Owners of alpacas and llamas will be urged to do more to prevent the spread of bovine TB between their animals through a voluntary government scheme.

Defra figures show 76 camelid herds have lost at least two animals to TB over the past 10 years, including 17 alpaca incidents last year. But they are likely to underestimate the problems simply because TB testing is voluntary. In one case alone in 2012, more than 400 alpacas were slaughtered from an infected in East Sussex.

Defra is introducing a voluntary code of practice on TB surveillance and herd accreditation for alpaca and llama owners. It will also include pre- and post-movement TB testing and the recording of all animal movements.

At the same time there will be a consultation period on mandatory compensation for alpacas and llamas that are slaughtered for TB control, to encourage owners to take a more proactive role in dealing with the disease.

But some camelid owners say the voluntary aspect is wrong.  Diane Summers, from Busveal, near Redruth, Cornwall, who contracted TB from her own alpacas, said: "I have been fighting for compulsory movement restrictions for many years. We cannot control this disease on a voluntary basis."

There was no guarantee that owners with a TB problem would adopt the measures being asked of them.

Mrs Summers said she knew of at least 1,000 alpacas that had been slaughtered over the past two years because of TB, all owned by members of the Camelid TB Support and Research Group that she runs.

Farming Minister and Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, George Eustice, said: "If we are to tackle the blight of bovine TB once and for all, it is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that it can ruin lives and livelihoods of far more people than just cattle farmers."

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