New project aims to better understand alpacas and llamas as popularity booms in Scotland - Veterinary Practice
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New project aims to better understand alpacas and llamas as popularity booms in Scotland

The growing popularity llama and alpaca keeping has prompted the launch of a new initiative aimed at creating a better understanding of the camelid sector in Scotland

Alpaca in the snow at Garguston farm near Muir of Ord. Image courtesy of Peter Jolly

Researchers at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are leading the project to find out more about the camelid species, which in addition to llamas and alpacas, includes guanacos and vicuñas.

The number of people breeding camelids in Scotland has increased over the years, with specialist farms also providing treks and other alpaca and llama experiences.

SRUC scientists at the Inverness-based Centre for Epidemiology and Planetary Health and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, will investigate how keepers in Scotland record information about their animals, including those they buy and sell.

It will also assess what issues matter to the people who care for them so their opinions can be considered when policy decisions are formed.

The project, funded by the Scottish Government as part of its Strategic Research Programme, aims to ensure Scotland fulfils its requirements in relation to the recording and monitoring of animal health and welfare, to align with best practice in other developed countries.

Madeleine Henry, a veterinary epidemiologist at SRUC, said: “The camelid sector is growing in Scotland, but the current extent and the needs of our camelid population are less visible than those of other species kept on farms, crofts, paddocks and smallholdings.

“We are asking camelid keepers to tell us more about their animals, to allow better assessment of potential methods of future support for the sector in Scotland.”

The project team has put together a short survey and is keen to speak to keepers who are interested in sharing their opinions further.

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