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GIFT (Genetic Improvement Fleece Technology)

(Genetic Improvement Fleece Technology)

Background

The objective of Genetic Improvement Fleece Technology (GIFT) is to provide a scientifically proven method of screening fibre producing animals for highly heritable traits that improve fleece quality.

Based on commercial evaluations and research, the fibre traits that are most critical in terms of the commercial value are:

  • average fibre diameter (measured in microns)
  • reduced variation in diameter of fibres (expressed as standard deviation of fibre diameter)
  • reduced variation in fibre type over the fleece area

The positive coincidence for fibre producers is that these traits are also highly heritable. This fact provides an advantage that cannot be understated.

How does GIFT address these traits

Monitoring and controlling average fibre diameter

GIFT testing utilises OFDA2000 fibre measurement equipment being operated in a laboratory mode. The test reports include all standard OFDA2000 data. Of particular note are fibre diameter statistics and micron profiles that assist with interpreting the respective fibre diameter measurements within an environmental context.

Reducing fibre diameter variation (and reducing the incidence of coarse fibres)

Fibre research conducted in Australia over the last 10 years has shown genetic improvement in fibre diameter variation is enhanced by measuring the average diameter of individual fibres within a staple or fibre bundle.

Normal fibre testing methods do not differentiate between variation caused by environmental influences (variation along individual fibres) and variation influenced by genetic factors (variation between individual fibres).

Diameter of alpaca fibres vary in two ways

Variation along the fibre – influenced by external factors such as change in nutrition

Variation between the individual fibres – influenced by genetic traits

GIFT utilises research measurement technology to extract the variation between individual fibres, thereby placing increased focus on genetic factors. Furthermore, it also increases the number of measurements on any sample by about 250% (using OFDA2000 equipment). We call this our Genetic SD Test

Reducing variation over the fleece

GIFT testing involves the taking of three different samples from the same animal. The shoulder, midside and hip areas are used as they have been shown to give an excellent indication of variation over the fleece area. By testing three sites, we achieve a far broader window into the alpaca’s fleece qualities than just concentrating on the mid-side point of the fleece.

Bringing it all together

The regular OFDA laboratory test and Genetic Test are provided for all three sample sites. Furthermore, GIFT testing includes a benchmarking program in order to rank each test.

It should be noted the benchmark database is a ‘live’ program, and therefore the averages may change gradually if collated data for a respective trait increase or decrease over a period of time. The most obvious and anticipated reason for such change in averages for a particular trait would be ‘across herd’ genetic improvement.

Benefits of GIFT

GIFT is simple to use, yet incorporates leading edge technology and methods. It focuses on market drivers for fleece qualities and relies on fleece traits that are highly heritable. GIFT testing can be carried out on fibre samples with only 20mm of growth.

How can GIFT be used

GIFT has been successfully used for:

  • Selecting key breeding stock
  • Monitoring herds aimed at premium fleece production
  • Promotion of high value breeding alpacas
  • Monitoring breeding strategies that use indirect selection such as follicle traits
  • Fast tracking genetic improvement

Finding out more

You can find out more on GIFT by contacting AAFT, or asking for our GIFT DVD (handling and postage charges apply). Our GIFT pricing can be found here

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