Author: British Alpaca Society

BAS Webinar series Autumn and Winter 2021/22

A series of webinars have been arranged for BAS members. (Non members can attend for a fee of £25 per webinar and should email for the details of how to pay and to get the link(s)).

You can find the links in the weekly Newsletter and on the BAS members Chat Forum on Facebook

7.00pm – Thursday 23rd September 2021
Emma Taylor – Skirting and fleece preparation 

7.00pm – Thursday 7th October 2021
Tim Hey – Preparing for Show success -27 years of experience

7.00pm – Thursday 21st October 2021
Paul Vallely – Fleece analysis explained

7.00pm – Thursday 11th November 2021
Neil Payne –  Business Diversification (with alpacas)

7.00pm – Thursday  9th December 2021
Victoria Barrett –  Camelidynamics

National Open Farm Days Success

At the time of writing I have had reports back from 23 (out of 100) farms that were open to the public and the total attendance for these farms is over 10,000,

Comments that came back include:

“We had a wonderful time on Saturday,,,,,,,It was a really enjoyable day for visitors, helpers and me too.  Can’t wait to do it again.”

“Both the response and atmosphere were amazing with visitors ranging from those with a passing curiosity to those with a desire to pursue ownership”.

“We had an absolute blast at the weekend! We have never run an event at the farm and are not open to the public so this was a first!   We had about 800 visitors over both days. A lovely steady stream all day from start to finish. All the feedback since the event and on the day has been wonderful and people have been very appreciative of the chance to see the farm and meet the animals.”

“We were blown away by the turn out we received. It was a great day and the smile on all of the kids’ faces was amazing and lovely to see.”

“We made new friends with some of the locals (we’ve only been trekking 5 weeks!) And showed our old friends what we’ve achieved. We got some super feedback (All good)!”


Gallery of photos available here

Press release – British Alpaca Society left incredulous at APHA response to complaint – further action will be taken.

PRESS RELEASE -4th September Aug 2021 -for immediate use

British Alpaca Society left incredulous at APHA response to complaint – further action will be taken.

 BAS Chair Ms Sue Loach says in response to the APHA letter, “APHA clearly don’t seem to have witnessed the same events that I did, APHA claim to have carefully planned a removal operation with consideration for Geronimo’s welfare and yet they failed to correctly put a halter on him and then tied him up in a dangerous manner in the trailer.  Alpacas sit when travelling and the lead rope length would not allow that to happen.”

 APHA say that “Veterinary surgeons were present at the loading and the unloading as well as travelling behind the trailer during its journey.”  Ms Loach notes, “That is clearly no help when the alpaca has been tied up on a rope that is too short. These vets were in no position to help during travel so could have no impact on welfare.”

APHA did admit that “This was a difficult and high-pressure situation for all involved. We can assure you that our staff did all in their power to protect Geronimo’s welfare and treat him with dignity.”  In response to this Ms Loach says, “I find this statement beyond belief! No admission of a halter that was stopping normal breathing and no admission that the tying up in a trailer is totally wrong – it would have been quicker and safer to leave him loose in the trailer. How can they claim there was protection of welfare? APHA should be in doubt BAS will not let this appalling unprofessionalism go unchallenged and further action will be taken.”

Duncan Pullar BAS CEO on behalf of the BAS Board

07496 578781


Open letter to Government regarding treatment of Geronimo

Dear Mr Cane, Mr De la Rua-Domenech and Ms Middlemiss


Official Complaint

The British Alpaca Society is the main body representing alpaca owners in the UK and is responsible for maintaining the records of all registered alpacas (40,000) & providing welfare & education to our 2,000 members.

We write to complain about the disgraceful & abhorrent conduct of APHA officers and vets who attended Helen McDonald’s premises to seize her alpaca Geronimo yesterday (31/8/21).

As those responsible for animal welfare APHA had a duty of care to Geronimo to ensure he was handled and euthanised with a minimum of distress, neither of which they achieved.

The lack of knowledge as to the correct way to handle alpacas was startling and totally inexcusable, dragging him kicking and screaming on to a trailer then tying him up with a poorly fitted cattle halter; he was screaming his distress call as he was brutally loaded which is evidence of how terrified he was – in front of the world’s media.

Alpacas are semi obligate nasal breathers and as such should have headcollars correctly sized & fitted so as not to obstruct their breathing, it is very evident from the footage that this didn’t happen. – Geronimo was seen gasping for air.

It is also well documented that alpacas sit down when being transported, yet Geronimo was tied up like a horse.

There is no excuse for these actions, the correct information is in the public domain, yet whoever led this repulsive exercise yesterday simply hadn’t bothered to find out the proper techniques. Whoever led yesterday’s operation must be formally suspended immediately for such gross misconduct and animal abuse.

If Geronimo arrived at his final destination still alive and not strangled or suffocated, how can we be sure he was humanely euthanised? If basic handling was so appalling how can anyone be sure he was euthanised correctly & in a calm & dignified matter?

Given APHA officers knew that they were going to be filmed and images shared globally, we beg the question how much worse would the handling have been had they not been filmed?

