New Profession: Chicken Veterinarian

(Photo: Matt Seppings)

If you have dogs or cats, you can go to a general practice small animal veterinarian for pet medical care. If you have snakes, parrots or, as I once did, rabbits, then you can track down a trained exotic animal veterinarian.

But what if you have pet chickens? There are about 260 veterinarians in the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, but most of them work in the livestock industry. Their approach to chicken medical care may be inappropriate for a pet. Jon Kamp, who is apparently paid on a per-pun basis, writes in The New York Times:

"If there's something wrong with a commercial chicken, it's 'Cut its head off and find out what's wrong with the flock'," says Cheryl Greenacre, an associate professor of avian and zoological medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.

That doesn't roost well with backyard bird fans, many of whom hopped on the poultry bandwagon in search of self-sufficient, grow-local lifestyles.

Some veterinarians, however, are trying to meet this emerging market for chicken medical care:

Marli Lintner, a vet in Lake Oswego, Ore., with chicken expertise, says she commonly performs hysterectomies and stitches up fowl that have been wounded by predators.

In Tennessee, Dr. Greenacre performed a surgery last month to remove a clutch of stuck eggs from Dolly Poulet, a petite, white chicken. Owner Stephen Brown, a 40-year-old in Knoxville who runs giftware company Glitterville, spent roughly $2,000 but was thrilled with the outcome after getting spurned by other vets, one of whom told him chickens were "disposable" livestock.

-via Brian J. Noggle


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