Alpaca Magazine Herdsire Article

Worship at the Altar of Accoyo


By: Maggie DiUlio (

      Casa de Arboles Fine Fiber Farm


Many alpaca breeders would argue that the culmination of 6,000 years of alpaca development occurred at the Accoyo Estancia of Don Julio Barreda (1919-2006), in the Macusani region of Peru.  The modern alpaca was derived from the wild vicuna herds of South America and is therefore native to the Altiplano (Spanish meaning “High Plains”),  the widest point of the Andes mountains, at the junction of Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.  Tom Hunt, owner of Camelids of Deleware and an early importer of alpacas to the U.S., is quoted as saying, “An alpaca can have breakfast in Peru, lunch in Bolivia and dinner in Chile.”[1]  Alpacas are used by the native South American people for both fiber and meat.  The most highly developed fiber animals arose from the large alpaca estancias and farm co-ops of Peru, in response to demands of the large woolen mills in that country.  This is where the famed Accoyo herd was developed.


The Accoyo alpaca herd was the passion of Don Julio Barreda.  Barreda was born in 1919 to a Quechua Indian mother and an accountant father from Arequipa, who died when he was only 5 years old.  Barreda was raised by his mother and grandfather on the vast hacienda in the province of Carabaya.  There Barreda straddled two worlds;  the Quechua’s tradition-bound culture where a shepherd’s life is dependent for sustenance on his alpacas, and a privileged life of culture and education, steeped in the books of Gregor Mendel, world politics and classical music. Barreda developed an appreciation for the alpaca at a young age and brought his tremendous intelligence and education to bear on alpaca development.[2]

Until 1983, alpacas were confined to South America by export laws, unstable political climate and infectious disease concerns.  That began to change in 1983 when the USDA recognized Chile as Foot and Mouth Disease -free, opening the way for the first commercial importation of alpacas into the United States from South America.  However, Chile had no large commercial fiber mills and no large alpaca herds to supply them.  The first Chilean alpacas to be brought to the U.S. were purchased from the small Indian herds in Chile. 

However, the vast majority of South America’s 3.5 million alpacas reside in Peru (not Chile), where the exportation of these animals was still banned outside of South America,  in order to protect what that country considered to be part of its national heritage and prominent resource.[3]  Business in Peru was further complicated by Foot and Mouth Disease, the unstable political climate and the impact of the terrorist group known as the Shining Path. 

At this time in Bolivia, the Bohrt brothers established the Acero Marka farm specifically to buy alpaca breeding stock from the large co-ops of Peru, spirit them across the border into Bolivia[4] to breed them 

and sell the offspring to import markets in North America, Australia and Europe.  The Bohrt brothers placed a premium on fleece fineness.  The first “Bolivian” importation of alpacas to the U.S. occurred in 1991, and in reality, the animals were Peruvian in origin. The Bolivian imports of 1991 also brought the first Suri alpacas to the United States.

In 1990, the Peruvian political instability began to resolve with the election of President Fujimori, who was successful in defeating the Shining Path (Sendoro Luminoso) terrorist group, in redirecting revenue to the rural agricultural areas and, in 1992, in establishing new laws allowing the export of alpacas from Peru.  For the first time, in 1993, alpacas were imported directly from Peru into the United States.  At this point, the Accoyo Estancia still remained geographically remote, in regions deemed unsafe for foreign travelers.   However, the reputation of Accoyo was already spreading throughout the new North American alpaca industry.

Mike Safley, AOBA senior judge, owner of Northwest Alpacas, and one of the first alpaca owners in the United States, recalls his initial visit to Peru in 1991.  He recounts that as he traveled through the alpaca regions of Peru and toured the fiber mills, he consistently asked the opinions of the people he met as to who was the best alpaca breeder in Peru.  He recalls that every individual he asked gave the same response: Don Julio Barreda of the Accoyo Estancia.  On this same trip, Mike had the opportunity to see his first Accoyo alpacas, 24 herdsires sold to the Sallalli co-op.  Mike describes his reaction to the Accoyo animals as complete gape-mouthed awe, having never seen an alpaca that “looked like that” in his previous eight years as an alpaca breeder.  Mike describes the difference between the   Accoyo’s and his previous alpacas as being similar to viewing a professional NFL team placed against a high-school football team.  They were bigger, denser, and finer with spectacular fleece coverage.  Barreda is quoted as saying “It took me almost 30 years to make them big.  Today most of my Plantel males weigh almost 200 pounds and shear over 12 pounds a year”.  [1]

In 1955, Don Julio Barreda began his selective breeding principles to create size and density.  To become a herdsire, an A-Line male had to shear ten pounds at his 18-month first shearing and again at the second shearing.  Later, to fix fineness in his herd, Barreda developed a selection of B-Line females that were bred to his A-Line males.  These females were smaller, averaging 140 pounds, with finer fleeces and superior pheonotype.[2]  What was missing from the Accoyo herd?  Color!  Commercial herds in Peru focused on breeding for white, because the commercial mills in Peru paid a premium for white fiber.  When asked by the first importers where his colored animals were, Barreda quipped, “We ate them!”[3] Thus, about the darkest color you might see among the Accoyos was an occasional medium-fawn.  Barreda never bred a colored herdsire, although a few were selected for import into North America.  The colors currently represented in our North American herds are largely a result of the first Chilean alpaca imports. 


