Jul 23, 2013

Veterinary Care for Backyard Chickens, a Dialogue that Must Begin


After having had three extremely ill chickens in urgent need of medical care recently, it has become painfully apparent to me that finding trained medical professionals who treat backyard chickens is difficult at best.
After having had three extremely ill chickens in urgent need of medical care recently, it has become painfully apparent to me that finding trained medical professionals who treat backyard chickens is difficult at best. If and when we are able to find any veterinarian willing to treat chickens, we consider ourselves lucky. Once past that hurdle, we just hope that they do the right thing from a treatment perspective, knowing that most vets do not have any significant formal training in poultry care. A 2013 study published by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System projecting an increase in urban backyard flocks of over 400% in the next 5 years, it is time to discuss our expectations for medical care of our chickens among ourselves and with our veterinarians.
 I have had chicken-care conversations with nearly a dozen vets over the past year, one of whom emailed me last autumn with some questions about starting her own backyard flock. I mentioned the dire need for chicken veterinarians across the United States and she indicated that she “...would like to feel educated on the basics of chicken medicine.”  I encouraged her to seek formal education in the field not only for her own future flock, but to help bridge the gap between sick or injured chickens and caregivers. I was heartened to know that she completed some online education this past winter.
 I have had chicken-care conversations with nearly a dozen vets over the past year, one of whom emailed me last autumn with some questions about starting her own backyard flock. I mentioned the dire need for chicken veterinarians across the United States and she indicated that she “...would like to feel educated on the basics of chicken medicine.”  I encouraged her to seek formal education in the field not only for her own future flock, but to help bridge the gap between sick or injured chickens and caregivers. I was heartened to know that she completed some online education this past winter. 
Esther had ovarian cancer, a very common condition in older laying hens, which required putting her down. Stella was also euthanized when it was discovered that she had a severe case of egg yolk peritonitis. Both conditions were confirmed by necropsies.
Esther had ovarian cancer, a very common condition in older laying hens, which required putting her down. Stella was also euthanized when it was discovered that she had a severe case of egg yolk peritonitis. Both conditions were confirmed by necropsies. 

After having participated in a public forum on backyard chicken-keeping recently, this particular veterinarian's feelings were that: “[c]hicken people complain that vets don't know anything but they also are willing to pay nothing to have their animals taken care of properly.  It's a bad cycle of bad feelings. I hate for (animals) to suffer with a treatable problem. I could use some guidance regarding charging for treatment and an approach to dealing with the notion that vets don't know anything about chickens.” She and I have had several discussions about veterinary care for backyard chickens. I admire her candor and willingness to discuss these issues and while I am happy to share my opinions with her, I believe these important topics ought to be discussed within and between the chicken-keeping and veterinary healthcare communities generally.  Only by fleshing out these issues collaboratively, nation-wide can we eventually come to a place where we are comfortable discussing our birds' health with our vets, comfortable with the care our chickens receive and where vets are comfortable including chicken-care as a component of their practice.
This subject hit the front page of The Wall Street Journal after reporter Jon Kamp contacted me to discuss an different topic, piquing his interest in the lack of trained, experienced poultry vets for backyard chickens.
edited to add: This subject hit the front page of The Wall Street Journal after reporter Jon Kamp contacted me to discuss an different topic, piquing his interest in the lack of trained, experienced poultry vets for backyard chickens.
Some of my flock members on 9/14/13. photo credit: Jon Kamp, The Wall Street Journal
Some of my flock members on 9/14/13. photo credit: Jon Kamp, The Wall Street Journal
 DO feel free to share that you view your chickens as livestock and if they are sick, you cull them. DO NOT share that you believe anyone who takes their chicken to a vet is wasting their money.
I invite you to share your thoughts on some, any or all of the questions below. Please limit your comments to constructive input regarding your own thoughts, feelings and decisions you would make for your flock. Please refrain from passing judgment on the decisions another chicken-keeper may make for their flock or engaging in debate with another reader. Comments will be moderated to ensure compliance with this request for a judgment-free dialogue. For example: DO feel free to share that you view your chickens as livestock and if they are sick, you cull them. DO NOT share that you believe anyone who takes their chicken to a vet is wasting their money.
 DO feel free to share that you view your chickens as livestock and if they are sick, you cull them. DO NOT share that you believe anyone who takes their chicken to a vet is wasting their money.
Some of the issues you may wish to address are:
Do you view your backyard chickens as livestock, pets or something else?
Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits?
Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog?
Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees?  If so, is that fair to the practitioner?

Please feel free to share any other thoughts you may have on the subject of chicken medical care below.
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158 comments :

  1. Well, we have a good sized flock, so our chickens are considered livestock. If they are sick or past age 3, they get culled. We would not call out a vet, or bring a chicken to the vet... not because we do not value them, but because it is impractical for our budget. I think there are a lot of things we as owners can do to protect our chickens health, and if someone wants to take their chicken to a vet - by all means do so :). However, I would NOT expect the vet to give a better rate because of the cost of the chicken. I pay the same (if not less sometimes!) to have a vet care for my 5-figure-digit (I have never paid that for a horse, all of my horses came to me with issues that once fixed increased their value) valued horses as I do my 3-figure-digit cats or 2-figure-digit cats and goats. I think the fee should be basically the same across the board to be fair to the practitioner.

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  2. I love my chickesn....they r like family and i would pay to get them the right care

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  3. Lorraine 'Wolowicz' Wood7/23/13, 4:19 PM

    I'm so glad that you started this blog! I raise both chickens and ducks for their eggs, and so I view them partially as livestock. However, we aren't looking to eat them, so they're partially pets, too. So we consider them "pets with a purpose"! :)

    While I live in KY, and thought that there would be more knowledgeable vets here with regards to our flocks, that has not been the case. I've learned a great deal through books and this set of blog posts as a result. Having a small flock, I really don't want to cull our birds unless absolutely necessary. The ducks we own are on the ALBC Critical or Endangered lists, and our chickens also tend to be rarer breeds, so replacement can also be costly. I'd rather get them healthy!

    That said, I'm willing to pay a standard office visit fee. I wouldn't take the birds to a vet in the first place unless I felt that it was warranted, and it was something that I couldn't manage myself. And if I can manage it myself, I do! That's part of animal husbandry. But when I need a vet, I need a knowledgeable one, and I do think that he/she should be compensated for that knowledge.

    I hope that this blog does inspire more conversations, and gets people to thinking through their decision to raise and keep chickens.

    Thank you!

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  4. I'm very new to backyard chicken keeping but, after searching my area for poultry veterinarians in advance of getting my chickens, I realized that I will probably be on my own for their medical care. As such, I've been reading as much as I possibly can (including your very informative blog). I have four dual purpose birds that I got primarily for eggs. I have also named them and feel very fond of each of them (also, I resent how some chicken keepers make fun of people who name their chickens.... sure, when discussing an individual chicken with someone, I could refer to her as "the Barred Rock with the weird looking wattle" or I could refer to her as "Florence", what's the big deal?). I consider my ladies both pets and livestock - - I don't feel those are mutually exclusive categories - - as pets, they definitely don't go in the house, but they do jump onto my lap, but as livestock their primary purpose is for eggs and, after they are done laying, for meat. Just because I named my chickens doesn't mean that they won't someday be my dinner.

    If one of them became injured or ill, I would try to do what I could to help them. But unless I could find someone to help me, I would definitely cull them rather than having them suffer or potentially infect the rest of the flock. Also, to be honest, while I honor and respect their lives, I don't know if I would be willing to spend a lot of money on their medical care. I guess I haven't been in a position of having to make that decision.

    As for the hypothetical questions...

    Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
    Yes, it would be nice to have this option, as long as they had training and experience with chickens.

    Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
    No.

    If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits?
    Maybe, depending on how much it would cost. In particular, it would be nice to have a professional to talk to about the health of my flock.

    Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog?
    It seems like fees should be based on the cost of the exam, cost of the equipment used, cost of the drugs, etc., not on the animal. An x-ray should cost the same regardless of whether you're x-raying a cat or a chicken.

    Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner?

    I think the cost of purchasing a chicken has nothing to do with the cost of its medical care.

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  5. I would seek care for chickens from a vet. I would not bring them for well-pet visits. I am conflicted about pricing. Veterinary care has become so out-of-control expensive in recent years that I feel all of it is unfairly overpriced, so to say that I feel rates should be discounted would really not apply only to chickens, but across the board (e.g., my vet's office charged FIFTY DOLLARS to have a TECH do an anal gland expression on my dog. A TECH). BTW, I live in rural NH. There is one vet here who treats chickens. One. And he's 40 minutes away.


    I'm not sure whether I'd bring my chicken to a vet who didn't have chicken training/experience. That would likely result in paying a high vet fee for nothing. One of the owners of a chicken-related page on FB that I follow seems to know far more than her vet about her chickens and that is only because she is taking the time to look things up and learn. Vets should be doing that, too.

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  6. Chicken Judy7/23/13, 4:22 PM

    I feel this about my pets, if I would treat my grandmother , why can't I treat my chickens?
    But if know one is out their and wants to treat chickens what do you do?
    Maybe we should start a backyard chicken Society

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  7. Wow, great topic. Our co-op flock has 70+ chickens, down from 80+ a few months ago. The veterinary options are county ag-extension staff, feed store advice, one vet about an hour away. Co-op members have taken chickens into their homes and treated them with a cost that seems to hover around $60 but the results haven't been good. (Chickens didn't make it). So I would say that yes, we'd like to see more professional care options and yes, we are willing to pay out something for the help if not something as high as what dog/cat care costs per animal. I'd like to see a traveling vet who'd be willing to visit our facility and make recommendations on the care of the flock. Who could suggest tweaks to our current program. Who could comment on the general health condition of the flock and how we might take reasonable steps to improve it. I could see paying $100 to $150 for a consult like that. I don't see us paying a few hundred for a surgery on one single bird though. Thanks for opening and hosting this discussion!

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  8. My chickens are livestock, and I don't pay vet bills for $2-5 animals. I want them to have good, happy lives, but that doesn't include expensive vet bills. I am also willing to eat them if they are injured. I would be more willing to pay for a vet trip for the whole flock, such as a combined fecal or to treat a problem which is apparently spreading to other animals. I am interested in providing them reasonable medical care which I can learn myself, including learning fecals. For me, the concern is both the expense and a belief that some medical treatments can be done, but may not be in the animal's best interest, such as extending a life through medical treatments they are afraid of, or extending pain or illness. I don't tell others what to do with their animals, but I do question how many other animals could have been saved when I hear of high veterinary expenses.

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  9. Laura Haggarty7/23/13, 4:27 PM

    Q: Do you view your backyard chickens as livestock, pets or something else?
    A: My chickens are livestock. When I started out with poultry, they were much more like pets. But having bred them for almost 13 years now, I no longer view them that way. As well, we eat our extra cockerels, and so have learned not to get too emotionally involved with them.


    Q: Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
    A: Not really, not.


    Q: Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
    A: No. The only time I took a chicken to a vet was to get some prednisone, as I could not purchase it myself. I knew more about the chicken than the vet did (not her fault), and was able to educate her about the problem my chicken was having (a Silkie with "crookneck.")


    Q: If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits?
    A: No.


    Q: Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog?
    A: If I were to take a chicken to a vet, yes. But it is not likely I will ever do so. I feel like I know more than most vets do about poultry, and know how to medicate sick ones if need be. The only thing I would be willing to pay for at this point is a post-mortem diagnosis, if needed.


    Q: Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner?
    A: Certainly not! A vet's time is worth money regardless of the perceived value of the creature being seen/treated.

    And for what it's worth, our younger daughter, who has been working with poultry since she was 7, is in the pre-vet program at the University of KY, studying to be a large animal vet. She will, of course, be able to treat poultry as needed (and we smiled because at one point last year she knew the answer to something the professor got wrong!)

    Bottom line, I think it would be worthwhile for some vets to learn more about poultry, bearing in mind that in many cases, (viral diseases for example), there is not much a vet can do except provide advice for palliative care. In many instances, by the time a chicken shows symptoms of illness, they are often beyond help (chickens tend to hide symptoms of illness, and so won't appear sick until they are VERY sick.)

    Laura Haggarty
    www.pathfindersfarm.com

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  10. I probably will never take a chicken to the vet (In the short time I've been a chicken owner, there hasn't been a need so far).


    I live in an urban area where people are small animal vets. I doubt anyone knows anything about chickens, although I haven't asked.



    If people choose to bring their chickens to the vet, I do believe they need to be willing to pay the vet for the cost of their time just as they would for any other animal they bring to the vet. Expecting a discount because chickens are relatively inexpensive to obtain is not fair to the vet who needs to earn enough income to maintain his/her practice and have an income.

