Duncan Pullar  – 15 March 2021

15 March 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

Very few new technologies are revolutionary in that they do not wipe away everything that went before. They tend to be rather more gentle in the way they “take over”.  Motor cars overlapped with horses for 50 years, petrol cars will overlap with electric models for 30 years, and so on.

In society there are “early adopters” and “laggards” when it comes to new technology and it is not always clear who is making the right decision in the short term or the long term.  If you look at mainstream agriculture early adopters of high input systems using fertilizer and sprays gained an early advantage but now the age of “fossil fuel” is coming to an end there is a resurgence in interest in organic practices remarkably like the ones that were abandoned.

Essentially there is no such thing as good or bad technology. It is really about the way we apply it and manage it and crucially whether it makes a difference in a positive and sustainable way.  Very often new technologies that work with existing knowledge and systems make the most sense and the take over is gradual.  Mobile phones are an example of the take over that has grown.  Early mobiles were huge, but they tapped into an existing system – the phone network – and added the freedom to roam.  Thirty years on the mobile has developed so much it means many homes do not have a land line and phoning people on a mobile is almost a minor use when you think of texting, tweeting and games!!

Good examples of technologies applied to animal breeding clearly include genetic evaluations and most recently the adoption of genomics.  These technologies are now widely used in cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry breeding. The technologies of estimated breeding values evaluation and DNA analysis have allowed more rapid and accurate assessments of breeding stock to be made which allows the animals to be bred which function best.

The introduction of Estimated Breeding Values to alpacas is an opportunity to adopt a proven technology that will make a significant difference to the breeding progress for objectively measurable traits. The BAS EBV project is now in a development stage and is open to all members if they are interested.   The EBV project will not replace any of the skills that alpaca breeders have accumulated over the years, but it will add an extra layer of information that should help alpaca breeders make better breeding decisions.

A webinar is on this week, 15 March 2021 at 7.30pm. If you want to lean more email for link ceo@bas-uk.com or get the YouTube link later