Sheila's Accoyo Exception
In Alpaca Color Genetics, I talked about finding out an alpaca’s secondary color. Then Beth asked me how to do that. You might ask why you want to know the secondary color of your animal. I’ll try to answer these questions here.
From what I understand, each alpaca has a primary and a secondary color. The primary color is the one you see, the one expressed in the alpaca’s phenotype (how they look). They also have a secondary color which is in their genes. You can’t see it.
The way to begin determining an alpaca’s secondary color is to look at his/her parents and offspring. Here’s the good news. If an alpaca either has a black cria or a black parent, black has to be that alpaca’s primary or secondary color. If the animal is black then it is his/her primary color. If the animal is not black, then black is his/her secondary color.
When the alpaca breeds, half of the time he will donate the color gene of his primary color. The other half of the time he will donate the color gene that is his secondary color. What happens then is his genes interact with the genes of the female and a color is determined for the cria. White dominance, white spotting, dark spotting, and dilution genes all play a role in this determination. The lighter color will prevail.
Black as a secondary color is easy to determine. Another easy one is silver grey. Silver grey alpacas have black as their secondary color. The black is covered with the greying allele of the white spotting gene. This is what makes them grey. They are showing this black, and black is recessive so we know they must have 2 copies of this black gene. This means their secondary color must also be black.
Rose greys are more difficult. Rose grey alpacas are brown, fawn, or beige colored animals with the greying allele of the white spotting gene. Rose greys have at least one copy of beige, fawn, or brown (depending on how dark the rose grey is). Their secondary color is unknown. We have to find it.
Today we will use Exception, pictured above right, as an example. His color is light rose grey. His sire, McGwire, is fawn with a white spotting gene (McGwire’s face is white). His dam, Sheila, is silver grey. The mystery is solved already because Sheila being a silver grey means that she carries the black gene. Since black is recessive (meaning you need two black genes to be black), she would have had nothing else to contribute to this cria but black. And since he is rose grey rather than silver, black is his secondary (hidden) color rather than his primary color.
Sheila's Accoyo Exception's ARI Certificate
Some alpacas’ secondary colors are not as easy to determine. So how do we do it? Find out what is the darkest the animal has ever produced. Find out what is the darkest animal the alpaca has ever produced when bred to black or silver grey. Alpacas who have been bred to black but their darkest offspring is brown may have brown as their secondary color.Visit the ARI website and do a search on your alpaca, his sire, his dam, and his offspring if he has them.
That will be your first step in determining how dark the alpaca’s secondary color is. A few points to remember:
- White is dominant over everything.
- Black is dominant over nothing.
- Greying is an allele on top of a solid color.
- Multis and Appaloosas have a dark spotting gene.
- All alpacas have two colors. The lighter of these colors is what they are.
Finding out the secondary color of your alpaca can be valuable information for your breeding program. Rather than just hoping for a certain color, you may be able to determine whether or not that color is a possibility from your animals.
If you would like help in determining your alpaca’s second color, send a picture of the alpaca and their ARI number and we will work these “puzzles” together here on Alpaca Farmgirl. We may not find all the answers but we will learn a lot. Send ARI# and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org