Camelid Veterinary Services (CVS) officially opened its doors on 23rd April this year. The clinic is the brain-child of Specialist Camelid Veterinarian Claire E Whitehead, and is the only facility in Europe, and outside South America, focusing solely on South American Camelids, mainly alpacas. Local MP for Henley John Howell planted a tree to mark the occasion and gave warm support to a new rural business that could provide jobs in rural South Oxfordshire.
More than 70 guests attended the Grand Opening, mostly alpaca breeders from around the UK, and were given tours of the new facility which includes a large reception area big enough to serve as a teaching area. There is an animal reception area along with 3 indoor pens for in-patients, all of which can be properly washed down (walls and floor) to offer optimal biosecurity for visiting patients, an operating theatre and a laboratory. The building, which looks like a rather smart barn with an array of solar panels on the roof, was constructed to exacting eco-friendly standards, and there are outdoor pens and paddocks.
The clinic’s laboratory technician was available on the day offering free faecal egg counts. CVS offers the optimal diagnostic method for identifying parasite eggs and coccidia in Camelids – the Modified Stoll’s test. Claire provides interpretation and guidance to owners submitting samples for analysis based on her extensive knowledge and expertise. Jo Parker of Rushmere Alpacas says the “service is excellent: they provide everything you need and the feedback includes expert advice which takes all other aspects of health into account – all in simple no gobbledygook language”. Offering services that are tailored specifically for camelids is a core principle for CVS and is what sets it apart.
Claire’s residency mentor during her time at Ohio State University, world-renowned camelid vet David E Anderson, flew over from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to provide his support for his protegée. In the afternoon he gave absorbing presentations on “first aid and emergency medicine in alpacas”, “herd health, parasite control and monitoring”, and “antibiotic selection”.
Having established the Farm Animal & Camelid Clinical Centre at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire in 2007, Claire took the opportunity to establish Camelid Veterinary Services in 2011, to better serve the camelid industry in the UK and abroad. Now at last CVS has a wonderful new clinic, offering even more possibilities for serving the camelid community.