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  11. Well. My first and foremost view is a harsh one, one that has been told to me over and over again by fellow farmers. If its sick and weak, do you really want it breeding with your stock and passing its weakness on to the birds you plan on keeping for food or for breeding? My answer? no... no I don't. I have found that the strong will remain while the weak fall, furthering only the lines of those who are strongest. So if you bring a bird to the vet, help it recover, you have a higher chance of passing what ever weakness caused it to be unable to fight off the problem onto there young. Which is why my blasted neighbors have been able to keep tons of mutt chickens without so much as a sniffle or a feather out of place...They breed based on health and the birds ability to fight things off and survive with as little medical interference as possible, giving them a super flock of nothing but healthy chickens.

    Which sadly I do agree with.

    If your keeping pet birds, simply for your own fun and you don't plan on breeding or selling the animals, then the reality is that vets are incompetent when it comes to poultry, and your best bet is to find an ancient poultry breeder who has dealt with birds all their life, and ask as many questions as you can. They're the ones who can help you the best. Chickens are not "important enough, or viable enough to bring home the bacon" (to quote the teacher of a large animal class I atended) for vets to become highly educated or interested, not to mention half of the vets who know something about chickens, have never even been around them outside of work. I recall my last encounter with a poultry vet; I taught them about my chicken and why I thought it was sick, and then I had to point out to them what exactly you treat them with, and where one would find that so they could inform another client that was coming in after me. I then had to go over with them and list all of the common poultry ailments that my bird could have had. biggest waits of my money in my life, and I still ended up loosing my poor little Skittles...

    Sad reality :( You literally have to become a vet by your own research and experience if you want to own chickens. and if not, then you either have to pull out your wallet for someone who may or may not know what there doing, or get ready to buy more birds down the road because you will loose them.

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  12. Maeve Robertson7/23/13, 4:35 PM

    Well I don't have chickens, (live in a townhouse with 3 greyhounds) however, if you value your chickens then you need to pay your vet the going rate for treatment of any animal the vet sees. Just because the chicken didn't cost much to buy, doesn't mean the chicken is easier to treat than a dog or cat. It takes as much of the vet's time as any other animal. (I'm not a vet either.)

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  13. Jessica Dunn Safonof7/23/13, 4:36 PM

    First, I view my backyard flock as livestock. I do not intend to keep them as pets beyond their laying years. With that said, I do wish there was a vet in our area that treated poultry. I don't have a lot of experience with chickens or their illnesses. I would like to be able to consult a vet in order to learn and make decisions about the care of my flock. I wouldn't bring them in for well visits but I would like to see lab services/ consultations for "strange" symptoms, irregular stools, suspected mites, and things like that. As well as perhaps phone consultations regarding illness and injury. I would be willing to pay for both in office and phone advice. I don't know that the price of acquiring a new animal should be the deciding factor in what they charge for services. I don't really know how a vet should decide what to charge for services rendered for poultry however, if they have a flat fee for their time that should definitely be honored.

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  14. Dorothy Malm (duknuk)7/23/13, 4:37 PM

    I view my girls as the domesticated fowl that they are and as a part of my family. I don't view them as livestock, since my girls only have two legs. I don't view them as pets, as they are hard working and contribute to my family's well being. I could never live without chickens. They are such a part of who I am, they are in every dream I have.

    There are some of my hens who have such spirit and personality that I will take them to the vet if I determine it will make a difference. I can't put a price on a life. It doesn't matter what I pay for a chick or juvenile bird. If each chick cost $100 would that make a vet's bill seem more affordable by comparison? I had my kids at home, didn't cost anything, but I still took them to the doctor when needed.

    Money means nothing to me in such a case. I view it as a tool to accomplish a task. As long as I can pay my bills, that's good enough.

    The vet is worthy of the price I pay. It costs far less for me to take a hen to a vet than for me to gain such an education.

    It took me a long time to find a chicken vet on Long Island (there are two I like ... Dr. Linda Pesek and Dr. Heidi Hoefer, practice located in Huntington, LI, NY - 631-424-0300).

    Still, I doubt I would take my girls for routine check-ups. Too many chickens. I spend time with them every day and observe them. Sometimes a chicken just has bad genetics and fails to thrive. Other times I can figure out what is wrong and whether or not I have the experience to treat the problem. I consider the age of the hen before making a decision to bring her to the vet.

    If I were financially hurting, as I was 40 years ago, I would not take my hens to a vet. In those days, we butchered. I never enjoyed it, but it ended a hen's suffering and my hunger. Meat was a rare meal for us then. Should I have to euthanize now, I do it with ether (using engine starting fluid). I no longer use the cleaver.

    I'm thankful I'm not that hungry or poor anymore. I value the life of every creature, and do all that I can for those under my care. I grieve for my girls when they are in the stages before passing and I miss them when they have gone. They are precious beings and deserve to be honored by my missing them. I remember nearly all my girls who have passed and there have been so many. Some I will remember forever.

    Thanks for letting me spout off.

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  15. Tina Wahl Gosnell7/23/13, 4:37 PM

    My back yard chickens are pets. I would take them to a vet in my area of they were knowledgeable about poultry and able to treat them. I would be willing to pay prices comparable to that of dogs or cat as the vets time, equipment used, & medications cost them the same no matter what. I would not take them to a vet if they were not knowledgeable about poultry, that would be a waste of money. I currently treat my own flock using medications purchased on the internet or Tractor Supply. I am a nurse, definitely not a vet out doctor.

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  16. We view our chickens somewhere between livestock, (me) and pets, (my husband). I got chickens for the fresh eggs, but have learned to appreciate their different personalities. They are fun and the eggs are delicious!
    I would not be willing to pay for well visits, nor would I want to pay the same for vet services that I would for a dog. Nor would I be willing to see any living thing suffer and so, would cull if necessary, though it has not been necessary yet.
    That being said....
    If I did take my chicken to a vet, I would expect to pay the same as any other animal. i am sure vets get into the business because they love animals, but it is still a business and they need to make their rent and draw a salary. They are charging for the procedures and time whether they are treating a $3 chicken or a $3000 dog or cat is irrelevant. You are using time that might be used treating an animal that pays more.....you can only do that so much before you are losing money.

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  17. i believe that my chickens should be regarded as any of the other animals within my family. we all serve a purpose in it, as such, my horses; trail ride, provide companionship, and do no other form of "livestock" production however, I spend a considerable dollar amount taking care of them. My chickens; produce eggs, are meat birds at times and also provide fun and entertainment to my girls and yes, I would pay the same amount at a vet if they were to fall ill as if it were a cat or other small domesticated house pet. I feel chicken vet care should be treated as any other "house bird", although you won't see me caging up a parakeet in my living room, my chickens may on occasion roam in to say hello and ask for dinner vegetable scraps! Our birds all have names as do our other animals...

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  18. Our family just began raising chickens this spring. We started with 11 hens (at least we're pretty sure they are all hens) from which we are just beginning to get a few eggs a day. As of right now, we consider them to be backyard poultry because we haven't had them very long and have yet to really get attached to them. They are cute, they are fun to watch, and they are just enough work to keep us busy but not so much that we will get overwhelmed by them. I know we have a lot yet to learn and we have already done a few re-designs of their pen and feeding stations (a.k.a ... learning from our mistakes). At this point, If one or more of them came down with illnesses, I don't think we would feel like we needed, or would be able, to go to extra ordinary measures for treatment. I know for a fact that we are financially unable to even if we wanted to. We are raising them to try to become a little more self sustaining and we are hoping to bring in a rooster at some point and hopefully have our little flock grow. I'm pretty sure that our local vets are not trained to provide extensive care to poultry even though there are many farms in our area. They are more geared toward large animal care (cows, horses, and maybe even goats).
    I've been following your blog for about a month now and it's very easy to see how attached you are to your flock. I love the diversity in breeds that you have and how each seems to have a distinct personality. I enjoy tuning in every day to see what's going on. It's more entertaining than afternoon soaps :-)
    The attached picture is of my daughter (she and her husband actually started our chicken project) and our little flock. We will need to revamp their house before winter comes. Do you have any suggestions on care for the birds during the cold months that we could start preparing for?

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  19. Darcy Salvadore7/23/13, 4:46 PM

    I view my chickens as pets with benefits. I would expect to approach their veterinary care on the same way that I do for my dogs. If a vet were competent, I would expect to pay a fair price for her expertise.

    Much of the debate about veterinary care for chickens seems to rest on the chicken keeper's philosophy. Here in California, chicken keeping is becoming quite trendy. As the rich and famous keep chickens in luxury coops, suburban people follow suit. These pet owners spoil their pets with spa treatments and rooms at the Four Seasons, it seems reasonable that they would want expert, luxury veterinary care for their new chicken pets. If the trend continues, it seems to me that a vet with a poultry practice could demand quite a bit for their services especially in the tonier areas across the United States.

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  20. Ruth Blough7/23/13, 4:46 PM

    Hi,
    I have about 20 chickens now and they are my pets,, all with names. I use the vet that I take my dogs and cats to. There is no vet near me that treats chickens. My vet and I try to figure out the problem and solve it. I am fortunate that he will help me when needed. He also will put down my chickens if we cannot fix the problem. I feel that, like you Kathy, they are my responsibility to care for properly and with love.

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  21. Do you view your backyard chickens as livestock, pets or something else? They are both.


    Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)? Yes. I am new to chicken-raising, and the folks at the feed store are helpful, but it would be nice to know I had somewhere to go for true emergencies.


    Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience? Only if I needed to humanely euthanize a bird. Otherwise, I'd want a vet with some chicken knowledge.


    If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits? maybe? I suppose it depends on the cost and what I could gain from the experience (feed recommendations, grooming/behavior tips, etc).


    Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog? depends. If the vet actually knows chickens and is not on a wild goose chase, sure. But I'm not about to throw money at a bunch of possible scenarios.


    Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner? No. I paid more for my chickens ($5 each) than I initially paid for my dog (a free rescue). However, I do have a different approach regarding vet bills for my chickens vs my dog. I am willing to spend more money to treat my dog if I know his quality of life is likely good after treatment, however I am more likely to euthanize a chicken than pay for costly treatment.

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  22. Rachelle Rohe7/23/13, 4:49 PM

    Veterinarians should not be expected to lower their costs because a chicken takes up just as much of their time and space in their office. If money were no object and a vet was willing and able, heck yes we would take them to annual check-ups. They are pets and they are also an investment. But there is no money right now for additional vet bills so we rely on websites like this one to help us care for them.

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  23. Elaine McVey7/23/13, 4:56 PM

    If there should be a chicken vet they should determine the fee based on the severity of the problem. The keeper of the chicken should realize the value of the chicken, be it a pet or a production hen. My hat is off to you chicken chick for taking such good care of Blaze. He's a very special rooster in deed. Thanks for posting and keeping us updated, and of course sharing your great chicken knowledge!

    Elaine McVey

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  24. Maria Campbell7/23/13, 5:02 PM

    I took the dogs to the vet today for their annual shots and I asked the vet why she didn't treat chickens. She said that she chose to join this practice partly because they did not treat barnyard animals or animals such as bunnies because, in her words, she didn't like "how they died a lot." She gave me the name of a vet who might treat chickens in the town about half an hour from my home (they will not). I told her that I respected her opinions but that small animals sometimes need vet care too and someone in her practice needed to take up this need. She said none of the other three vets would do it.

    This is why this website is so important. In the absence of professional medical care, sometimes we pet owners have to get by on what we can learn from other more experienced chicken owners. Yes, I love love the Daily Rachel and Blaze updates and the cute pictures of chickens and eggs on other websites. I get totally grossed out at the poo and abscess pictures but when my rubber is hitting the road and there is no one to turn to but I have to do "something," I'm going to be typing in the addy of the Chicken Chick.

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  25. ChickensInLangford7/23/13, 5:03 PM

    Great topic!!! Thanks for opening up this discussion. All of us, as backyard chicken owners, have the health of our flock in the back of our minds at all times. It is a happy day for me, when all three of my hens are perched on the roost, sleeping soundly at the end of the day. The moment one of them shows any signs of being 'off' or ill, I admit I begin to panic - I hate nothing more than to see any of them suffer because of a lack of knowledge on my part. Having a Vet that has experience with poultry is very important to me.

    1) Do you view your backyard chickens as livestock, pets or something else?
    **PETS.


    2) Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
    **YES. I happen to have one within a 40 minute drive and it is very comforting to know that there is someone available who sees poultry and can properly asses the health/condition of my chickens if the need arises.


    3) Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
    **No.


    4) If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits?
    **No, not for a routine checkup. I would only bring one of my chickens to a vet if I suspect something isn't quite right, or if I am certain there is an issue. I would however, not wait until it may be too late - I would bring them in immediately if I even suspected something was off.


    5) Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog? **Yes, it is an animal I have committed to care for. If the same tests are required - I would assume the same procedure is followed in acquiring lab results, so the same fees should be applied.


