Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Shearing of alpacas is necessary, but also stressful

Date: May 12, 2017
Source: University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna

Shearing the animals on the floor or on a special tilt table also resulted in changed clinical parameters such as heart rate. These values remained at normal levels only when the animals were sheared in a standing position. But shearing animals in the standing position is only possible if the alpacas do not resist being restrained with a risk of injury to themselves or to their handlers. These animals should be restrained on a mattress on the ground or on a tilt table. The study was published in Veterinary Record with organisational and financial support from the Alpaca Association e.V. of Germany and the Austrian Buiatric Association.

Alpacas are members of the camel family and, like llamas, guanacos and vicuñas, belong to the New World camelids. Domesticated they are of great importance in South America, especially in Peru, where they have been kept and bred for their wool for thousands of years. In Europe, on the other hand, alpaca breeding is relatively uncommon. But the number of animals and breeders has been growing for years. Just like sheep, alpacas must be shorn regularly to harvest their wool. The procedure is an unusual one for the animals and thus a source of stress. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now investigated for the first time which shearing position produces the least amount of stress for the animals and therefore represents the least stressful method from the point of view of the animal's wellbeing.

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