Their behaviour was disgusting, repulsive and cruel & in total disregard for Geronimo’s welfare and we would demand a full and formal public investigation to be initiated immediately.

The actions of DEFRA representatives seizing Geronimo was unacceptable for officers who are charged with animal welfare.

If this is the level of ‘professionalism’ shown by government officials in difficult circumstances, then something is very very wrong. The handling of Geronimo yesterday was abhorrent, brutal & is not deemed acceptable behaviour by such officers.

We await your urgent response by return.

Yours sincerely


Sue Loach

BAS Chair on Behalf of the BAS Board


Sent to:

Stephen Cane – Defra

Christine Middlemiss – Defra Chief Vet

Ricardo De la Rua-Domenech – APHA

Boris Johnson

Mr George Eustice




Members of the British Press

APHA fail in their duty of care to Geronimo

No-one could have failed to be repulsed by the way Geronimo was treated by the APHA officers who seized him.

Whilst we have to respect that they were carrying out their legal duties they completely failed in their duty of care towards Geronimo.

There was clearly no knowledge as to the best way to transport an alpaca or how to fit a halter on a semi-obligate nasal breather and as such we believe APHA have been negligent in allowing unnecessary suffering to Geronimo.

You must make sure the halter does not impact on the ability to breathe, by making sure the noseband is high enough,  and you never tie up an alpaca during transport because they prefer to lie down when travelling. Denying Geronimo that option will have cause major distress and risk the serious injury.

It is therefore the intention of BAS to file an official complaint to APHA, Christine Middlemiss, George Eustice, the Prime Minister and the BVA on the grounds of poor animal welfare.

We cannot and will not condone any act of cruelty, it is especially appalling when it is carried out by those responsible for animal welfare.

Duncan Pullar BAS CEO on behalf of the BAS Board

07496 578781

The British Alpaca Society is extremely disappointed by the actions of APHA today

PRESS RELEASE -31Aug 2021 -for immediate use

The British Alpaca Society is extremely disappointed by the actions of APHA today

BAS is very concerned for the stress caused to Geronimo and his owner, Helen MacDonald.  It is the responsibility of APHA to ensure good animal welfare when they are in control of Geronimo up to, and including, the point of his slaughter.

The BAS has sympathy for Helen MacDonald and the exceedingly difficult circumstances that have happened today.  The loss of any alpaca, for a dedicated owner, is always a upsetting experience.

BAS have consistently made requests to Defra / APHA to allow further testing of Geronimo to better understand his bTB status, but these have been denied.  There is still a chance to learn.

Post-mortem examination is vital to improve learning in this case and BAS implore AHPA to carry out a thorough post-mortem examination to maximise learning.  Given the lack of trust between Ms MacDonald and APHA BAS request an independent qualified observer for all post-mortem work to ensure confidence in any results.

Duncan Pullar BAS CEO on behalf of the BAS Board

07496 578781

Trialling a new fleece scoring system at fleece shows

Trialling a new fleece scoring system at fleece shows

The current points allocation and assessment used in BAS Fleece Shows was written many years ago and has served BAS well but significant advancements in alpaca breeding together with greater knowledge and experience gathered over the years means a review would be sensible.

If the system is going to change it needs to be an improvement so the first step will be for the Judges to research and test alternative approaches to judging fleeces.

In support of this research some fleece show organisers have agreed that fleeces entered in their shows in 2021/2022 will be judged on the existing BAS methodology (and awards made on those results), but at the same time will also be judged on a trial methodology to enable the judges to evaluate the impact on points allocation and the performance of that methodology. Research of this kind is necessary before any changes are implemented (or not). BAS is certain that fleece judging must reflect current thinking and values.

Once the Judges have collected enough data and carried out an evaluation of that data, they will share their findings to a joint meeting of the Show Rules and Show Organisers Committee’s. The outcome of this will then be reported to the Board for consideration and, if deemed appropriate, further action.  The main findings will be shared with BAS members through the usual channels.

Important points for exhibitors:

  1. Fleeces will be judged, and points awarded in accordance with the current guidelines and point distribution, and this will be the basis of awards to fleeces. There will be no change to how your fleeces are judged and placed in the fleece show you have entered.


  1. The application of a revised judging method and points allocation will be for research purposes only, fully anonymised and for summary review by the Judges Committee. No individual results will be shared or published as they will be from research and as such are not valid for general distribution or sharing with exhibitors.


  1. There will be no additional handling of fleeces involved.


It is hoped that exhibitors will welcome this initiative and support it.

British Alpaca Society calls for urgent talks with DEFRA amidst fears for the future of voluntary bTB testing in the UK.

PRESS RELEASE -9 Aug 2021 -for immediate use

British Alpaca Society calls for urgent talks with DEFRA amidst fears for the future of voluntary bTB testing in the UK.

BAS recognises the need for an effective bTB testing scheme in alpacas that has the confidence and support of its members for the benefit of their alpacas and their bovine neighbours.  The recent events relating to Geronimo have done nothing to advance that position and have considerably undermined confidence in the current regime.