    6) Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner?
    ** No it is not fair to the practitioner to expect them to discount their fees because you paid so little for the chicken. This is something I am just willing to suck up.
    I am more than willing to pay for their expertise, knowledge, advice and recommendations. I adopted my cat for free, and I would never, ever expect a discounted fee from the Vet because I got my animal for free. An animal is an animal and Vets have a specialized skill-set, acquired from many years of school and training. If the veterinarian claims to know about poultry health, and is knowledgeable in that area, then I am more than happy to pay the posted fees.
    However, if a Vet does not claim to know anything about chickens, I would hesitate to take my hen to that Vet - because of the fees. I would expect if I pay the posted fees, that the vet I am seeing could provide appropriate care for the animal I bring in. I would have a problem paying the posted fees for an "Im not sure, I don't see many chickens...".


    For me it comes down to - 'Know Before You Go'. If the Vet doesn't claim to have experience with chickens, then I won't take my chickens to that Vet. I am willing to pay, if I am paying for the particular expertise I require, which in this case, would be poultry care.

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  26. Thank you for doing this. I am blessed to have a wonderful vet near by who routinely assists me with my chickens. This is a great topic and worthy of all of our attention. Thank you again.

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  27. Kathy, I started raising chickens for the eggs and for meat because my son has allergic reactions to anything store bought that is full of hormones and preservatives. He has no issues with anything "natural" so far - such as deer, turkey, hog - so this venture really started for his better-being. HOWEVER, as I have come to collect over 80 chickens thus far, I find that I have my favorites and have named several of them which will NOT be allowed to be dinner, but producers for further food. I have looked for a avian vet in my area to no avail, as I recently had a RIR hen with what I thought was the beginnings of bumblefoot (but no open sore) and was really nervous about the possibility of having to "operate" on her myself. I nursed her for over a week, soaking her foot in warm Epsom salt water and wrapping it with Neosporine (NO PAIN KILLER) twice a day. While the fever in her foot went away and SOME of the pinkness, it just wasn't getting better as I had hoped. Another chicken friend suggested PRID drawing salve, which I used, and my RIR is much better. I have learned some much about caring for my chickens from your web page, questions and answers, and reading up on other issues as I go. If there were an avian vet in my area, I would feel much better about illnesses in my chickens. However, I also do not have a padded wallet and would find it difficult to see a vet for non-emergencies, such as "well visits". I try to take good care of all of my babies and deal with the problems as they come up. I would hope that avian care would certainly not be MORE than regular veterinary care for my dogs; however, I also understand that this would be a specialty area. I hope I have contributed something to your blog, and thank you for all you have already taught me! :-)

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  28. Laura Johnson7/23/13, 5:11 PM

    Here are my 2 cents:
    I view my chickens as pets. However, I am not a vegetarian and I do eat chicken. So I actually feel my thoughts about chickens evolving the longer I have a backyard flock (I’m a newbie, just started in March!). As of now, I’m having problems balancing my wants to pay for treatment if there is a problem versus my hypocrisy of eating the same type of animal I want to save. Until I can tease all these feelings apart, I’m not sure I can address the other issues. For instance, how much am I willing to pay for treatment? My first thought is that I want to pay whatever it takes to make them well. How does that fit with eating other chickens? I think my future entails that I stop eating commercial chicken all together and switch to only eating pasture-raised chickens if at all (maybe even raise my own?). But I'm not quite there yet. I can say that I would like to know a veterinarian that could treat my chickens. I’m not sure I’d take them for well-patient visits. It is NOT fair for a veterinarian to charge less for chickens that may take the same time and supplies to treat. Most of all, people should not be judged based on their personal decision about treating chickens. Sorry for writing a novel in response!

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  29. Kris Grover7/23/13, 5:14 PM

    I view my flock of 14 as pets, and address their medical needs just as I do my two dogs and cat. However, a couple of years ago, when I was brand new to chicken raising, I had a sick hen, and couldn't find anyone to treat her. I was told to keep her comfortable, and hope for the best. My information came from the local feed store and I treated my sick hen myself. She did get better, and then died a few months later. I was heartsick. Since that time, I have learned SO much about the ins and outs, and what to, not to do. I keep a supply of meds on hand, and take good care of my hens. If I knew of a vet that treated hens, I would surely go to them!!!
    xo Kris

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  30. Barbara Thorbjornsson7/23/13, 5:29 PM

    I want to address how I classify my chickens. They are living beigs therefore, they deserve the very best I can do for them. Sometimes, that is quite a bit and, sometimes, no! I do tend to view them more as livestock than treasured pets but I am early into raising chickens and that could change. Having said this, all life is precious and I would never "jump" to cull.
    I would NOT bring a chicken to a vet if they knew nothing about chickens. I would bring the issue to you, Kathy and I would go on internet to learn all I could to help the chicken. I would do all n my power but I would not let a vet "practice" on my chicken.
    I would not bring my chicken into a vet for "well patient" exams.
    I believe that vets are trained to help all living animals; therefore, they should regardless of how much the person can pay, but I feel that way about dogs and cats. Vets deserve to be paid for their services but there are many times loving owners are milked or guilted to buy this and buy that until a person no longer wants to go to the vet for any reason. Rarely have I ever heard a vet recommend an "home remedy" when they know it will work This is my experience so no one needs to get angry and confront me.

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  31. I visited my local vet who also raises chickens prior to getting started in the chicken farming business. Because he treats birds, I naturally assumed he treated chickens as well. We started posting our vision for our flock on Facebook and the vet was (and still is) a friend on FB. We wanted to raise chickens for meat and eggs. He advised us not to have roosters, and not to have more than 8-12 birds. I suggested to him that he should take a "wait and see what happens" position as my husband had raised game birds in the past. He stopped commenting and posted on my page. About a month after we purchased our first 12 birds, we wen to a chicken swap and brought home 4 more. Two days later one of my original hens had symptoms of MSG (upper respiratory distress, gurgling, discharge). I called my vet and his daughter/assistant answered the phone, I explained what my concern was and she cut me off, saying that "my Dad does not treat chickens and I have no idea where you should go, maybe call Oregon State University" and hung up on me. I immediately went to your site, then to the local feed store, injected my hen with Duramycin and added it to the waterers for all. I saved my hen. Since then I have posted millions of pictures of my flock and their antics, now process poultry at other farms with my electric plucker, etc. My vet/friend has never published another picture of his flock or ever made a comment on my page about anything. I was a vet tech for twelve years. My daughter is an exotics vet tech.


    If I was a true veterinarian with an adversion to treating one genus or another I would make it known, not experiment on someone's bird not knowing if they were helping or hindering the patient. I was mad at my vet for a long time, although when I called him about three days after this event with his daughter and told him about the hen, he was aghast that he knew NOTHING about the phone call I had made, but also said he would not practice on anyone else's birds. I am thinking he would not want to jeopardize his own flock (who reside right next to the rural clinic).

    Since this episode last Fall, I rely on others such as yourself to help me doctor my flock. It is inconceivable to me that none of your vets that saw Mr. Blaze discovered the impaction in his wattle. Even peroxide on a cotton ball would have shown an infection and a good vet would then use due diligence to discover the source of the infection.

    You do all of us a huge service by sharing your triumphs and your hardships. It makes us all think we will survive the ups and downs of poultryhood as well.

    Please keep on your upbeat, informative path and congratulations on expanding your farm. Perhaps you might consider leasing flock space on the back forty to others who share your passion for birds.


    And as for those vets out there that live in your vicinity, perhaps you should hold a clinic for chicken lovers and fanciers and make sure all of them get an invitation. I would also invite college students studying veterinary and avian medicine. You would be doing them a huge service.

    Melissa

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  32. Becky Wells Weliczko7/23/13, 5:49 PM

    What a great idea..to have this open discussion. Since I am new to the chicken community...having got my first egg from my first four hens just this week...I do not have much to add in regard to vets. However, as an herbalist and pro-essential oil person, I will be looking further into this. If Frankincense can be used in humans to shrink cancer tumors and ovarian fibroids...I would believe the essential oils can be used in chickens. We already know a lot about using EOs for cats, dogs and horses. I used doTerra Frankincense (with lavender, cut with olive oil) on my one hen when she we badly pecked at. This and chicken armor made of duck tape helped her heal and she is totally healed. I look forward to hearing more from the group

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  33. Esther Maina7/23/13, 6:00 PM

    My chickens are backyard chickens for the eggs, the meat and for pets. I would not take them to the vet. However, I would be willing to pay for an online veterinary service that offers treatment suggestions and is willing to prescribe medications when needed. I try to use all natural remedies because we eat the eggs, but I did use an antibiotic for my rooster when he had what looked like an eye injury or worse. (I believe it may have been a bug bite -it cleared up in 3 days). The veterinary online site could be set up with rates for subscribing' and self-diagnosing at the low end and/or schedule appointments / emergency needs at a higher rate.

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  34. There is a term in the parrot world which I detest. "Throw-away birds" is what some people call parakeets because of their low initial cost. I find that a deplorable way to look at a life, yet I am probably in the minority. When my parakeets needed medical attention, I took them to my vet and did not expect a reduction in fees. I would feel the same way about chickens. Having them for their egg-laying years and then killing and eating them is heinous. If you're going do that, just buy your eggs at the store. Each chicken is an individual and deserves to be treated as such, as does each of my parrots. The idea of them being wonderful as long as it suits your needs but disposing of them when they no longer prove "useful" is a tremendous mark of disrespect to the animal. Unfortunately, that is what humans are best known for.

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  35. Tracy Thatcher7/23/13, 6:50 PM

    My chickens are pets and I do take them to the vet ($65/visit) when things are not right. I live in San Francisco and fortunately we have bird vets here and they do look at the hens. They definitely don't know a lot about them but I can see as people raise more chickens here in the city that they will be studying up. I have passed your website on to their office hoping they will learn more. Your site is very important Kathy, thanks so much for putting the time in to keep it active with fantastic photos for all of us to learn.

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  36. This topic is extremely exciting. I lost a chicken to unknown reasons in the course of a day about a week ago and have had one chicken doing well, then not doing so well. With no chicken vet within 6 hours, there is a major need in our area for an avian vet.

    Q: Do you view your backyard chickens as livestock, pets or something else?
    A: My backyard hens are definitely (productive) pets. I'm attached to their personalities and would not consider eating them.

    Q: Is it important to you to know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
    A: Absolutely.

    Q: Would you bring a chicken to see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
    A: No. How do I know they would be able to help my bird if the vet did not have experience? The vet may have access to antibiotics, but would not know when to use them.

    Q: If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits?
    A: Probably not. I don't bring my dogs to well-patient visits and administer their annual vaccinations myself, but I have a Vet Tech background.

    Q: Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog?
    A: Provided the vet is experienced, abolutely. Would love to have a vet with chicken experience.

    Q: Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner?
    A: No way! My dogs were FREE and I certainly do not expect their treatment to be free. I would be willing to pay fair market value for an experienced vet's services.

    Sunshine

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  37. My flock of four are definitely closer to pets than livestock. However, I am on an extremely limited-income, and well-vet visits are a fantasy at best. I wouldn't let an animal suffer, but I can't afford to take my grown son (who is still living at home while in school) to the doctor, so how on earth can I justify taking a chicken in? I will do my best to provide my girls with a healthy, happy life, and be grateful that at least I know they will have a better time and longer life than most little chickens have. They certainly won't go in the pot the moment they aren't laying, either.

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  38. Kathy, I think that editing this article and putting numbers by the questions would really help readers answer them and follow the conversation. They could simply put a number and then their answer, rather than having to re-state the question so that everyone knows which one they're answering.

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  39. I have a flock of about 30 chickens, I have taken them to the vet in the past. It's finding a vet to treat them that is hard. Mine are strictly pets. We enjoy the eggs and share them with friends and family. We will keep them as long as they live, whether they lay or not. Some of mine have lived 12 to 13 years. We had to leave them for a few days when we had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita a few years ago, I was so worried about what I would find when I came home. We had damage to our house and fences but not only were all the chickens fine, there was an extra. Not sure where it came from but it moved in with my flock and is still here.

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  40. Maria Carstensen7/23/13, 7:40 PM

    I see my chickens as pets that give me eggs. I would definitely take them to a vet if needed. I would love to know of a vet in the San Antonio area that would see chickens!

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  41. carol tarzwell7/23/13, 7:48 PM

    I currently have 24 chickens, Most of them I would consider to be livestock and if they had a mild to moderate problem I would treat it if I could but I wouldn't be willing to pay for a vet visit. That being said I have a few that are more pet than livestock and for those chickens I would be willing to have them evaluated and treated by a vet. I would not utilize a vet for well chicken care. I do believe if a vet sees and treats a chicken that they are entitled to charge the same as they would for a cat or dog.

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  42. AngelEyes897/23/13, 7:49 PM

    We have a great Vet here in town that will treat anyhting..not just chickens, but he is very educated on chicken care and has his own flock. He is also very reasonable....an all around wonderful person. Yes I have taken my chickens to him...routine fecals, as well as emergencies before. I would never let any of my "pets" suffer whether they lay eggs, or sleep on my couch all day. The chickens just happen to live in their own house:)

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  43. Sherri Palmer7/23/13, 8:26 PM

    My chickens are pets. It will be a nice bonus when they lay eggs. Their lives have as much value as any of the others animals in my care. That they were only a few dollars each is irrelevant - do people just kill a sick dog if they got it for free??I am hoping that living in a very agriculture-dominated area that I will be able to find help if needed. I'd go to any vet if I had to but would absolutely go to someone who worked with chickens. I fail to see how people could view animals other than individual lives of value. But I'm a vegetarian so I also don't quite get eating them in the first place.

