Glossary


Like practitioners in most industries, alpaca breeders have a colorful vocabulary that only they understand. If you're baffled by terms such as agisting, crias and pronking, check the following list for quick definitions.


Agist

To feed or pasture livestock for a fee, i.e., board. The person providing the feed or pasture is the agistor; the person purchasing the service (typically the owner of the animal) is the boarder.


Blanket

The prime fleece sheared from the shoulder, mid-section and rump.


Conformation

The shape of an animal resulting from the arrangement and alignment of its structural anatomy. With good conformation, an animal is able to perform daily tasks most efficiently and achieve the optimum quality of life. 


Cria

A baby alpaca.


Cud

A mass of partially digested food brought up from the stomach of ruminants for further chewing


Cush (or kush)

To sit upright on the sternum (long flat bone at the center front of the chest that connects that ribs on either side) with all four legs folded underneath the body.


Genotype

See Phenotype.


Gestation

The act or period of carrying young in the uterus from conception to birth. Alpacas have a gestation period of approximately 11-1/2 months.


Heritability

A measure of the strength of the relationship between performance (phenotypic values) and breeding values (genetic makeup) for a trait in a population. Heritability is a measure of the degree to which a trait such as fiber production or fiber diameter is genetically determined.


Parturition

The act of giving birth


Prepotent

Showing great effectiveness in conferring genetic traits or in fertilization


Phenotype

The physical traits and characteristics that give an alpaca its appearance. The phenotype is what we see and includes - but is not limited to - size, color, shape and arrangement of physical characteristics. Phenotype is determined by genes and environment, while genotype refers to the genetic make up of an individual. In other words, "genotype + environment = phenotype."


Pronk

An exuberant leap into the air in which all four legs leave the ground simultaneously. Pronkiing, also known as stotting, is common to crias and young alpacas and is associated with play and high spirits.


Proven

Demonstrated the ability to procreate. A male or female alpaca is proven if he or she has produced offspring. 


Settle

Impregnate. When a pregnancy results from a breeding, the male is said to have settled the female.


Spit-off

A behavior test in which a female that has been bred is introduced to a male. If the female rejects the male by spitting and/or running away, it can be an early indication of pregnancy.