The first imported alpacas from the Accoyo Estancia were finally available in 1994 and were sold at the “Peruvian Elite Sale” at Maplewood Farms, owned by Jim and Nel Vickers in Charlevoix, Michigan.  The Accoyo group was comprised of 21 huacayas and 14 suris.  All  Accoyos were packaged in “six-packs” that included one Accoyo and five additional animals from other Peruvian origins.  In order to get one Accoyo, buyers had to commit to buying six alpacas!  Don Julio himself was the guest of honor.  Names that have become standards in the alpaca industry, such as Mike Tierney of Maple Brook Alpacas and Libby and Jerry Forstner of Magical Farms were there, hoping to buy their first alpacas at this sale. [1]  Laurie Harrison bought a single male for export to Australia for a record $105,000.  In the end, over $10,000,000 worth of alpacas sold in three days.

Accoyos were included in the subsequent alpaca importations from Peru in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. In 1998, the ARI membership voted overwhelmingly to close the registry.  Alpaca imports largely ceased.  In the end, about 7,000 alpacas were imported, only 348 (5%) of which were  Accoyos --  68 huacaya males, 171 huacaya females, 27 suri males,  and 82 suri females.  Their numbers were further depleted when several of the males were exported to Australia (huacayas Auzengate, Ruffo, Legend, Allin Capac,  Pluro, and suris Amador, Cadete and Barrajo,  all deceased).  Two additional  Accoyo males eventually left  for Germany.  The exported males left very few offspring in North America.  Since 1998, the value of the Accoyo animals left in the U.S. has soared, based on both the quality and the rarity of their genetics.  In the ARI registry today there are about 170,000 alpacas, with an estimated 5,000 (3%) that are full-Accoyo descendents. [2]

The Peruvian  Accoyos imported between 1994 and 1998 were at least two years old at importation.  Today the survivors range in age from 14 years to 21 years of age.  A recent survey of the 68 original huacaya import herdsires found only 12 remaining, most still producing young. (Refer to map and table)  These same 68 herdsires have contributed their genetics to a total of over 6,000 progeny.  Of the 27 original Accoyo suri herdsires, only 5 remain.  They have given rise to 740 offspring.  When asked if they could pick a favorite among the Accoyo herdsires they had known, Mike Safley chose Ruffo (exported to Australia, deceased), Greg  Mecklem (Accoyo America) picked Caligula.  Torbio was the most popular suri in the United States. From Australia, Alan Cousill (Pucara International) picked Amador as the favored suri and Pluro and Auzengate as the favored huacayas.   However, Libby Forstner (Magical Farms) probably summed it up best when she refused to name a favorite, noting that each of the 14 Accoyo import herdsires that passed through her farm had contributed their unique set of attributes.  She might use Titan, Don Juan or Timeteo if she was looking to maintain fineness and add staple length, but Plantel or Dracula if she was looking for massive density.   Libby was also quick to note that if a breeder wants to develop color, they should  probably return to the Chilean lines.

If you wish to learn more about the Peruvian import animals, their descriptions at the time of import and their farm of origin, you can find the import records of each Peruvian animal at, where Mike Safley has thoughtfully maintained and published the screening records of the Peruvian imports.  To learn more about each of the imported Accoyo animals and how they performed after importation; or to contribute your own information about the old  Accoyos represented in your herd, please contact the author or review the records that are being compiled on the “Accoyo” page at the website  . 


[1] Bibliography 5) page xviii

[2] Bibliography 7) pg vii and 14)

[3] Bibliography 15)

[4] Bibliography 7) pg 75

[5] Bibliography 4) pg 145

[6] Bibliography 4) pg 150

[7] Bibliography 14)

[8] Bibliography 4) pg 214 and 10).  Mike Tierney did purchase his first alpaca at this sale.  However Libby Forstner indicates the package pricing was too high for their (then) start-up farm and they had to look elsewhere to afford their first alpaca.

[9] This estimate is based on the number of animals in the ARI registry with the word “Accoyo” in the name.  The tradition of the industry is to insert the word “Accoyo” in the registered name of a full-Accoyo animal.  Some breeders will use the Accoyo name for animals that are only 7/8 Accoyo or less.  Although the ARI does not police this issue, the practice is discouraged.