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  44. When I started with my 8 chicks I thought they would be pets. But after processing our roosters, raising meat chickens, purchasing more chicks, breeding and hatching my bcms there was a switch flipped in my head and now I consider the majority of my flock livestock. I do consider my Polish hens pets and they will live out their lives on my farm. As my laying flock ages I will sell or process them and purchase more female chicks for the laying coop. I will continue to breed and sell my bcms and my Tolbunt Polish. I will treat illnesses as they arise myself to the best of my abilities but I wouldn't take any of my chickens to a vet and I work for one. (Large animal vet) If I did take them to a vet I would expect to pay whatever the vet would normally charge, I would not expect a cheaper price based on the original cost of the animal. I keep chickens for eggs and meat , also to breed and sell chicks and hatching eggs to pay for feed and coop/run improvements and yes for the enjoyment for watching their antics. They live a good life on my farm they are happy, well fed and have plenty of room to roam. But ultimately they will not see a vet for illnesses like my dog, cats or horses would. Right or wrong its how I feel

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  45. I think chickens should be treated by a chicken specialist. Not necessarily a vet. but a person who is knows enough about chickens to provide affordable services.

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  46. Allison Adams7/23/13, 10:17 PM

    So my chicks aren't here yet (2 wks), but if I know myself they are going to be pets with benefits. I've already talked to my vet and he has limited experience with chickens but is willing to try. I may suggest an online course and get him his own copy of The Chicken Health Handbook. Another vet I called referred me to a fellow who works at a pet shop, but apparently knows a lot about birds in general. I don't think I'll pay for well visits, but the first sign of something off, they'll get the attention needed. The fees should be the same-my dog and 3 cats were free and I don't expect their treatment to be free! So the consensus is "Yay to chicken vets".

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  47. I don't count on vets for help. The Kaneohe feed Store where I buy feed has a very knowledgeable staff as they have many year of experience raising chickens and game birds. They also stock medicines specific for treatment of Chickens and other farm animals. I recently had a hen with Fowl pocks which they diagnosed and sold me the required medication and told me how to treat the bird..Success. The same hen also came down with
    Coccidiosis which I diagnosis based on symptoms she had that were indicated on www.ehow.com I can a Local Vet that treats birds as the Feed Store was closed for the Weekend. I ask them if they carried the medicine to treat Coccidiosis and how much it would cost for 1 hens treatment. They told me that I would have to bring the bird in to see the Vet first $60 appt. and he would determine the course of treatment. I said I already knew what problem was and that I just needed the cure. The reply was sorry we can't sell you the medicine unless the Vet Prescribes it. I decided to wait a day and buy the medication at the feed store which cost me $20 and was enough to treat a regular chicken farms flock as opposed to just 1 hen but it was worth and I treated all my birds as a precaution and I have a lifetime supply of the medicine left over. Another source of good information is a local wild bird rehab facility or organized group.

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  48. There have been a few times I have wished to take one of my girls to a vet but the cost prohibits that. I don't begrudge the amount vets charge since they have to go to school for a lot longer than a human doctor since they have to learn so many different body systems. I just don't have the money so I do what I can. The times that I really wish I could go to a poultry vet is when it comes to the infectious diseases. I worry that I might be wrong about what I think could be ailing a sick chicken, thinking it is an isolated case when it is something like avian flu. At those times I would take a chicken to a vet just to be assured that what is wrong will not go through the whole flock.

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  49. Dawn Gonzalez7/23/13, 11:01 PM

    I view my chickens the same way "Ellen" does - somewhere between livestock and pets. That being said, I feel it is my duty to provide the best possible care to my girls. I will not allow them to suffer so they will either receive medical care if reasonable or I wil have them euthanized if they can't be treated within reason. Recently I noticed that one of my girls, Daisy, had a large swollen area on the bottoms of both of her feet. I never felt I needed a vet before, but I thought she probably had bumble foot and I am not comfortable doing something as invasive as cutting into a chicken's feet to remove infection. I did some research on line and found out that a vet in my area provides care for chickens. I did not hesitate to make an appointment to get Daisy's feet checked. I was pleased to learn that the condition was not bumble foot, but calluses that built up over time. I gladly paid for the exam, which was around the same amount I would have paid for one of my dogs. I also received a wealth of information from the vet including the fact that in Florida chickens should be de-wormed monthly. I was thrilled to learn that this vet even carried the de-wormer and was able to provide me with enough for several months treatment for all 6 of my girls for a reasonable price. Even though I am not willing to take all of my girls to the vet for wellness visits, I feel that I now have a vet that can treat any issues that are beyond my expertise and comfort level and that he is knowledgeable enough to teach me how to keep my flock happy and healthy.

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  50. I have a very small flock of four hens. They are definitely pets...I don't even like eggs! My husband and our friends and family enjoy the benefits of the girl's hard work.

    Two of my hens have been to the vet-AFTER I found a vet willing to see them. One for bumblefoot and one for a respiratory (myco?) illness.


    Antibiotics are not available at feed stores in the UK-they must be prescribed by a vet...so really, there's a choice of culling, or a vet visit if meds are necessary.

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  51. This is a relevant conversation for me as I recently took my Guinea Hen to the vet because she became ill. After almost a week of seeing if she could overcome it on her own, it came down to certain death or medical intervention. I called my local large animal vet and he referred me to a vet who treated small animals, birds and exotic pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, etc... This vet treated her with the utmost respect and care. He was also respectful of my budget and gave me the option of a blood screen to assess her total health but recommended that I stick with a simple test to determine the offending bacterium causing her illness (which was a respiratory condition). With that identified he gave her an antibiotic injection and sent me home with oral medication. The hen recovered nicely and then repaid my grace and kindness by running away once she was let back out of confinement. She was spotted a few days later but then disappeared for good. We suspect she (and her mate) eventually were taken by coyotes. So, in the end for this hen the time and money were wasted, but I decided when we set up our small ranch, that within reason, each animal on our will be given my best effort. I did not see treating a respiratory condition as unreasonable and I learned a lot during the vet visit that will help me identify the condition earlier in the future thus giving me the opportunity to intervene and avoid vet care altogether. I am glad to know that this vet is available and happy to treat avian patients. Interestingly, he is also a marine biologist who specialized in Octopi, so he made it known to his waiting room audience that if anyone had a sick octopus, that he was the guy to see! (He only brought this up because the waiting room crowd had started a conversation about the latest National Geographic episode about squid.) Would I enlist a vet again for a bird? Yes, but only if I thought the situation beyond my ability to handle on my own. A well exam for poultry is out of the question though as I find that unnecessary and excessive for avian livestock. For those who chose to do so however I will happily applaud your dedication to your flock and have the utmost respect.

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  52. Kathy Moving on to the Past7/24/13, 6:23 AM

    I took my Special Needs chick to a vet but I had to look around. I was at first referred to a vet that specialized in exotic birds but it would have been extremely expensive to just walk in the door - my bird was not sick, I just needed some guidance on trimming his beak and felt more comfortable with someone watching as I did it. Then I remembered a vet on a local radio show so I called him and he asked me to come in (free) and we'd walk through it together. I was so pleased with the vet and the care that I donated the fee to his rescue fund and set up an account with him. He is trained in not only dogs and cats but also exotic animals and has worked with zoos. I will bring my birds to him if they are the pet chicks and expect to pay the full fee - one patient is the same as another. For the meat birds that we intend to start I would not.

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  53. Deborah Paterson7/24/13, 6:28 AM

    I have to agree with Ellen. I have grown to care very much for my chickens and have done put good effort in to their safety and care. Beyond this I have to agree with Ellen. I do not run a full farm that would have a vet out to check multiple types of animals to bundle care. A vet has bills like the rest of us they spent time and effort to learn their trade and earn our trust when we come to them, they deserve to be paid for their services. I would never expect cut rate fees from a top rated vet.

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  54. I would love to have a farm animal vet in my vicinity!

    I plan to put my daughter through vet school and she has promised that chickens will be cared for in her practice.

    Large animal vets can be found- but what's the deal with chickens? Are they so disposable that they aren't worth the trouble? These creatures may be small and insignificant to some people- but my family and I have developed a deep respect for their lives. We adore our chickens, they are far more than just livestock-They provide us with healthy eggs every single day to feed our family as well as several others, and they provide hours of entertainment too. Since we got our chickens last year, the experience has given my children a healthy sense of respect and responsibility for another living being. We feel they have tremendous worth. So, Yes, I would pay for well chicken visits and when they are sick as one is now, I would pay to have a vet help out with her.

    My belief is that when you take the responsibility for any living creature and ask that creature to provide you with a service or food, then you have an absolute responsibility to care for that animal as you would anyone else who is dependent on you.

    Just my thoughts... I don't judge

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  55. Christie Padova7/24/13, 11:19 AM

    Our chickens (we have 30) are our pets and as such, we take them to the vet when they are injured or sick. We are lucky and have one of the few bird-savvy vets in the state of Virginia near us.

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  56. Mary Lynn Durfee7/24/13, 11:43 AM

    My chickens are livestock (for eggs) and pets, because they are living beings with emotional needs as well as physical needs that I have "caged" for my well-being and thus owe that to them in return.

    Yes, it is important to have a vet who knows how to treat chickens or at least a local farmer who will give advice he/she learned from her grandparents and parents. :) Perhaps a forum that honors them and invites them into our circles.

    I have brought my chickens to a vet who doesn't have chicken experience - Dr. Newsome at Blairsville Animal Hospital. She has reduced costs because she is learning. She consults with other vets out of the area who know more than she does. She does everything she can to help. She charged me $105 for an office visit, x-rays and a sonogram on my sick hen, Jasmine. $75 for my rooster Peck. Both of whom are still sick.

    If a chicken vet practiced medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for well-patient visits? I don't go to the doctor when I'm well and I probably would not take my pets to the doctor for well-patient visits.

    Are you willing to pay the same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat or dog? No, they should be reduced because the vet is learning because the entire industry is way behind concerning chickens and no where near as equal to the science of treating dogs and cats.

    Do you believe that the negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner? No, many dogs and cats are free - that should not weigh on the costs. I believe the reason their fees should be discounted is for the reason above in the previous question - the lack of science and knowledge. Any decent vet would do this. I did not ask my vet to discount the fees, she offered because she's honest.

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  57. My thoughts are that vets have to charge what the market will dictate for their services, I live in the middle of nowhere and my vet charge me $300 for a surgery on my dog that the big college hospital in a big city an hour away wanted to charge $1500 for. I would not take my chickens to a vet for well care. However, if one were sick beyond my knowledge I may go just to make sure this was not going to wipe out my flock. This being said, many people in the "city" will spend way more money on a dog's vet visit, then us in the "country". I am sure it would be the same with chickens.
    In my opinion, what would be most beneficial, is a vet who would take phone calls, (and yes, charge for them). There are many ways this could be accomplished, Perhaps on a website with transcripts with a subscription? I am just throwing out ideas.
    Another issue with vets seeing poultry is biosecurity. Sicknesses transfer so easily with our animals.

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  58. Q: Do you view your backyard
    chickens as livestock, pets or something else?
    A: My chickens are pets, same as my dog or cats.

    Q: Is it important to you to
    know that there is a veterinarian available who will treat your chicken(s)?
    A: Yes, and I do have some names of local vets that might treat chickens, though I haven't visited any of them yet.

    Q:Would you bring a chicken to
    see a vet if they did not have chicken training/experience?
    A: Yes, if they did have some Avian experience.

    Q: If a chicken vet practiced
    medicine in your community, would you bring your chickens to them for
    well-patient visits?
    A: Probably not just because I'm financially strapped right now, though if I had the money I probably would. Right now my financial situation is such that none of my pets are up to date on their well-pet visits.

    Q:Are you willing to pay the
    same exam and treatment fees for your chickens that you would pay for your cat
    or dog?
    A: Yes, the process isn't that different for the Vet, nor does he use less time and equipment so I'd expect the charges to be the same.

    Q:Do you believe that the
    negligible cost of purchasing a chicken means that vets should discount their
    fees? If so, is that fair to the practitioner?
    A: If you get a free kitten, should the vet fees be different than if you paid a breeder for a purebred cat? I don't think the cost of the animal should be a factor in what a vet charges for their care. I would hope my vet doesn't give better treatment to a showdog than they do a family mutt. So the charges should be the same since they require the same amount of time, equipment and expertise of the veterinarian.

    Overall I was quite shocked at how few vets will treat chickens, but understand that the 'pet' chicken is a relative newcomer to the pet keeping scene. I'm sure people who own exotic animals have the same vet issues as us chicken keepers. Too bad I hadn't stuck with my dream to go to vet school, or I could probably have some happy clients if I worked with chickens!

