A survey of the health of South American camelids in the United Kingdom was carried out between December 1992 and June 1993; 123 members of the British Camelid Owners and Breeders Association and 19 non-members were sent questionnaires and usable responses were received from 84 (59 per cent). In total 689 camelids were included, and in 1992, 66 per cent were llama, 21 per cent alpaca and 13 per cent guanaco. Their ages ranged from less than six months to over 10 years, with animals aged two to five years constituting the largest proportion. The mortality rates between 1990 and 1992 were 2.7 to 3.3 per cent for llama, 3.5 to 6.9 per cent for alpaca and 0 to 11.4 per cent for guanaco. The highest mortality was in animals less than six months and more than 10 years old; 4 to 11 per cent of llama deaths and 17 to 33 per cent of alpaca deaths were in animals aged less than six months and a high proportion of these occurred during the first week of life. In the cases for which a cause was reported, accidents and injury accounted for 20 per cent of llama deaths, and perinatal deaths accounted for 22 per cent of alpaca deaths. A third of the deaths were reported as being of unknown cause, and a veterinary diagnosis was reported in less than half of the cases. These data suggest that attention to the environment and housing conditions of llama, the neonatal care of alpaca and improvements in diagnosis are priorities for reducing the mortality and improving the health of South American camelids in the UK.
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