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Suri Network Suri Breed Standard-2016

Suri Breed Standard Revision July 2016

The Suri Network established the first alpaca breed standard in North America ten years ago. This groundbreaking effort was tirelessly led by Suri Network member Dick Walker, with assistance and support from many other Suri Network members.  A process allowing for Suri Network member input was followed by a membership vote, which approved the very first Suri Breed Standard in 2006.


Most livestock breed standards are revised periodically. In early 2016 a committee was formed to review and update the Suri Breed Standard. The Board President appointed Tim Sheets and Linda Kondris as co-chairs, who then recruited members Karl Heinrich; Gail Campbell, DVM; Amanda VandenBosch; and Cheryl Gehly. Randy Coleman, Board member, served as liaison between the Board and the committee.  This committee provided perspective from alpaca judges, fleece experts, long-time alpaca breeders, fiber processer, and an alpaca owner/veterinarian.

Breed Standard Review Committee:

Tim Sheets, Co-Chair

Linda Kondris, Co-Chair

Gail Campbell, DVM

Amanda VandenBosch

Karl Heinrich

Cheryl Gehly

Patty Hasselbring

Randy Coleman and Deb Christner, Board of Trustees Liaisons


Coincidentally, the Alpaca Owners Association (AOA) has identified development of a breed standard as an activity to take place this year. Two of the members of the Suri Network review committee are also involved in AOA’s development of the huacaya breed standard and will use the standard developed by the Suri Network for Suris as a model for the huacaya breed standard. 


The Suri Network News Brief in January 2016 shared the status and plans for revision, as well as the members of the committee.


The Committee went to work. They researched and reviewed the breed standards that are used by other livestock industries as well as the Australasian Alpaca Breed Standard. Other breed standards reviewed are listed here. The committee also identified formatting that they found beneficial.


Jacobs Sheep:  http://www.jsba.org/standard.htm

South Africa Hereford:  http://www.hereford.co.za/breeding-standards/

Midline Angus (note maternal and temperament traits): http://midlineangus.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=131

Dexter Cattle:  http://www.dextercattle.co.uk/breed-info/breed-standard/

Highland Cattle:  http://www.highlandcattlesociety.com/highland-breed/standards.aspx

Shetland Sheep:  http://www.shetland-sheep.org/about-shetlands/breed-standard/

Charollaiss Sheep:  http://www.charollaissheep.com/the-breed/breed-standard/

Leicester Sheep:  http://www.leicesterlongwool.org/breed-standard/

Merino Sheep:  http://merinos.com.au/genetics/the-merino

Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association: http://www.aaba.com.au/assets/Uploads/documents/AABAAlpacaBreedStandards.pdf

The committee used various industry resources, including: The Art and Science of Alpaca Judging, published by the AOBA (now AOA); discussion with Cameron Holt; the Suri Network SHIP program classification categories, and of course, the original Suri Breed Standard.  


Following completion of the draft revision, the committee submitted it to the Suri Network Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees reviewed the draft and approved it for dissemination and comment to the membership. 


At that time the following strategies for public comment were instituted:

1.              A page was developed on the Suri Network website, with copies of the original breed standard and the proposed revisions, plus an online forum for discussion about the proposed revisions.
2.              A letter was sent to all Suri Network members with a link to the revised Breed Standard and an invitation to review and comment.
3.              The proposed revisions were posted on the Suri Network Members’ Facebook group.
4.              An email was sent to all members of the Alpaca Owners Association, with a link to the proposed revisions and an invitation to comment.

The comment period was open for 30 days, allowing time for members to read and respond to the proposed revised breed standard.


The Suri Network received a number of comments, both through the online forum and by email, about the proposed standards. Those comments were reviewed and discussed at length by the committee.


Here are the areas addressed in member feedback that have been reviewed again by the committee:


Formatting, with headings of Ideal, Improved, and Unimproved. Member reaction to the format using three columns, and the headings used, was both positive and critical. After discussion, the committee decided to retain the format. The format is similar to that used by the Jacob Sheep Breed Standard and is easy to read. 


The three columns give more depth to the standard than simply the “positive” and “negative” of the original standard. Because the headings for the columns seemed confusing to readers, the committee decided, after much discussion, to re-label the three categories: Ideal Traits, Acceptable but Less Desirable Traits, and Unacceptable/Undesirable Traits.


Graphic depictions: Several comments related to missing the graphic illustrations that were found in the original Suri Breed Standard. The committee recognizes the value that many find in graphics, and will link to graphics and other resources on the Suri Network website as supplements to the standard.

Temperament: A comment was received concerning temperament, and the committee referred to the Midline Angus Association’s breed standard, which includes “docile temperament” for the following reasons: 1) Calm, good nature is important to part-time producers, 2) Easy handling save time and money.  These factors are also true for alpacas, and are consistent with industry marketing efforts.

Lock: There is no lock style that is preferred, and the committee reviewed the section on “lock” in detail. Language was adjusted to ensure that there is no implication that any type of lock is preferred over others, but that uniformity of lock throughout the entire fleece is important.


Luster: Language was adjusted so that luster does not appear to be the “primary” important characteristic of Suri fiber, but that it continues to be recognized as one of the important factors that makes Suri fiber, Suri.


Fineness: Several commenters suggested including metrics relating to fineness. Following extensive discussion, the Committee arrived at what they believe is the best option for a resource concerning desirable fineness would be reference to the Suri Herd Improvement Program (SHIP), which delineates fineness and even breaks down and scores fineness by age. It was noted by the committee that the SHIP scoring ranges for AFD can be changed much more easily as industry changes, while the Breed Standard requires a vote of the membership for change.


Overall:  The committee appreciates the feedback from Suri Network members as well as others, and 

believes that the analysis provided by other readers adds to the value of the final proposed document.

Here you will find the July 2016 Suri Breed Standard Revision, which will be discussed at the 2016 Suri Symposium and Fleece Show in August prior to a vote by the membership. The original Suri Breed Standard is provided for reference.

The Suri Breed Standard has been developed and copyrighted by the Suri Network. The Suri Network retains its copyright on the Suri Breed Standard (both original and revised), and all rights to ownership of the document. Any use of the Suri Breed Standard must retain notice of copyright and reference to it must include credit to the Suri Network.

2006 Breed Standard


  Suri Network
P.O. Box 1984
Estes Park, Colorado   80517
Phone: (970) 586-5876
Fax: (970) 591-0007

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