For two years running now, the Best Alpaca In Show at Sydney Royal has been from a Victorian stud, Malakai Alpaca Stud, which utilises embryotic transfer (ET).
While most people I spoke to believed Shane Carey's Malakai Firework, an ET animal, was the correct selection for the top award, it does present a possible dilemma for the future.
Will smaller studs be able to compete with the studs using ET?
The Alpaca industry is on the rise, with strong international interest in both fibre and genetics, and ET is a great way for quality to progress at a much faster rate.
Instead of waiting to see if the offspring of a certain male and female deliver the traits required, and then waiting at least another 12 months if it doesn't to try a different coupling, ET allows a stud to try a number of different matches at the same time.
And while ET does not guarantee a 'machinery line' of top quality cria, it does greatly increase the chances of consistent animal production.
While ET does not guarantee a 'machinery line' of top quality cria, it does greatly increase the chances of consistent animal production.
It also allows fertilised eggs to be implanted into females which have been proven to be good mothers, increasing survival rates.
Speaking after his Sydney Royal win, Mr Carey said Malakai already have three ET babies of Firework's ready to drop.
He ET helps Malakai produce better quality over a shorter period of time with the three of Firework's ready to be born are from three different sires.
In one year they will be able to see which works best with Firework's genetics while to do this naturally could take five to six years.
For the industry, more and more studs using ET is a positive as quality will increase at a faster rate.
However, from a show perspective, will an increase in ET exhibits push the smaller studs out of competition?
When I spoke to the convener of the Sydney Royal Show Alpaca Competition, Keryn Burns, she said it was about finding a balance.
Ms Burns said that ET is expensive and not many of the smaller breeders can afford to do it and some see it as unfair in the show ring.
To combat this, Ms Burns has implemented awards for highest point scorers for small breeders on a number of different levels in the hopes of incentivising them to continue to compete.
She is fearful of losing small studs as some of them turn into larger studs down the road.
It would be a real shame if studs like Ron Condon's Accoyo Legacy stop exhibiting at Sydney Royal because they can't compete.
Mr Condon runs Accoyo Legacy with Rochelle Veitch in Buckley, Victoria, with a small herd of under 100 alpacas.
He was one of the first importers of alpacas to Australia and has not missed a Sydney Royal competition, exhibiting at all 30 events.
The Accoyo Legacy name is known around the world, selling both fibre and stud animals domestically and internationally.
The Accoyo name stems from the stud in Peru where Mr Condon sourced his first genetics.
Mr Condon travelled to both Peru and Chile in pursuit of the best genetics, feeling privileged to have been able to attain his starting stock from some of the oldest studs in the two countries.
He believes that the prestige of a win at Sydney Royal is very important to the viability of a small stud with champion ribbons helping sell internationally.
Accoyo Legacy only exhibited 11 animals at this year's Sydney Royal Show and when you only have that number, it can be hard to compete with the bigger studs.
Mr Condon said that while he doesn't ET now, he can see the benefits if you can do it. He believes that if you don't get female babies on the ground, you can lose up to two years in your breeding program.
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