Alpaca blood donation event brings BBC Countryfile to Derby

PUBLISHED: 09:55 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:55 23 February 2018

Scarsdale Vets' Fay Pooley and Matt Baker from BBC Countryfile  Photo: Scarsdale Vets

Scarsdale Vets' Fay Pooley and Matt Baker from BBC Countryfile Photo: Scarsdale Vets

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A blood donation event for alpacas, held by Scarsdale Veterinary Practice, features on BBC One’s Countryfile programme

Alpaca  Photo: HazelBrendAlpaca Photo: HazelBrend

The countryside came to the city with a difference when Scarsdale Vets held its first ever alpaca blood donation event for local farmers at the veterinary group’s farm and equine unit at Markeaton, on the outskirts of Derby. The event on 9th February brought together a group of alpacas from four different farms to ensure that plasma would be available to offer a lifeline to fellow herd members and baby alpacas if needed.

Last October saw cat blood typing and dog blood donation events taking place at Pride Veterinary Centre in the heart of Derby but this latest event was so unusual that it attracted the attention of BBC Countryfile, which was keen to find out more about the thinking behind the venture, and sent along presenter Matt Baker.

Four alpaca famers from Derbyshire had brought along six alpacas eligible to give blood - not all are suitable – to the event run by farm vet Fay Pooley, who is currently working towards a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP) specialising in camelids.

Fay explains why it is important to build up a supply of plasma: ‘Baby alpacas, also known as cria, are born without antibodies which can leave them open to serious infections in the first few days of life. Immunity in a baby alpaca is usually passed on from its mother through the first milk, but if the newborn doesn’t drink enough in the first twelve hours of life, they won’t receive enough antibodies to ensure a healthy immune system. The best way to correct this is by giving plasma intravenously, which will support their immune system until they are old enough to produce their own antibodies. This is an important way to support herd owners in maintaining healthy animals and we are really pleased to have had such a good turn out from local alpaca farmers.’

Fay Pooley, Scarsdale's Farm Vet, taking blood from an alpaca  Photo: Scarsdale VetsFay Pooley, Scarsdale's Farm Vet, taking blood from an alpaca Photo: Scarsdale Vets

One of the farmers to take part was Ingrid Ruston of Amber Valley Alpacas, who said: ‘We are really delighted to be involved in Scarsdale’s blood donation event. The health of our herd is so important to our business and it was also good to meet other breeders and collectively develop a way to support our animals in the future.’

The blood collected was then sent to Pet Blood Bank UK, the only charity in the country that provides a blood bank service to all veterinary practitioners in the UK 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. At their processing centre in Loughborough, the blood will be turned into plasma and frozen for future use. Although when needed, plasma can only be used within the herd it was collected from to avoid any potential transfer of disease.

Founder of Pet Blood Bank UK, Wendy Barnett, said: ‘We are proud to be able to support the veterinary profession with our blood service. One unit of donated alpaca blood goes a long way, to help save the life of a cria.’

This is another departure for Pet Blood Bank UK, which was launched at Crufts in 2007 to provide a national canine blood bank as, just like people, sick and injured animals may need blood transfusions. Owners who wish to donate, and whose dogs meet the required criteria, can register their dogs on the website at www.petbloodbankuk, and once registered Pet Blood Bank arranges for them to bring their dog along to a collection session.

Alpaca blood donation event at Scarsdale Vets with BBC Countryfile  Photo: Scarsdale VetsAlpaca blood donation event at Scarsdale Vets with BBC Countryfile Photo: Scarsdale Vets

Not only is this another advance that justifies Britain’s long-held reputation as a nation of animal lovers, it confirms that we can be justifiably proud of the dedication and pioneering nature of our local vets.

Visit www.scarsdalevets.com to find out more about Scarsdale Vets, www.petbloodbankuk.org to find out more about Pet Blood Bank UK, and www.ambervalleyalpacas.co.uk to find out more about Amber Valley Alpacas.

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