Fibre quality and fertility in male alpacas in Cusco region, Peru
Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate if there is any correlation between fibre quality and male mating behaviour (as a marker of fertility) in alpacas. The theory was that the more masculine males would have coarser fibres with a larger diameter because of higher testosterone levels. The higher testosterone could result in them be able to mate with more females than males with finer fibres, thus passing on their genes for poor fibre quality. No studies on this subject or articles discussing the relationship between mating behaviour and fibre quality in this particular species have been found in the literature. The animals used in the study were 189 adult male alpacas in the Cusco region of Peru. The animals belong to two different universities, the National University of San Marcos in Lima (UNMSM) and the National University of San Antonio Abad of Cusco (UNSAAC). The fertility data included only the animals belonging to the San Marcos University and consisted of hand-written records from the breeding season January – April 2015. The data were converted into individual quotients for each male. Fibre samples were taken from all males in September 2015. The samples were washed and analysed using the OFDA 2000 fibre quality analyser. No significant correlation between fertility quotient and any of the fibre quality parameters was observed (p-value for quotient and fibre diameter correlation = 0.9590). The alpacas’ body condition score (BCS) was graded in a parallel study, and the results were used to evaluate the correlation between BCS and fibre quality. There was no significant difference in fibre diameter between animals with different BCS (p=0.1953). It is known that young alpacas have the finest fibres, which was also the case in this study. This result was significant (p < 0.0001). Fibre samples were taken from both white (n=137) and coloured (n=57) alpacas. The white alpacas had significantly longer (p=0.0093) and thinner (p=0.0001) fibres.
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