Line breeding is one of the most useful tools that a stud breeder has. Put simply it is mating genetically similar animals to consolidate desirable genetic traits.
Although we would like to think that by mating like to like we will produce clones this in fact is very unlikely because in breeding outcomes approximately 30% of the result is genetic and 70% is environmental. In reality the environmental conditions of any one particular season are going to impact on the offspring. Changes in nutrition caused by drought etc play a big part on things like follicle development, live weights, growth rates and even conformation.
Even though the environmental conditions may result in differences amongst progeny line breeding is the most effective means of reducing these variations and consolidating desirable traits. There is always the risk that undesirable genetic traits may appear, but because animals have been mated like to like means these problems can be more quickly identified and the animals can be culled from the stud breeding program.
One of the risks associated with line breeding is that too much line breeding can lead to a lack of hybrid vigour, animals can become smaller and weaker, outcrossing may be necessary to ensure the commercial viability of your stud, because commercial producers ultimately want animals that are going to be able to thrive in their environment.
It’s important when you plan your stud breeding program to determine the traits you want to focus on. We often are told that we must breed finer fibre in order to have a viable industry, but the reality is that processors will change their requirements depending on market trends. You also need to consider that not all areas of Australia are conducive to fine wool production. This equally applies to alpaca. These areas still manage to produce commercial fibre and that is sought after.
One of the problems with fine wool is it can degrade quite quickly, soil types, rainfall and weeds all impact on commercial viability so selecting animals and breeding animals for different environmental conditions is just as important as the fineness of the fleece.
For more information on line breeding you may want to read the following article http://www.stansburyalpacas.com.au/lineBreeding.htm