Book Review – Alpacas – Synthesis of a Miracle by Mike Safley

With so little literature exclusively on alpacas and particularly the theory behind alpaca breeding, this book is a hugely important addition to the library of every alpaca breeder.

Alpacas Buying Guide
The author Mike Safley is a native of Oregon, U.S.A and purchased his first five alpacas with his father Ken Safley, in 1984. Past president of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association and the Alpaca Registry Inc., Mike is also an accredited alpaca judge, having judged alpacas in the United States, Peru, Australia, Canada and England.

In this extensively researched text, Mike Safley’s twenty years of personal experience of breeding alpacas is interwoven with the history of the alpaca as told in the biographies of Don Julio Barreda, one of the world’s most highly regarded alpaca breeders. Barreda’s life is traced from his introduction to alpacas at six years of age, through the difficult times of land reform and bloody terrorism, to his determined and systematic improvement of the world famous Accoyo herd. Don Julio Barreda spent sixty years of his life breeding alpacas and what he achieved is truly remarkable, due to his perseverance and his attention to detail. He was a very analytical person, an engineer by training and so keen to measure and record data for the alpaca traits that he believed were important.

Peruvian Mother with baby

In the past, serious alpaca breeders had to search out breeding information written for sheep, cattle or horse breeders. This comprehensive text covers the current use of modern genetic theory by Peruvian, North American and Australian alpaca breeders. Mike discusses the role that the show ring plays in the selection of animals, for better or for worse, and how breeders can use modern genetic selection theory to scientifically improve the quality of their entire herd. Of interest to many will be Safley’s proposed breeding standards and also his willingness to discuss controversial subjects such as the crossbreeding of suris and huacayas and the use of inbreeding.

Much fun can be had with the several dozen pages of Colour Tables, indicating possible colour outcomes of cria, from sire and dam colours. As we know the race to crack the genetic colour coding of alpacas is still running, however it is interesting to have a pointer as to which, of twenty-two colours your cria may be.

Don Julio Barreda

Mike Safley can be contacted at:

Northwest Alpacas,
11785 SW River Road,
Hillsboro, OREGON,
97123, U.S.A.