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  59. Marie@RuralLivingToday7/24/13, 12:50 PM

    I strongly agree that this is a dialogue to begin! We raise chickens as livestock (for eggs and meat) yet we also give them respect for what they give us, and we give them TLC when they need it. We've had several in isolation from time to time while we treat them for wounds or try to rejuvenate a listless hen. We have not found a nearby vet that treats chickens or can give advice. We have a vet tech in our family who had very little avian medicine training, but we would pay to get her some continuing education if we could find it! For now she is educating herself online. There is actually a free webinar tonight in fact! http://thewebinarvet.com/chicken/ I heard about it from The Chicken Vet https://www.facebook.com/ChickenVet. Here is another resource for self-education: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts_waddl/avian.aspx.

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  60. GA mini farmer7/24/13, 12:56 PM

    I totally agree that we could all use a lot more educational resources to help us diagnose and treat our flocks. Well-educated vets are one way to go, but for some of us who are trying to keep our flocks healthy while keeping the costs of maintianing our flocks low, taking them to the vet is probably not going to be a cost effective option. I have learned to do a lot of my own vet care, even doing the vaccinations that are not required by law to be given by a vet. The more I know, the less I need to depend on my vet, the more money I save in the long run, and the more resources I have to be able to provide healthier food choices for my animals. There are always going to be illnesses and injuries that are beyond our individual level of knowledge or expertise, and for that, we need to have educated vets who know what to do and can recommend. So, in my opinion we need additional educational resources and vets who are educated in caring for chickens to help us handle those things we are not equipped to handle ourselves.

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  61. I have taken a chicken to the only vet in the area willing to see her! And would willing take the others. But I only have 6. I will pay for the same basic care that I do for my other animals and myself.

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  62. Mary Nickerson7/24/13, 2:07 PM

    I would and have done everything and anything to save my girls even my really mean Roo. They are more then just my egg producers. I am a believer that no matter what animal you own you owe it to be its complete care taker. After all a Happy Healthy animal will give you so much in return.

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  63. teresaredmondott7/24/13, 2:26 PM

    Our flock is most definitely part of our family and are PETS. I have a long history of treating them for various illnesses/conditions with a couple of vets who know about the chicken species. I had to find them the hard way; in the beginning seven years ago, most vets said they'd "take a look at them" even though they had no knowledge about the species. This was extremely costly to us and it was completely unethical of the vets since they knew nothing about the species. Fortunately, I know a owner of an parrot aviary who directed me to the vets that actually are certified avian vets. Since then, it has been such a relief to have our "Darlings" have the proper care they deserve. We have no problem paying for vet care IF they have knowledge.
    Here, in Fort Collins, CO, we have a well respected vet school, CSU's Vet Teaching Hospital. Even so, they explained that more research is needed for chicken health with the backyard PET chicken keeping movement. In our town, I helped revise zoning which had restricted "livestock" within city limits. Since I was living proof of PET chicken keeping (we're just over city limit's line), the ordinance passed based on removing the label of livestock to pets.
    This has worked beautifully, since most people do not value animals labeled "livestock" vs. pets. In town, to keep sanitation standards up to par, one MUST treat these beautiful creatures as pets. Therefore, CSU VET teaching hospital has seen a sharp rise in folks truly, properly caring for their backyard companions. We even have a vet that will euthanize sick ones, just like any other family pet.
    We, personally, have a long record of vet visits at CSU. But we're not the only ones. It's time for us who truly see these birds as sentients to speak up for their needs. I really appreciate your calling attention to this topic...I agree it needs to be addressed. THANK YOU!

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  64. teresaredmondott7/24/13, 2:31 PM

    All Creatures, great and small, are deserving of love and life. All are created by the same Creator.

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  65. I should add that vets are paid for their time and experience, not the value of the animal they are treating. I don't think they should charge less for chickens, or any small, inexpensive animal.

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  66. tiffanyincali7/24/13, 3:00 PM

    We see our three ladies as pets with the add bonus of fresh eggs daily. I would take them in for routine annual health exams if I knew of a vet that did those. When my girls stop laying eggs (they just started a few weeks ago), they will retire and just enjoy the yard the same way they do now. I would take them to the vet, and expect to pay the same fees I do for my dog, if one of them were ill, to protect the other two, and for her own comfort, and to hopefully prolong her life.

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  67. I would do everything I can for an injured or sick chicken (or duck, guinea, etc) but am unlikely to take it to a vet. I do, however, think that there are enough chicken owners who think of their birds as more like pets that the future of veterinary medicine may have to include treatment of backyard chickens. Those vets should not be expected to charge less for one small pet than they would for another, however. I have a dog that is about the same size as my chickens. Size has nothing to do with it. A vet charges for their education, experience, etc. and if they go to the trouble of training themselves to treat chickens, they should expect to charge accordingly.

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  68. Sallyintucson7/24/13, 3:18 PM

    I'm new to keeping chickens (my pullets are about 4 months old). The last time I had chickens was in 4-H in the "70's. (oops gave away my age there) I view them somewhere in between pets and livestock. Livestock or not, any animals under my ownership deserve to be well cared for.
    Would I pay the same fee that I do to take my dogs to the vet? Of course. The vet's time is worth the same regardless of the type of animal. BUT the vet has to know what they're doing or it will be a waste of time for both of us.
    Forget the well patient visits. For many vets that's just a way to make extra $. Mind you, I used to work for a vet doing what I call "grunt work" so I can usually tell if a vet visit is truly needed or not. I give my dogs their annual shots (You can buy them at any pharmacy in my state) but have to go to a vet for the rabies to be legal.
    I will have to have someone show me how to give a chicken a shot as I've never done that before.
    Bottom line - yes, I'll pay the same for a vet visit but again, the vet has to be schooled in poultry.
    Question: I know of a vet in my town who specializes in parrots. Would this vet know enough to deal with chickens?

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  69. Flock Mistress7/24/13, 4:24 PM

    I tend to keep my vet visits to myself. I've been harshly criticized by some who think it's a waste of money. And I don't judge others on how they spend theirs and don't appreciate them tell me otherwise. My vet is an avian specialist and not a chicken specialist. And yes, I've felt I knew more than they did at times. But in general, they are full of useful info and very nice to me. I'm a city girl and just don't have the ability to do things to my hens that others can. I had one who was clearly not right with the world and needed to be put down. The vet charged me $16 and even wrapped her up special and keep her in their fridge over a long weekend till I could collect her and send her to UC Davis for a necropsy. I know some wouldn't dream of spending $16 on something they could do for free but I could never do it. And for me, it was the best $16 I ever spent. They even sent home a lovely sympathy card.

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  70. Hi. Our chickens are part of the family. We have had very good experiences with the UCDavis Small Animal Clinic. We had to euthanize 2 of our girls last year and the vet staff was knowledgable and caring.

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  71. Lynn Fisher Clark7/24/13, 5:45 PM

    Any time I purchase an animal I consider it a pet. Although I purchased chicks so I could have fresh eggs, my intent was to care for them to the best of my ability.... I love them tremendously..My 4 chicks are 3 mos. old now and it frightens me to think that if they get sick I may not have a Vet that is experienced enough to care for them. And yes, although my husband and I are on a limited budget, we are willing to pay out to keep our chickens well unless they have a terminal sickness and are suffering with no cure in sight. In that case I would want assisted help from a Vet to put them down. Hoping to see a change in the near future with more experienced Vets in the Avian field.

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  72. Felicia Breen7/24/13, 6:01 PM

    Being allowed only a small number of birds in a urban flock it is hard to not allow them to become precious and at a "pet" status. I feel if I had more some would still retain the pet status and others would fall into a livestock category.

    I too have had trouble finding vets that will treat chickens, and fewer vets that have any avian experience. I agree that so many are getting backyard flocks and there is little access to care. I have found a few brave folks whom are willing to treat chickens. It is at the same cost as any other pet. I am a small business owner and I realize that the cost to be a business and have a door open to the public is very high.

    If you don't have a dog or cat you have a exotic pet. I have paid the big bucks for my turtle and guinea pigs. Chickens fall into the "exotic animal" category cost at a veterinary practice. I have had to put a guinea pig to sleep and a chicken to sleep because I could not afford the $800.00 surgery for them. If the chances for survival were better I might consider it. It would have been a tough decision if I had a dog that had the same expensive surgery.

    I realize there is little flexibility in the cost. Acknowledging that veterinary care is a "practice" and that you can't have an animal literally tell you how they feel, I feel better about spending the money with a vet that has more experience and treatment options positive or negative. I feel a little ripped off when they can only observe an animal, or cannot take a stab at any diagnosis or offer no treatment plan. There have been some offices I paid the fee to be seen and could have not bothered.

    Over trial and error I have managed to find a vet that was fantastic for the guinea pigs and turtle, and he is also avian vet. This being said it is not based on all of my cases ending up with the animal surviving either. I felt that I had excellent care, that the vet was competent, we had reasonable diagnosis to base our decisions on, and options. The downside is he will not allow chickens in his office and fears the possibility of cross contamination for his clients with parrots. Bummer! So currently I am back to the drawing board as far as treatment for my chickens.

    I wish there were some more in depth classes or workshops that one could take to learn some basic veterinary care and procedures to deal with more at home. A video in the internet is nice but some hands on learning or in depth discussion would be more well rounded. This would hopefully also educate one to also know when it is out of the home treatment plan and needs to move into more professional hands. This could offer big saving on unnecessary office visit fees.


    I have bought my chickens as hatchery stock since I am under the impression that is less likely way to introduce disease into your flock. I am wondering if the health and quality of the animal would be better through a breeder, but being a novice I would have a hard time telling quality stock for non-quality. There does not seem to a rating system to make it easier to know where to go. It also seems based a lot on your personal philosophy of stock and maybe not science based?

    Something will have to give into demand. So many people have chickens now! It seems like in Europe they have so many more options and vets and over the counter remedies compared to hear.

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  73. I'm willing to pay a vet for services. In fact, I did pay for a necropsy recently. I could have bought a whole new flock and then some for the price, but I wanted to know what went wrong. Vets go to school for a long time and have lots of student loans. Not to mention the hard work of school itself. Unfortunately, most vets do cats and dogs. Probably because they have to in order to financially support themselves. My vet admitted he doesn't know chickens. He's not that good with my sheep either, but I don't know of any good farm vets. I get more useful information off the internet, sadly. Trial and error is another way I learn. Did you know you can cure sour crop in chickens with monistat? I learned that from other chicken owners and my vet didn't have any suggestions.

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  74. My couple of backyard chickens are pets. It is important to know that I can obtain veterinary care for them just as I would any other pets, but my experiences have been bad - the vet's accept the appointment (which I have specified is for a hen) and do not tell me "they don't treat birds" until after I have arrived, already wasting precious time and collecting a consultation fee. The only bird vet in the Capital city where I live is a long way off and I don't drive - it would be another $60 for a taxi each way, or about 3 hours of public transport each way - I would dearly love to have somewhere to go that was closer.



    If I had an option that was close I would bring in a sample flock member once a year for a general check up. This was recommended by out "local" bird vet) and bring in stool samples.


    I would LOVE to pay the same fees for chooks as for my cats! here the bird vet is many more times as expensive, plus the travel plus the fact that mostly very little can be done for serious conditions.


    I don't think the vet fees should be negligable, but I think they should be in line with other vet care, not outrageously and prohibitively expensive. When taking into account vet care costs a factor is not so much the price payed for the pet but the likely length of life remaining after treatment and quality of life.


    With chooks tending to have fairly short lifespans comparative to dogs and cats, and the likelihood of various illnesses carrying them off in their later years it becomes harder to justify a large cost.

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  75. RosehillTexas7/24/13, 9:37 PM

    Local bird stores are a good source of information regarding veterinarians able to treat birds.

    I am fortunate to live within an hour's drive of Texas A & M which has an excellent avian department that I have used on occasion. I don't have a problem taking a sick chicken to a vet and have done so with good results and without spending exorbitant amounts of money.

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  76. I am not new to poultry raising, but it has been many years since I have kept any. It is upon the chicken keeper's shoulders to learn as much about the the animals they are interested in, & to study carefully what the requirements are as well as the things that can go wrong. There are no 5-minute experts. Just because Granny had chickens doesn't mean we should. That said, many of us really should have a small flock, even if it is only a couple of chickens for the fun of it & a few eggs. We need to look at these feeds for information, ask questions, & most of all, listen to advice given. We can learn a lot from each other. My little flock is only 4 sweet ladies, & that is enough for me. Others want more. Point being--we all have something to offer.

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  77. Deb Brauneller Berning7/24/13, 9:49 PM

    My chickens are to provide us with meat and eggs. I can't afford to become a nursing home for old hens, sick, or badly injured ones. There's no vet and I wouldn't take them anyway as I have bills to pay and need food, etc. Kudos to those that can find a vet and afford it. I only take cats to the vet for being fixed or euthanizing. if too ill the latter applies. I give my animals the best care I cna and they're treated with respect and love while here till they go to the Rainbow Bridge. I'm so glad Blaze is doing better and have learned a lot from your posts. keep up the good work.

