Stanley Elley qualified (MRCVS) at the New Edinburgh Veterinary College in 1903, winning several academic medals. In 1904 he was appointed as a veterinary officer in the Cape Colony under D. Hutcheon*. In 1905 he tested whether vomiting disease could be induced by feeding animals the vermeer bush (Geigeria sp.) but, like others before him, found no effect. He none the less maintained that the plant was responsible for the disease, as the disease only occurred on veld where the plant was present, and never where it was absent. In his annual report for that year he also described his observations on geeldikkop (tribulosis) in the Beaufort West district, showing that the disease could be decreased considerably by moving sheep to higher pastures.
In 1908 Elley was stationed at Oudtshoorn where he married Magdalena Johanna Olivier and remained for the rest of his life. After the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he resigned and went farming in the district. In due course he became known as a breeder of race horses. However, he was still registered as a veterinarian in 1929. During World War I (1914-1918) he joined the South African Veterinary Corps and saw service in Namibia and East Africa. His scientific contributions mainly concerned ostrich health. Soon after his arrival in Oudtshoorn he published two articles in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, on 'The ostrich industry' (1909, Vol. 35(3), pp. 312-315) and 'Hermaphroditism in the ostrich' (1910, Vol. 37(3), p. 291). In 1913 he published an illustrated article in The Veterinary Journal on caponising ostriches, which was reproduced in full in Sir Frederick Hobday's book Castration and ovariotomy.