What is Exclusion DNA Testing?
Like all livestock registries, AOA validates parentage rather than verifying it. Both animal and human parentage is conducted using exclusion DNA testing. DNA testing determines that the reported dam or sire cannot be excluded from being a parent, rather than they definitely are a parent. This means that when AOA issues a registration with a particular dam and sire, the data has validated the likelihood that they are the actual dam and sire — they cannot be excluded as a possible dam or sire of the cria. When we disqualify a dam or sire, we are saying that given the data generated by the testing methods, we have sufficient genetic evidence to exclude them as the dam or sire.
Does that mean you should have no faith in your alpaca’s pedigree? Absolutely not! Based on the number and quality of the markers AOA uses in our testing method, and the number of markers we require in common between the dam, cria, and sire, our testing has accuracy of about 99.87% or higher. So, while there is an extraordinarily small chance your alpaca was qualified with the wrong dam or sire, it is highly unlikely and rarely occurs.
While livestock parentage validation does not have 100% accuracy, it is important to note that AOA has the most stringent testing requirements of any alpaca registry in the world. In fact, our requirements surpass most livestock registries of any species, and even many human parentage testing requirements used by state governments. This, combined with the number of markers we test, the research and informational content validation of our marker set, and the fact that we have the background and experience from having tested more than 200,000 alpaca DNA samples, means that we also have some of the most accurate DNA testing of any livestock registry in the world. By continuing to focus on state-of-the-art testing, AOA registrations provide the backbone for the ongoing success of the alpaca industry.