Black, bright, crimpy and dense the fleece on this male is extremely impressive. His temperament is absolutely dreamy.. Sired from the infamous Samaria Valley Saladin, Miguel arrived in May 2016 and will be used over our girls along with Kapow for a good while yet. Again, Miguel’s genetics are not widely available, although he has produced Champion progeny in the UK.
We started with a llama lookalike in 2002 and in 2008 took the Small Breeder Prize at the Futurity Alpaca Show. We took three black alpacas, who were all awarded 1st place by judges Mike Safley (USA) and Paul Cullen (UK). Chalford Petra went on to be awarded Black Female Champion the following day. It was a weekend we will never forget and it shows just what you can achieve in a relatively short space of time.
If you are interested in breeding blacks then we would love to hear from you. My advice; use males over your females that best represent what you are trying to achieve and keep doing it. Choose males with several generations of black behind them if you wish to fix colour. If you wish to breed true black, then avoid using bay black animals. It will take some time but consistency is the key. We have some catching up to do behind the whites and fawns. Wishing you the best of luck – Helen
3 True Black Males – BAS Screened, DNA tested, Proven to deliver
We have recently added a third true black proven male to our line up. Purchased in New Zealand, this Champion Black male adds a real genetic kick to our herd and for the UK. Details on our herd sire pages.