As you are all aware bTB is a problem that the alpaca community is facing , largely for the first time , and we are all scared about the possibilities . Imagine my surprise then , to discover that some areas of the country are not offering support and camaraderie to the whole community - one of the things that I prize in the alpaca industry above other agricultural industries is the 'family feeling' , we all support and work together - but sadly I am wrong! I received a call to let me know that in the north it is being strongly suggested at group meetings , that purchasing alpacas from Wales and the South West is a very dangerous thing to do and should be avoided at all costs if at all possible ! the reason is that sadly all our animals are riddled with TB and the North does not want them . WELL , I have news for you , there is very little TB in Wales and the South West , we are just as conscientious as the north about bio-security , in fact maybe more so , because we do have the misfortune to live in an area of bTB - but the hot spots are defined by DEFRA relating to COWS not alpaca.
Lets start at the top :-
Many of us live in areas where cattle are tested at 12 monthly intervals - their TB status is very accurate , 48 mth testing leaves room for all sorts of things to be going on ( think about it if you live on the edge of a hot spot, but your cattle are only tested at 48 mth intervals!)
Our vets are very alert to TB - they test for it almost daily and see the symptoms regularly - who is better placed to spot it ?
We practice high levels of bio-security - no nose-to-nose contact with other animals , badger fencing, secure feed areas , quarantine areas for animals that are moved on to the farm etc etc . the list is long and arduous.
We run a higher number of closed herds .
The farms that have been under restriction in the last couple of years are wide spread in the UK , from Sussex to Wales , Cornwall to the north.
My point is this - it is a terrible disease and God knows that we do not want it , but we are all at risk , sensible precautions are just that , but they will not prevent the spread , and scare mongering is not only inaccurate but prevents people from doing the right thing if they have suspicions about their own animals . Whispering at meetings , encouraging people not to deal with us does nothing but spread lies and fear. It damages our businesses , and the whole alpaca community is lessened by such slurs.
What we need is education , which the Welsh Assembly Gov is taking seriously . Enlighten guidelines and restrictions , which the Welsh Assembly Gov. are assessing for use from Nov - watch out England , you will be next - read the information and the proposed restrictions and make positive changes , it may start in Wales but it will affect the whole country sure as eggs is eggs .
Finally , rant over , alpaca breeders should stick together - do not throw stones at those who have the horror of this disease to deal with, do not make it something to be ashamed of, treat others as you wish to be treated . And be warned in the North , one day it could be you, and you will want the best information and support around - that may come from Wales and the South West where we have had the misfortune to have had to deal with it first - we carve the way , support us don't ostracise us , cos' one day you 'll wish you hadn't