Veterinarians can learn about llama and alpaca care and gain continuing education credits anytime through an online program out of Kansas State University.
The distance education program, which is in its first year of development, includes training in herd health, nutrition, reproduction, neonatology, medicine, and surgery.
Dr. David E. Anderson, head of agricultural practices in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Sciences Department, has received positive feedback from veterinarians who took courses as well as suggestions for new subjects. He and assistant professor Dr. Meredyth L. Jones co-direct the program. They are collaborating with Dr. Dusty Nagy at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Dr. Melanie Boileau at Oklahoma State University.
The five-year initiative to create the continuing education program is funded by a $20,000 grant from the Mid-America Alpaca Foundation.
Foundation President Pete Caffrey, who has raised alpacas for eight years, said the education project started with a conversation he, his wife, and other alpaca breeders had about the difficulties in finding veterinarians with experience treating alpacas. They decided to use profits from an alpaca show and silent auction to increase awareness of the animals. Those profits are split among efforts to increase camelid education for college students and current practitioners.
Caffrey hopes there will be between 40 and 60 hours of camelid CE available to veterinarians through the KSU site within the next five years. He expects some of the courses, such as pasture management, may help owners and breeders as well.
The Camelid Distance Education Program Web site is http://www.vet.k-state.edu/education/continuing/.