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  78. My chickens are part of the family. When my chicken developed prolapse, I was lucky enough to have a vet that took care of chickens. But I know that more vets have no training at all with chickens. I did not mind paying the vet for her expert care. I would not take my chickens in to her for well visits though.

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  79. Linwood Windsor7/24/13, 11:34 PM

    There is no wrong answer. If your chicken is a pet, thus pay the vet the same as for your cat or dog. If the vet comes to your flock thus the same as for your horse, cattle. my choice, will this condition prevent a marriage with Anne's dumplings as replacements are around the corner

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  80. Stella was such a beautiful lady, can you please tell me her breed?
    Love your blog it always joyful and uplifting and brings a smile.
    Thank You
    Karen

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  81. My chickens are pets,even after they have finished laying,they will still be my pets. I love them as much as i do my dogs/cats,and they receive the same medical treatment as my dogs/cats if they are ill.

    I do not expect any discount for my chickens. My opinion is that if a vet has taken the time to be educated in medical issue regarding chickens,then he/she has the right to charge for any medical care they provide. I will gladly pay to ensure they are receiving the best care possible. When a dog or cat is ill,it is expected that they will receive vet care. I would like to see the same thinking applied to chickens. They are animals also,and deserve to be treated with the same care and compassion,that we show cats and dogs.


    I do believe that anyone wishing to become chicken keepers,needs to educate themselves.I personally purchased books,read anything and everything i could find,regarding chickens a year in advance so that i would be knowledgeable on any issues regarding their care.

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  82. peartreehens7/25/13, 7:00 AM

    our hens are definitely more than livestock, probably not quite on the same footing as the dog, but certainly well above the fish. We don't breed them--we can't legally have roosters in our area, and don't have the space or inclination to breed anyway--we just like the eggs and the funny chickenness of them. We live in an urban area (about two miles from the center of downtown in our state's capital city). Our dog's vet is fantastic, but she doesn't see chickens. She did, however tell me that someone brought one in that'd been attacked, and she emergently sewed her back up (nice to know it's at least an option). She recommended an "exotics" vet in the area who sees chickens. We haven't been to her yet (haven't had the need), so I can't speak for her abilities.

    While I wouldn't pay for well-chicken visits, I would love to have a poultry-aware vet I could go to for vaccinations, minor surgical issues (within reason--survivable attacks, but that's all I'd treat for), and euthanasia etc. I would absolutely expect to pay the same as I'd pay for any other pet to be vaccinated/treated/euthanized. It would also be great to have someone local, who could physically examine a chicken, and tell me if whatever new thing going on is a variation on normal, a survivable process, or Bad News, and how to go about caring for the chicken if I choose not to euthanize.
    thanks for the discussion!

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  83. Mary Lou Burke7/25/13, 8:23 AM

    We are lucky here in Chesapeake, Virginia, to have a local veterinarian who treats "exotics" and is competent: Dr. Poutous at Midway Veterinary. But taking our pet chickens to him isn't cheap. We took three birds to him last spring for a full check-up, fecal tests, and deworming. The bill was over $200.00. Now that our flock has grown to five hens, I fret at how to afford good medical care for all of them. Dr. Poutous will work with us. He says we can bring in two birds from our flock, and he can examine them and prescribe wormers or meds for the rest of the flock based on the results for those two.

    The fact that replacement chickens are cheap does not factor into the equation for me. We have gotten our rescued dogs or cats either free from members of the public or inexpensively from animal shelters, but they still get premium pet food and expensive medical care, starting with spaying or neutering. Why should *pet* chickens be different just because they supply us with eggs?

    Of course, when I think of what I pay in terms of cost per egg, I think I'm not being very practical, but it's what makes us happy. Please keep in mind we are not breeders but simply keepers of residential pet hens. I personally can't stand to see any animal suffer and know I will take them to the doctor if it is sick. So far we have been blessed and all our birds have been healthy.

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  84. I currently have 3 backyard hens, one of whom is living in my kitchen due to a burst abscess. They get organic feed and warm oatmeal and lots of produce treats. I will do what I can to help my sick chickens... by now I have a fairly well-stocked first aid kit and a fair amount of knowledge regarding common chicken issues... but I will *never* pay to take them to a vet. We have certain financial goals as a family, and investing for college and remaining debt free takes precedence over vet care for a $15 chicken. There is just no contest. When we retire to our 'forever' home, the plan is to allow older hens to live out their years pecking contentedly... I won't cull them b/c they are past their prime, so I guess my view is they are somewhere between livestock and pets.

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  85. chicken eye joe7/25/13, 9:14 AM

    for a vet practice to treat any certain population, there needs to be an economic "driver".....both for their education and for their practice. Horse racing/showing has a high economic need and thus there are a lot of vets and research into how to treat horses...greyhound racing tracks and research facilities that use dogs also have driven a lot of research into dog treatments. Chickens are kept by egg or meat producers and there the end result will end in the bird death and is generally short term....and there is not a lot of income derived from the individual bird, so there is not a lot f research into treatment. Sad, but true...Birds in an egg producing facility live there only as long as they produce....maybe 1 year? then they are off to be soup....and the next round comes in ( I had a friend whose family had a large egg farm---10,000 chickens in the building at once).. treatment consists of removal of dead bird as "one bad apple will infect the rest of the bushel" theory applies. The health department looks very poorly on a food commodity trying to treat diseases on the premises. Ever see a milk cow with pretty "bracelets" or nail polish on them? that is a cow undergoing treatment for something and NOT being milked...and generally out on another farm or in another field. Chickens are not generally a house pet and so are not viewed by the veterinary world as a usual treatment...it will be up to you as individuals to find a vet who will be open to treating your animal regardless of what they are....we have taken iguanas, guinea pigs, rabbits, cockatiels to vets...all as a unique occurrence for the vets...but they were willing to do a little research along with my recommendations as to what treatment I needed. I also have a vet who will let me keep baytril on hand for emergency and we keep a good record of how to treat. The scarier thing here is the ARA that will get involved and may start to prohibit treatment by the owner ( or at least call such treatment as mis-treatment) and start to cause problems.

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  86. I do view my chickens as livestock, but that doesn't exempt me from seeking veterinary attention for a sick chicken. Unless I know what is making one of my chickens sick, I have no idea how to protect the rest of the flock. What this article has done is cause me to call my large animal (equine) vet today and ask about what I'm supposed to do if I have some sort of ailment pop up. Thanks for the prompting!

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  87. In addition to our six (!) cats, [2 FIV+] and aging Lab mix, we have 5 chickens, (all laying but 2 over 3 yrs.)
    Whereas
    I'd love to administer proper care to the birds, it simply isn't within
    our means.

    A cruel 'Sophie's Choice' plays out here and its the hens
    who get the short end.
    We've been fortunate so far in our brief time with them in that we've only lost one (it was a sad, but fairly swift demise.)
    But declining a necropsy, her death remains a mystery.
    I
    count on this blog/your experience and the recommended 'Chicken Health
    for Dummies' book to help with potential problems, which they have.
    Cost is one factor, but no easy DVM options are in our area, surprisingly enough. (Rural/Coastal OR)
    As vegetarians, our girls need not fear the stew pot once their productive days are over.
    Yet, I do believe in a a quick end to suffering; so if the need were to arise, I'd not hesitate to euthanize.
    Problem is, I wouldn't be able to do it myself and at this time have no alternative.
    Ester and Stella serve as a cautionary tale that I need to find an answer sooner than later.
    Thanks for all you do.
    It's clear there are many of us out here needing what you're sharing.
    And
    for what it's worth, vets are professionals with higher education
    credentials whose pay should be commensurate with such expertise.
    Though as a poor, struggling country girl, I wish it were more realistically affordable to my household.
    OR Suz

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  88. TheChickenChick7/25/13, 10:55 PM

    Stella was a Silver Spangled Hamburg, Karen.

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  89. TheChickenChick7/25/13, 11:27 PM

    That is a question you will need to ask the parrot vet, Sally.

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  90. I have 3 laying hens, Old Red who doesn't lay anymore and 1 wonderful Rooster - Rudy who lets his hens eat before he does, he calls them up when I put a treat out. The chickens are for fresh eggs - and I in return look after them. I had to take Blondie my favourite little blonde hen to the vets, she was dying, she was so sick. It cost me $90 AUS as I live in Australia. Probably the same amount my cat would have cost - I don't care, the vet is doing their job and she was very ill. There will come a day when she will need to go to ground - but not yet She gave me 5 syringes of a strong antibiotic paste to feed her. (I kept Blondie separated since she fell ill. I had checked if she was egg bound and the vet did the same). No they don't know a lot about chickens, but I was impressed how quickly she became well. None of the others got sick or have been sick. Blondie came ill again and this time I bought the strongest antibiotic I am allowed to buy and made it into a paste, and did the same she is now healthy and happy.

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  91. I use to take my pet rats to the vet so I totally get taking a chicken too when it's a loved pet. I would never take mine but they aren't pets exactly but they're not 'livestock' either. We do our best to keep them alive but don't spend hundreds of dollars when they're sick. Thankfully, we haven't had many cases like that though!


    BTW, I'm glad Blaze is feeling better!

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  92. Kelley Thies7/27/13, 9:42 AM

    Love it.

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  93. My chickens are my friends and my pets too. I have paid for Vets to see my Turkeys as well as my chickens, cats, dogs and my sons Rat. I feel if you have an animal then you have a responsibility to that animal to keep it healthy and give it the best care possible. I have security cameras set up to watch my chickens when I am in the house. I think we truly need back yard chicken Vet care and advice. If a chicken is sick or weak there must be a reason why. I personally do not believe chickens have a good life eating ONLY chicken food they love variety. Each of my girls has their own persona. I have 2 Roosters. 1 white silkie and Michael who I cannot ID. I will admit I love my chickens. Thank you.

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  94. TheChickenChick7/28/13, 11:29 AM

    Thanks Amanda. ;)

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  95. I first want to say I enjoy your site so very much. My concern is off this subject. I was going to contact you by email, which stated I would be outside the "safe zone". Your email always arrive (The Chicken Chick R & The Chicken ChickTM) the last two arrived with Chinese symbols after, The Chicken Chick. Are these safe to open? I don't want to miss anything. Thank you very much.

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  96. I'm new to owning chickens. I have had them for 1 month. Last week my Cochin hen got sick and she died today. I have looked for a vet but there is not one that close and the one I found was going to charge $115.00 for the visit. I just couldn't afford it plus have to pay for tests and meds too. I am studying up on it hoping my others don't get sick. My 4 year old daughter is very upset about it.

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  97. TheChickenChick7/29/13, 9:35 PM

    I'm sorry to hear it. I understand your frustrations. :(

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  98. TheChickenChick8/2/13, 4:30 PM

    Those letters mean "Registered Trademark" and "Trademark," Linda. "The Chicken Chick" is a registered trademark. ;)

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  99. Robert Grillo8/9/13, 2:39 PM

    I'm quite sure most of the feedback you'll receive on this subject will be based on the misguided view of chickens as "egg laying machines," their value based on the extent to which they serve as an economic resource to people and provide themselves with so-called "food independence, security and sustainability." These are the buzzwords that have triggered a movement that has resulted in millions of unwanted chickens ending up in shelters across the country. But that's another subject which deviates from the answer to the question: what level of veterinary care is considered "appropriate" for chickens by today's standards?

    Firstly, a little about myself. I am the director of a non profit charity organization called Free from Harm. Part of the mission in the work we do is chicken rescue, rehabilitation and advocacy. Our goal is to challenge society's abysmal perception of chickens and demonstrate how we can appreciate them based on the complex and magnificent birds they truly are rather than on what we want them to be. Central to our mission is the continual development of a collection of articles and videos that chronicle the high level of care we provide for each individual bird. Each individual has specific needs and we cater to those needs on an individual basis.

    Our goal in the care of our rescues is not just to provide them with a place to live out their lives, but instead, a place where they can thrive with the best care — the best diet, environment, human interaction and love — we can provide them.

    We work with a very experience vet named Dr. Peter Sakas who is also the founder of Niles Animal Hospital. He is an exotic bird specialist who also has a lot of hands-on experience with chickens.

    Many of the birds we adopt come from urban backyard environments. They were picked up by Chicago Animal Care and Control (a city kill shelter) as neglected, abandoned or abused birds. I have documented their stories and the specific conditions under which they were found and adopted in the many articles on our website. See the link earlier in this message.

    My vet and his staff share my concern for the proliferation of the backyard chicken movement, mainly, the problem with inexperienced chicken keepers who don't really have a sound understanding of their complex needs, both physical and social. Most of the birds in our care have had serious health conditions that required veterinary care. Most of these conditions are associated with complications due to their egg laying which is common in birds that have been bred to lay up to 300 eggs per year. In comparison, their undomesticated counterparts in nature who lay for purposes of reproduction only, live up to 30 years and die of natural cause.