The unique circumstances that have developed relating to Geronimo clearly show the testing system is not working as well as it should, and it is a matter of concern  that Defra do not appear to want to learn from what is going on.

Defra will not allow further testing on Geronimo. There is no science to explain the effects of multiple priming on the outcomes of the Enferplex test in alpacas and no research has been carried out.

Four years on from the tests Geronimo is healthy, as are the alpacas which have been sharing his paddock, and indeed the alpacas that travelled from New Zealand with Geronimo on the same or contiguous crates.

BAS is concerned that George Eustice is not being properly briefed.

His Daily Mail article contains factual errors. George Eustice says, …”the Enferplex test detects the protein of bTB itself, not an immune response”.

The manufacture’s website clearly states “the Enferplex TB test is a serological assay which identifies the presence of antibody to Mycobacterium bovis”.

Mr Eustice also says, “the skin test can pick up around 25 per cent of cases in alpacas at best so is far less reliable than the test used in the UK.”

The skin test he downplays is also used in the UK (on alpacas and cattle) and is approved by the UK Government who recognise an 80% sensitivity in cattle and 15%. in camelids.

BAS highlighted concerns to DEFRA about the potential adverse effects of multiple priming before an Enferplex test in alpacas in 2016 and again specifically in Geronimo’s case in March 2018. To date no evidence has been produced to explain the effects of this practice on test results.

BAS endorse the request for a further test of Geronimo. To date such requests have been declined by DEFRA/ APHA.  Alpaca breeders and owners would welcome the opportunity to learn from Geronimo and cannot understand why the government would not wish to do so as well



Duncan Pullar BAS CEO on behalf of the BAS Board

07496 578781

BAS Position on Recent developments regarding Geronimo

BAS Position on Recent developments regarding Geronimo.

BAS continues to support Helen MacDonald with the exceedingly difficult circumstances that have uniquely evolved surrounding her alpaca Geronimo over several years.

BAS highlighted concerns to DEFRA specifically in Geronimo’s case in March 2018 about the potential adverse effects of multiple priming before an Enferplex test in alpacas. To date no evidence has been produced to explain the effects of this practice on test results.

BAS has tried hard to maintain an effective working relationship with Defra and APHA for the benefit of all BAS members with regular meetings to discuss bTB policy and implementation. We respect the fact that individual cases cannot be discussed by Defra/ APHA with anyone other than the owner and the case veterinary officers and as such we have not been able to discuss Geronimo’s case.

Prompted by the issues relating to Geronimo, and with permission of Helen MacDonald, BAS has written to Government on several occasions to encourage actions that might use this case as a learning experience.

BAS has asked for controlled experiments to produce evidence that resolves concerns around the effect of multiple priming on test results, and tactical use of testing in field cases that will help develop policy and understanding, we have offered to support such research with financial input and that offer remains in place.


Work on a bovine bTB vaccine is underway and BAS urge Defra to include alpacas in that work, which would move alpaca owners into a position where they could truly engage with bTB control measures in the animals they own.


BAS fully recognises the difficulty in making changes to Government policy based on field cases.  That said they do represent an opportunity for learning. We appreciate that APHA are there to deliver existing policy and cannot deviate from their instructions during a breakdown case. Nevertheless, BAS is making every effort to encourage Defra/APHA to take every opportunity to gather information to improve testing and understanding of bTB in camelids to help engage owners in voluntary testing.


At the present time BAS has 2000 members who, between them, own over 40,000 alpacas.  The low level of voluntary testing clearly demonstrates a lack of confidence in the voluntary testing regime.  A good deal of that lack of confidence can be linked to the Geronimo case.    This is a lose-lose scenario because lack of confidence in testing leads to reduced testing and hence the opportunity to control bTB in alpacas for the benefit of alpacas and cattle.


BAS endorse the request for a further test of Geronimo to better understand what has happened. To date such requests have been declined by DEFRA/ APHA.  It appears there is a fear of finding out further information.


BAS continues to be committed to the best possible practice of bTB testing in alpacas for the benefit of the animals themselves, our bovine neighbours, BAS members, and wildlife.

BAS National Halter Show 2021 – CANCELLED

BAS National Halter Show 2021 – CANCELLED

It is with great sadness that the BAS National Show Committee have to announce that the 2021 National Halter Show is cancelled.  The latest round of Covid rules mean that planning for a show in late March is unworkable.  Later dates were considered but the difficulties linked to clashes with regional shows (if they run), shearing dates, and birthing season, combined to make it clear that the most sensible approach is to plan for 2022.

The good news is that the Champion of Champions Fleece Show will run and dates for fleece submission will be announced in due course.

The very popular Stud Auction will also run this year with aim of generating funds for a spectacular show in 2022.

If you have sponsorship and places secured from the 2020 show that didn’t happen through leaving your fees “in the pot” then those will carry over to 2022.  If you want to give those places back and get a refund, then you can.

The National Show Committee are determined to put on a truly amazing event in 2022 and look forward to your support when the time comes.  provisional dates for 2022 are 25th, 26th and 27th March

Regards Duncan

On behalf of the NS Committee