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  Alpacas: Synthesis of a Miracle  

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About the Book
  For thousands of years, the alpaca, a New World camel related to the vicuña, has grazed quietly in the high altitude of the Peruvian Andes. However, since Peru created the Council of National Camelids of South America (CONACS), and it became legal to export alpacas to other nations, the animals renowned for producing the “fiber grown closest to heaven,” have begun grazing world-wide, in North America, Australia, Europe.

For many alpaca owners, breeding can be a hit or miss affair. Serious breeders have had to search out breeding information from texts written for sheep, cattle, or horse breeders. In Alpacas: Synthesis of a Miracle, Mike Safley has distilled 15 years of personal experience breeding alpacas, documented information gleaned from dozens of trips to Peru and conversations with Peruvian breeders and textile manufacturers, and gathered together for the first time all the information alpaca owners need to breed their animals for specific traits and to improve the quality of their animals.

In this comprehensive text, Safley covers the history of alpacas and the production of fiber from the time of their domestication by the Incas through the use of modern genetic theory by Peruvian, North American, and Australian breeders. He discusses the role the show ring plays in the selection of animals now, and how breeders can use genetics and selection to scientifically raise the quality of their herds. Past-president of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association and the Alpaca Registry, Inc., Safley proposes breeding standards that will lead to an improvement in both suris and huacayas. He does not shy away from controversial subjects such as the crossbreeding of suris and huacayas, and the use of inbreeding to fix desirable characteristics and eliminate possible genetic defects.

Woven throughout the text is the human story of the alpaca in the biographies of Julio Barreda, one of the world's most highly regarded alpaca breeders, and Frank Webster Michell, innovative textile producer, both of whom contributed to the modern market for alpaca fiber. Safley traces Barreda's life from his introduction to alpacas at six yearsof age, through the years of governmental reform and bloody terrorism, to his determined and systematic improvement of his herd. Michell, an Englishman, came to Peru looking for chinchilla, and stayed to create a fully integrated alpaca textile producing industry that keeps the income from this lovely fiber in Peru. Drawn from days of personal interviews, family documents and old herd records, Safley's insight is of inestimable value to those interested in alpaca.

Alpacas: Synthesis of a Miracle is compelling reading for anyone who owns or breeds alpacas, or anyone merely interested in the history of these enchanting animals whose high-quality fiber was once worn only by the Sun Kings who ruled the Inca.

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