    "Backyard chickens" that people are purchasing today coming from the same modern hatcheries that sell to factory farms will almost always die prematurely, within 3 to 6 years, due to the stress and/or complications of egg-laying. The hatcheries and their customers don't really care about the length or quality of their lives since they know that their egg-laying will decline after a year or two. In this sense they are marketed and handled by their owners as essentially egg laying machines that are easily and cheaply replaceable. Under such circumstances, it is little wonder why chickens receive little or none of the medical attention they need to live a full lifespan of 10 to 15 years.

    The genetic manipulation of their bodies, the breeding practices and the lack of proper veterinary care all reinforce the same cultural belief that these animals have only economic value, and little at that. In stark contrast, we keep chickens because we want to promote the understanding of chickens as having their own intrinsic value, not because we want their eggs.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Grillo
    Free from Harm
    http://freefromharm.org

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  100. Robert Grillo8/9/13, 2:47 PM

    "Livestock" is just an ugly and archaic word, by the way, that marginalizes the identity of animals as commodities. All mammals, birds and fish are sentient and complex beings who are built from the same DNA as we are. The fact that so many have different standards of value for different species is delusional and irrational. Animals are not commodities. Let's face that truth, once and for all, since we now live in an age where exploiting them for profit and pleasure, and not out of necessity, is not morally defensible.

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  101. Barbara Haugh8/11/13, 6:30 PM

    Well that post was a complete turn off for me. This discussion is veterinary care NOT an agenda you feel needs to be addressed. I for one, acquired my hens to lay eggs and in turn I provide them with a large open hen house where they get plenty of sunshine, fresh air and quality feed. I'm sure others who post here do the same. Try sticking to the subject!

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  102. Barbara Haugh8/11/13, 6:38 PM

    I would definitely take my hens to a vet IF the vet was qualified to care for them. Ive learned over the years doing dog rescue that there are times when a vet just has more experience and sees problems that I haven't. Sometimes he learns from me so it's a win win. I have been to vets though when I had rabbits that had to get out the vet bible and I thought at the time, omg he is reading about wry neck and I'm paying for this. I would expect to pay the same for a hen as a dog as the time the vet spends is the same no matter the species. The chance of me being able to find a holistic hen vet, now after reading this blog, will be close to zero so it's time to read about holistic approaches to chicken care or I'm out of luck.

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  103. chickenadvocate8/12/13, 4:03 PM

    Thank you for creating this forum about providing veterinary care for chickens. I've run a sanctuary for rescued chickens, including hens and roosters, since 1985. It never occurred to me when I started taking in chickens who needed a home that I would not provide them with veterinary care and treatment. Our first veterinarian in Gaithersburg Maryland had not treated chickens before, but he easily made use of his training in avian medicine to treat our chickens and turkeys.
    When we moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1998, I had a discouraging conversation with the local veterinarian who said he did not/would not treat chickens. But I explained that we already had good veterinary care for our birds in MD and we expected them to continue receiving good veterinary care in their new home. It turned out that the co-owner of the veterinary clinic WAS interested in learning about chickens and treating them, and the experience has been great. Our chickens receive excellent veterinary care and when I am in the hospital waiting room, people who are there with their dogs and cats are very pleased to see that a chicken is being cared for kindly and properly.
    If we are going to give animals a home with us, and they are dependent on us, surely we have an obligation to treat their illnesses. Antibiotics, especially Baytril, clear up most respiratory infections and Ivermectin gets rid of virtually all internal parasites that can cause suffering and debilitation in chickens when not treated - including the worms that can lodge in their tracheas called gape worms which, if not treated with worming medicine, will slowly strangle them to death. External parasites on unfeathered parts (legs, combs, wattles) are successfully destroyed with petroleum jelly or Neosporin, and poultry dusting powder gets rid of irritants in feathers and skin. We used to use a diluted Sevin Dust powder, but we now use food-grade Diatomaceous Earth including on perches and sprinkled in the straw bedding.
    So there are things we can do to maintain the health of our chickens once we learn the basics, but there are times when a chicken, the same as a dog or anyone else, needs professional medical care including surgery.
    Thank you for your attention.
    Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns.
    Website: http://www.upc-online.org
    Chicken Care: http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/

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  104. chickenadvocate8/12/13, 4:58 PM

    Thank you for creating this forum about providing veterinary care for chickens. I've run a sanctuary for rescued chickens, including hens and roosters, since 1985. It never occurred to me when I started taking in chickens who needed a home that I would not provide them with veterinary care and treatment. Our first veterinarian in Gaithersburg Maryland had not treated chickens before, but he easily made use of his training in avian medicine to treat our chickens and turkeys.



    When we moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1998, I had a discouraging conversation with the local veterinarian who said he did not/would not treat chickens. But I explained that we already had good veterinary care for our birds in MD and we expected them to continue receiving good veterinary care in their new home. It turned out that the co-owner of the veterinary clinic WAS interested in learning about chickens and treating them, and the experience has been great. Our chickens receive excellent veterinary care and when I am in the hospital waiting room, people who are there with their dogs and cats are very pleased to see that a chicken is being cared for kindly and properly.



    If we are going to give animals a home with us, and they are dependent on us, surely we have an obligation to treat their illnesses. Antibiotics, especially Baytril, clear up most respiratory infections and Ivermectin gets rid of virtually all internal parasites that can cause suffering and debilitation in chickens when not treated - including the worms that can lodge in their tracheas called gape worms which, if not treated with worming medicine, will slowly strangle them to death. External parasites on unfeathered parts (legs, combs, wattles) are successfully destroyed with petroleum jelly or Neosporin, and poultry dusting powder gets rid of irritants in feathers and skin. We used to use a diluted Sevin Dust powder, but we now use food-grade Diatomaceous Earth including on perches and sprinkled in the straw bedding.



    So there are things we can do to maintain the health of our chickens once we learn the basics, but there are times when a chicken, the same as a dog or anyone else, needs professional medical care including surgery.



    Thank you for your attention.

    Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns.

    Website: http://www.upc-online.org



    Chicken Care: http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/

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  105. Hello again. Since July 24th every email, has in place of R, for registered, a Chinese symbol. I think it's spam. I have not opened any of them there are several. I so enjoy your site & don't like to miss out on several emails since 7-24. I worry it could be a virus. When I send these to spam I will no longer receive your emails. I will re-subscribe. Just wanted to make you aware. Thank you.

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  106. TheChickenChick8/18/13, 10:23 PM

    Hi Linda. I responded to this comment when you left it once before to let you know that the "R" means "registered trademark" and the "TM" means trademark. The emails are not spam, I put those marks on my blog email template.

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  107. I don't know anything about chickens, but last Easter my grandchildren wanted baby chicks so I bought 5 one for each, I live in the city but I have them in my backyard. They have a small chicken coop that grandpa build in a gated area. All are white hens now and lay eggs every day. But two days ago I notice that one of them can't walk or stand I examine her legs and I don't see any thing wrong with them, she still eats and drink water, it's seams she has diarrhea and her pop stinks very bad. Can some one help me I don't know what's wrong. And the vets here don't treat chickens.

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  108. I don't know what is wrong with one of my hens can u please help? She is 6 mo old 2 days ago I notice that she can't stand or walk, I have examine her legs and body I don't see any thing wrong. Chechen seems to be paralize . :(

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  109. I view my chickens as livestock AND pets...I do love each and every one of them. I can see both sides of the coin though, when my newly acquired chicken was possibly sicker than I initially thought I wanted to take her to a vet, but my husband said no. He does feel that they are cheaper to replace...they are not pets for him at all. I can also see where the cost of vet care would be prohibitive for some people. I do not feel that a vet should discount their fees because it is a chicken, though. There is a reason that vet care costs a lot of money, and I don't think that because it is a chicken and not a dog that it should be cheaper, plus if they are certified avian vets then they have even more education than your regular dvm. I would not, however, take my chickens for well visits...it is a really nice thought, but if you figure that just an exam is around $50 +/- and you have lots of birds ...it would REALLY add up.

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  110. PoorGirl Couture9/23/13, 11:56 AM

    The way I look at it, any living thing that you take in becomes your responsibility. If you raise chickens for meat and one is not doing well, culling would be the simplest answer. You don't let an animal in your care suffer. Ours are not meat chickens, they are pets, all with names, personalities and a place in our hearts. I cry my eyes out when something happens to one. I've raised them all by hand with my kids. We got them for eggs, and when they stop laying we will keep them for manure for our large garden and hatch a new batch of replacement eggers. I mostly do online research when it comes to health issues, though I have had nothing serious come up as of yet. If there were a vet in the area I would greatly appreciate consultations and would be willing to pay a fee for this, just as I do with my dogs. If necessary I would take my pet in to be seen, whether dog or chicken. They are my responsibility and I couldn't let an animal suffer knowing there could be something done about it.

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  111. kathy shea ronaldson10/5/13, 7:34 PM

    I consider my girls my pets!! I would like to know that the vet I would be going to is familiar with chicken issues. I would take my girls in for regular check-ups! You can't expect however for the fees to be any less. Services are services. I originally got chicken for their fresh eggs, but have come to love each one!! They have personalities and attitudes! Pets with Perks!!

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  112. Its illegal for a veterinarian to dispense medications to a client without having the veterinarian-client-patient relationship which includes physically examining the patient and understanding how the patient is managed, husbandry practices etc. SO this aspect hinders prescribing medications when needed and offering treatment via an online forum. But online consultations for information and advice regarding health could be done. When it comes down to making a diagnosis and treatment this is something that shouldnt be done online unless there is an established relationship and an understanding of the patients disease and needs that has been previously preformed. But I am sure we can get close to meeting the needs of both client and veterinarian.

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  113. I think I'm going to back to school and be a backyard/pet chicken vet! No one around here will even look at them.

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  114. I have read all of the posts on your site faithfully and I have learned a lot. I have searched for a vet to help me with a sick chicken in the past. The closest one is 110 miles away, and won't give any advice over the phone without an office visit of over $90. They also said they specialize in exotic birds, not chickens

    Today I find one of my 3 year old marans mouth breathing, her comb flopped over and slightly purple, no interest in food, but can get her to drink some fortified rice milk, crop is slightly swishy but not distended, abdomen slightly firm but not hard.....do not know when she layed her last egg. All chickens were wormed with Wazine, then followed with Ivermectin two weeks ago. This same chicken was acting funny before I wormed them, but nothing specific.
    It is too bad there is not an online vet that can help us. There are doctors for people that make house calls online. Perhaps the vets, especially those that can help with backyard chickens, should consider this form of office calls..good income for them and help/convenience for us. They could reach out to so many of us that have questions or just need guidance.

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  115. I am waiting to find out if I'm accepted for vet school at Texas A&M and I have my own small backyard flock of chickens so I'm definitely interested in their advanced medical care. I see mine as both livestock and pets to a certain extent. I will say that chickens and birds in general are very different from the mammals that most vets see on a regular basis.

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  116. You might ask about a group discount with a large flock - some vets, especially an avian specialist who likes chickens, might do a well visit as a group price - just a thought...

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  117. It's hard to imagine that a vet would be able to even look at a sick hen for less than she is worth on the open market. So it would just have to depend on your fondness for the hen, like whether or not you consider her a pet. Pets (no matter their material value) usually have lots more money spent on them both for living expenses and for veterinary care. So it does come down to whether or not you consider them a pet. Personally, I have to have some kind of break point in the middle. I really enjoy my chickens, but varmints have a tendency to take my tamest, most favorite hens. And, while I continually spend time fixing and upgrading fencing, etc. the veterinarian has no cure for varmints.

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  118. Debbie Jaynes4/2/14, 3:35 PM

    I have a question, I have a hen that has been fine until today. I believe that she is the chicken that laid/pooped an egg from on the perch last night. The egg was shell less so absorbed into the pine shavings. She was the last to come out of the coop this morning and now has gone back into the coop and is up on the roost. Her eyes look clear and her comb is bright red. Is she just having a bad day? Thanks for your reply

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  119. TheChickenChick4/4/14, 1:35 AM

    It's impossible for me to know. What you should do is take her out of the flock and observe her eating, drinking and droppings habits.

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  120. What would cause a rooster's thigh to swell massively and make hum unable to use said leg for mobility?

