John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Like to Different

Like to Different breeding occurs when an owner attempts to improve an individual animal by mating it with an animal possessing strong traits that it lacks.  For instance, a light fleece dam might be mated to a sire with a very dense fleece.

The Like to Different breeding strategy often has some degree of success, sometimes even striking success.

It also can result in dismal failures. The offspring can just as likely show the worst of both parents as the best of either.

The Like to Different breeding strategy may be the best course of action when the quality of the initial breeding stock is poor.  It is, after all, not difficult to improve poor quality.

The problem with Like to Different breeding is the loss of homozygosity.  While the offspring might show a great improvement of its parent, we know that those old, poor quality genes are still lurking in the genotype.  Worse, we don't know when those genes might express themselves in later generations!

As we look across the alpaca breeding landscape, Like to Different appears to be the most common breeding strategy practiced.  Many owners seek out high priced, ribbon winning sires possessing the traits that they think will improve their dams.  In most cases the owners are making specific pairings for each dam in their herd, using a variety of different sires.

The result is the genetic base in their herd loses more and more of its consistency with each pairing. Individual animals may show improvement, and the occassional superior phenotype may emerge, but the ability to pursue an organized herd improvement plan becomes more and more remote with each pairing. In the end, Like to Different breeding will prove itself to be a failed strategy.  The short term gains will deteriorate into average or worse as the breeder ends up finding genetic mean of their foundation stock.
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"He smoked several pounds of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of things worth knowing; but he would never accept any gifts, not even when the cold weather came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the poor thin alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and said that I had insulted him, and that he was not going into hospital. He had lived like a beast and he would die rationally, like a man..."

Rudyard Kipling
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