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Haematology and biochemistry in alpacas and llamas
  1. Aiden Foster

    Aiden Foster is a veterinary investigation officer at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) – Shrewsbury.

  2. Cornelia Bidewell

    Cornelia Bidewell is a veterinary investigation officer at VLA – Bury St Edmunds.

  3. James Barnett

    James Barnett is a veterinary investigation officer at VLA – Truro.

  4. Robin Sayers

    Robin Sayers is a statistician based at the Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, VLA – Weybridge.


SOUTH American camelids – especially alpacas – are growing in numbers and popularity in the UK as sources of fibre. They are also kept for breeding and as pets. Previous studies of clinical biochemistry and haematology values have been reported from Australia, Germany, North America and Switzerland. The population sizes of some of these studies have been small, and the analytes determined have varied; in addition, there is an assumption that mean and reference interval values for llamas are equally valid for alpacas. However, differing management systems internationally may not allow easy comparison between these studies and clinical pathology values for camelids in the UK. This article provides haematological and biochemical parameters for alpacas and llamas using reference intervals derived from published literature and data drawn from animals of known health status sampled in the UK. It also highlights which parameters may be useful for assessing camelid health and disease status. However, the relationship between biochemical analytes, especially trace elements, and reproductive performance and various disease processes, including those affecting the central nervous system and the skin, have yet to be determined and require further investigation.

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