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S.H.I.P. incorporates a variety of tools for Suri owners to utilize the pedigree, phenotype and fiber records for preserving and advancing the Suri industry while adding value to individual Suris within herds. This page is a summary of some of the questions and answers most frequently asked for education and understanding of S.H.I.P. 

What is the primary goal of S.H.I.P.?

The primary goal of S.H.I.P. is to provide tools for herd improvement and management of Suri phenotype and fiber qualities for Suri Network members.

Through SHIP, each animal in your herd is classified through qualitative evaluation of eight fleece traits and eight conformation traits. These traits tie back to the Suri Breed Standard.  This evaluation helps you identify management and breeding decisions that will move your program forward.  The SHIP database also assists you in locating other animals that would be good matches for breeding purposes or for purchase.

What exactly happens during a S.H.I.P. classification?

The classifier will assess and evaluate each of the eight conformational and eight fleece traits and share their assessment with you through ongoing dialog.  You will have the opportunity to ask questions throughout, which ensures that you understand the both the traits and the scores for that your animals received for those traits.  

Each trait will numerically scored by the classifier on a 1 – 5 scale, with five being the highest and 1 being the lowest.  After the classification is completed the classifier will enter the scores into the SHIP database.  You will be able to view the score there, and also compare your animal scores to your herd average and to the national herd average.

Which animals in my herd should be classified?

We recommend that each animal in your herd over the age of one year be classified. 

When is the best time of the year to schedule a classification?

Animals must have at least three inches of fleece to be classified. Therefore, anytime between when they have three inches of fleece and the next shearing are great times to have your classification.

It is possible to schedule a classification for animals who are freshly shorn and do not have three inches of fleece.  In that case, the shorn fleece must be available for fleece assessment and the animal available for conformation assessment.  The amount of time needed will be greater than if the fleece is still on the animal.

How much time does it take to complete a classification?

Generally, certified classifiers will average 7-10 minutes per alpaca.  The maximum number of alpacas that can be classified is 50 per day. 

If your animals have already been sheared for the year and do not have at least three inches of fleece growth on their bodies, you will need to have noodled fleeces available for assessment. This will add time to the process.

How often should my herd be classified?

The Suri Network encourages classification every few years, so that you can assess how your animals are maintaining both fleece and conformation over time.

Fiber traits and to a lesser extent, conformation traits, may change over time and reclassification is a good way to see which Suris are maintaining desirable scores and which are not.

What about new Suris on my farm? 

Having your herd classified every few years also gives you the opportunity to include those alpacas who were not yet one year old at the time of the last classification, as well as animals that you have purchased since then.  

How do expenses work?

1.     Upon submission of an application to the Suri Network, you will be invoiced a $75 administration fee. This supports the Suri Network’s database administration.

2.     The classification fee is $500 per day for an up to 50 alpacas, payable to the classifier at the time the classification.

3.     The breeder(s) involved will pay all travel, lodging and meal costs for the classifier. For more information, see the S.H.I.P. Classification Expense Guidelines document.

What should I plan to provide during the classification?

You will need a covered facility where the classifications can be conducted. 

There should be room for walking an animal out as if in the show ring, so that the classifier can assess conformational traits.

You will need handlers to round up the animals and have them ready to be classified individually, and who can manage the animals during the classification. 

How can I reduce my expenses to have a classification done?

1.     We encourage you to find other Suri farms in your area and coordinate so that the classifier can classify several farms during one trip.

2.     Select a classifier that can travel to your farm economically. For example, is the distance to your farm/ranch such that the classifier can drive rather than fly?

3.     House and feed the classifier at your home.

4.     Read the document S.H.I.P. Preparation Guidelines to provide an efficient environment for the process.

How do I schedule a SHIP classification?

1.     The breeder should review the Application and Preparation Guidelines

2.     After reviewing the above pages, call the Suri Network Office (970-586-5876) to discuss a preliminary review of the process.

What other tools are available for Suri Breeders to help improve their herds?

  1. Fiber testing 
  2. Skin biopsies to test follicle density
  3. Halter and Fleece Shows
  4. AOA EPDs

Why should I have fiber testing done?

  1. Laboratory fiber test data is an objective measurement with exact values.

  2. Classification provides subjective values for 16 traits as viewed by classifiers. Classifiers will continue to work together for consistency in evaluating those traits.

  3. The compilation of both data sets, fiber tests and classification data, plus the ability of owners to add additional herd data in the future, will provide a more complete picture of the North American Suri population.

How does classification differ from placing in the show ring?
  1. Classification is an evaluation against the IDEAL based on the Suri Breed Standard.

  2. Show ring judging is comparative only among those in that class on that specific day.

  3. Show ring exhibition provides a subjective opinion and farm name exposure for a few individual alpacas, but is not inclusive of the entire herd.

  4. Classification allows the breeder to categorize alpacas by their most valued use for future production of offspring and fiber.

  5. Classification reports and provide owners with actual breeding tools for herd improvement.

AOA conflict of interest rules relative to  S.H.I.P. classification

(Part II. Chapter 6. Rules Relating to Exhibitors and Handlers)

1.      Once payment for a SHIP classification has been made, the farm owner and immediate family members cannot personally show alpacas in the ring being judged by the SHIP classifier for nine months.  However, any alpacas not included in the classification (juveniles under one year of age) are eligible to be entered in front of the classifier if shown by an appointed handler.

2.      The nine month prohibition refers to halter and walking fleece classes.

3.      The nine month prohibition does not include entries into fleece shows being judged by the SHIP classifier as long as the classification was done on the full fleece alpacas.  Any shorn fleeces included in a classification would be prohibited from being judged in a fleece show judged by the classifier.

4.      Clarification of the conflict of interest rules will occur between the classifier and farm owner during the initial communication to schedule the classification event.

Read the the 2021 AOA Show System Handbook here. 

Suri Network
Phone: (970) 586-5876
Fax: (970) 591-0007

P.O. Box 1984

Estes Park, Colorado

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Suri Network

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