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  121. I have a chicken that looks like she has "gape worm" i am having a very difficult time finding out how to treat her, as well as the rest of the flock. I just purchased and hung their water with a "wazine" water mixture according to directions on the bottle, only to find out that solution does not treat gapeworm. I'm reading that ivermectin may do the trick, but there seems to be debate about it's efficacy in the therapeutic dose recommended for skin application. I'm also wondering if it is safe to treat my girls with more than one wormer at a time. I have ivermectin tablets at home that are for my dog (heartworm pills-preventative)
    any suggestions? I don't want to lose another bird-2 down 1 month ago from unknown causes. thanks

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  122. Smriti rekha Puppala4/15/14, 1:31 AM

    Hi Kathy, I am in urgent need of advice. I have a pet rooster. He is 16 months old. So he is full grown. He has been happy and heathy but off late I have started noticing that his comb, which is relatively bigger than other roosters I have seen, is weighing down on his left eye, so much so that it is going downwards. The skull structure above his left eye is also looking deformed. We've never had a rooster before so we were not sure how to go about it. Since the comb is making it difficult for our little Momo (that's his name) is it possible to surgically remove part of the comb. Vets here in India seem to tend mostly to cats and dogs. So we have not really got any sound advice.
    Please help Momo is very dear to us

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  123. TheChickenChick4/15/14, 1:45 AM

    I wish I could help you with this, but I can't tell you what is wrong with him or how to fix it. As you know from this article, we have the same lack of chicken vets in the US. Sorry, Smriti.

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  124. Brent Harlin4/20/14, 1:31 AM

    Should I have my laying hens tested for any diseases (I don't want my hens family or customers to become sick) thank you-Brent

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  125. i got chick about 8 week old got her form rural king and she cant walk what can i try?

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  126. Hi my hen is 1 yr old and is just laying around not eating.
    This just started today. She doesn't have prolapse but she doesn'tlook swollen Iin her vent area and when she is breathing her tail moves up and down.
    Do you have any idea what could be wrong?

    Thanks Denise

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  127. my baby chick has a broken leg I separated her from all the other chicks but will the leg heal on it own? what should I do?

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  128. I have an 8month old barred rock. She was laying frequently until about 3 weeks ago. She has now stopped and has the appearance of molting around her face. The skin around her ear is slightly yellow. She eats & drinks and is her usual self following me around the yard. Is this a "soft molt" or should I be concerned of something worm/mite related? *my other 2 hens appear healthy* thanks for any advise!

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  129. Hello, I have a 3 month old pullet that was doing great. Iwent to feed them and she looks like something has filled her with air. she eats,drinks,gets around. She just looks like a kids ball, full of air. Any idea whats going on? what to do? Thanks, Robbie

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  130. Me and my friend had gotten 8 chicken eggs and 3 of them hatched. They are almost a month old now and all but one is growing normally. It's about half the size of the other hen that hatched and has a freakishly long leg. This leg makes it difficult for the chicken to walk and is always in the way. The leg appears to be twisted backwards. Me and my friend are worried it is suffering and can't find a vet to look in Conway, Arkansas. Do you have any ideas what to do or where to go?

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  131. Try looking up perosis or slipped tendon and see if that is what you believe it is. In the morning you can call your state extension office at the University of Arkansas- they're a great resource.

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  132. Thanks I will tell my friend as well. I'll tell you if any thing else happens.

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  133. Bonnie Breedlove Hawkins5/29/14, 9:10 PM

    I live in Naples Fl. I called around asking for a chicken Vet. There are not any. I can bring one in for $59(regular bird price). Or one will come out for $220 per hour billed from the time she leaves her office till she returns. I have asked around what people do for different problems and it seems nothing. They don't worry about them. No one seems to care much about them. It's sad. I have even been told they are only $3.50 and what you never had a chicken die. I'm still looking and asking around.

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  134. I have one of my girls that was fine 3 days ago in the morning. I went that after noon and she was limping. She is eating and drinking but doesn't stand up very long. I checked her feet and it's not bumble foot. Can you tell me what you think it might be?

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  135. I was finally able to get a good look at the chicken's leg... and it appears to have a backwards leg instead of perosis. But I can not be 100% sure cause I am still trying to get and appointment scheduled with my vets office. Is there anything that might help it or will it be ok?

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  136. http://www.allcreaturesanimal.com/find_us.html Here, look at their website if you haven't already... there is information and phone numbers for questions. Hope this helps. Or you can maybe check out this place... http://aovethospital.com/ These are just ideas though considering i have never been to either.

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  137. Annika McKillop6/2/14, 6:53 AM

    Just thought you would like to know… A board certified poultry veterinarian will be opening up shop in Maryland. You can find her online at www.mckilloppoultry.com

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  138. Outstanding! Thanks for sharing, Annika.

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  139. I decided to find a vet for my chickens because of your posts. I hope to never need one - I won't take a chicken to the vet for minor things. They are not pets like my dogs are, but they ARE pets. However, if I run up against something I can't treat (impacted crop surgery, anyone?) they will go to the vet. I don't have a problem culling part of the flock, but if it's not necessary I won't. (side note: I'm also a little spoiled. My father is a vet, though not a bird vet. I have access to things that not everyone has access to. I can get a free crop surgery if I'm confident that's what it is by driving my bird home)

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  140. Very sad to say one of my 6week old hens is injured. Hubby put out a rat trap to get a gofer and I had my hens out. They were supervised but neither I nor my son new of the trap. She got her head/ neck caught. She was only caught for 30 seconds or so but she did loose consciousness for a few seconds. Now she has some left sides weakness. She is moving her head and neck ok but I can see a bit of bruising under her one ear. A vet would be invaluable. I have moved her to the brooding box away from the flock and she is resting quietly. Any advice would be welcome. Hubby feels just awful.

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  141. Hi kathy!
    Do you sale brahma ? If yes can you send it to kuwait? Or if you know any person who sale it?
    Best regards.

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  142. Amy in Colorado7/17/14, 5:46 PM

    I consider my girls pets. I have taken some of them to a local avian vet who is very willing to see them. She has taken at least one class on poultry since I've been using her services the past 2 1/2 years. I know she has other chicken clients, but I don't know how many. I have paid regular fees, including 3 surgeries, and 4 euthanasias- well over $1500. I think the care was good in general, but haven't been completely confident in the level of poultry knowledge. After the last big expense of having 3 girls euthanized ($100 each) I've decided I can't afford that level of care. She did do necropsies on all 3 at no cost, I think for her own learning as much as to be able to tell me what was wrong (2 cancers, 1 egg peritonitis). I absolutely do not want my girls to suffer needlessly. What I've decided to do in the future is research online, do the best I can for them myself, and take them to my dog/cat vet for euthanasia if necessary. I've had 1 euthanized since making this decision. Our dog/cat vet is much less expensive and willing to help me out.

    I have wondered if there are skilled poultry vets out there. Having grown up on a registered beef cattle operation, I do understand that there is a point where the cost outweighs sentimentality when one is trying to make a living. There must be some breeders of expensive stock that need that level of service. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

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  143. One of our chickens looks to be injured. there is good amount of dried blood on her face and her eyes are closed. She is just sitting/standing very lethargic. Any ideas what I can do to 'save' her?

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  144. I have a chicken that is limping.. After keeping her separated from the other chickens for a week when I tried to put her back in w the they attacked her! And she's still limping! What do I do?

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  145. I'm vegan so I see ALL animals as fellow Earthlings and friends. They have as much right to good medical care as I do. The Creator that created me, also created them, so I figure both of us are loved and valued by our Creator. Who am I to steal the life away that was given to them by that Creator? I simply do not have that right. Nor do I have the inclination. The whole concept is foreign to me. So. Yes, we need good chicken vets.


    My little girl Melody lives in the house with me and 2 rabbits and a bird. Her sister died about a year ago in surgery. The avian vet said she knew chickens but I have since found out she only treats parrots. I don't feel she did right by Amelie and I resent it to this day. I miss my feisty little girl.


    Now recently her sister has come down with stasis and sour crop. I went to THREE different vets that SAID they treat chickens. The first one took x-rays and said she was normal. Then she asked me what I wanted to do. Me? I thought YOU were the doctor. She hung up on me. After we paid $266 for an exam and x-ray. The 2nd doctor looked at her and said he didn't know what to do. He only charged $28 but he wasted a few precious days by saying he knew chickens when he doesn't. The 3rd doctor said she couldn't help me before I even came in for our appointment! I'm thinking this first vet from a year ago got on the phone and told people I was difficult. She's angry that I warned others about her on a few on-line forums. So she not only denied seeing Melody, but I feel, she told others not to see her either. Criminal. This is not the kind of person I would ever trust with one of my fur or feather babies. Unfortunately I didn't know that until after she killed Amelie.


    I finally found a vet in a small town about an hour away. Took her in and got 3 different meds to deal with all of her issues. Let's see if it works. At least she's treated chickens successfully before so fingers crossed. If these meds do work then all of the previous vets will be shown up as completely incompetent in this area because the meds are common solutions to common problems in chickens. They shouldn't be seeing chickens if they don't know the common solutions to common ailments at the very least.


    It irks me that someone would think it's OK to just let an innocent animal suffer or worse kill them, just because they don't want to pay a vet. I also think vets charge WAY too much in general. Veterinary medicine should be a calling, not a get rich quick scheme. Ya know? And it would be nice if the vet actually LIKES animals. I've had such a hard time finding good competent and CARING vets for my rabbits. It's near impossible for my chicken. Honestly, once she passes, which I hope isn't for a very long time, I'm not getting any more chickens. Not until I'm confident that I have a support system in place to help me care for them. A good chicken vet is a big part of that support system. Without it I can't commit. I cannot watch an animal suffer and I sure as hell ain't gonna kill anybody. Nope. No good vet, no flock. And that is that.


    I'll miss it though. I just adore chickens. They are the sweetest, most cuddly, funny and smart little munchkins. I just adore their antics. All those sweet sounds they make. Crouching to be picked up. Saying goodnight with those little murmurs. The happy clucks. Oh I'll miss them so much! I would even consider moving to another city if they had a good chicken vet. Seriously.

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  146. I have a question about chickens and lice - our flock (11 birds) was just treated for lice - how long before they start laying again and will the eggs be safe to consume? Thanks for your help!

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  147. Hi chicken chick. Was wondering if chickens need to be wormed. We have seven beautiful girls that enjoy the run of our large backyard. We try to stay close to holistic guidelines. Want to keep these girls healthy for our good health. Thank you

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  148. My hen has a broken leg,wing and back is better to put her down or bring her to a vet because my hen is my pet and I want to do what's best for her

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  149. I have a chicken who recently had to go to the vet. She was bleeding and I didn't know where it was coming from. I had to take her to an exotic vet because that was all I could find. They ended up telling me she had broke a nail and it would have to amputated because her bone wad exposed. She told me she would have bleed to death if we dint have the surgery done. To save Snickers I paid the $300.00 for surgery. Was this really necessary? Now she is missing part of her toe.

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  150. One of my ladies, "Rocky," is looking sickly. She hasn't looked right for a week or so. Her comb is now very pale, she makes weak-sounding clucks, her posture is poor and her feet turn in WHEN she moves. She is now isolated so i can observe her routines but I have a suspicion that she isn't laying eggs because she looks bloated. Did online research to find somewhere to take her didn't have any luck. Our chickens are pets to my 3 kids. The last thing we want is for Rocky to suffer unnecessarily. Any suggestions or feedback?

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  151. I expected the cost of veterinary care for my chickens to be significantly more than my dog's, but I was pleasantly surprised it was not. It's 20 mintues longer to drive to their vet but only $20 more for the office visit than my dog's.
    The cost of veterinary care shouldn't be based on the purchase price of the animal. For example, free office visits aren't expected when an animal has been acquired at no cost from someone posting an ad in a newspaper.

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  152. If there was a chicken vet in my community, I would definitely bring my birds in if they became ill.

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  153. Tiffany Overcash1/11/15, 10:39 AM

    My Silkie rooster is still not well. It's been almost 3 weeks now. He's eating, drinking, crowing, and chasing hens, but he has a cough. He has had two penicillin shots and is currently on the ninth day of Duramycin 10. I don't know what to do at this point. He is, by far, my favorite, very sweet and very protective over the girls. No poultry vets in my area. If anyone has any ideas what I can do to get rid of his "barky" cough, PLEASE help me...

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  154. I've found steam baths with a little eucalyptus and lavender oil can help with larynx irritation and mucous breakdown. We have a medium sized dog crate that we house the bird in, lined with something absorbent (we use pressed pellet litter) to prevent moisture pooling on the bottom (change frequently to prevent mold growth). Then we place the bird in, and set a humidifier in front of the crate (not where the steam can directly come in contact with the bird). Cover the crate and humidifier with a dark sheet to contain the steam vapor and keep the steam bath going for 10-15 minutes per session. Make sure the bird has fresh water in the crate to drink at all times. Repeat 2-3 times per day and keep the bird out of the dusting areas. Hopefully this will help assist the bird to expel the excess mucous as the antibiotics do their job. At the very least, the bird will get some physical comfort from the spa treatments. Other thing to check is the bird's housing and hangout spots.... make sure there is no mold growing in the poultry areas. Wet wood, litter and/or feed can be mold sources. Hope this helps... best of luck to you.

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  155. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Seanda.

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  156. nitanameidea1/21/15, 10:41 PM

    Seanda, this is one heck of a wonderful post!! I couldn't agree more.

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  157. Tena Vansant1/30/15, 6:30 PM

    I would definitely pay my vet to treat my chickens when they are sick. It takes special education to treat our babies!!! Right now I have a questionably sick girl and don't know what to do...

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