Get technically and scientifically accurate information on how to care for non-commercial poultry.

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Closeup of a dog protecting an injured hen laying down on the sofa together.

Identify the clinical features of diseased birds and when they need treatment

On this veterinary course, you’ll get expert advice on how to recognise when poultry are unwell, and the options available to you for treatment.

Grow your understanding of poultry health and effective treatments

This course will help both small animal vets and the large number of pet owners who keep poultry. Small animal vets often feel poorly prepared for treating sick birds and lack knowledge of the treatment options available to them.

Likewise, new owners may be unaware of diseases and predators which may harm their birds, and may not have access to veterinarians who are sufficiently knowledgeable.

Understand chicken anatomy and poultry disease

You’ll learn how to identify the key anatomical features of chickens, including major organs and organ systems.

Alongside specialists at the University of Nottingham, you’ll identify how to diagnose the main clinical features of illness within poultry, as well as the diseases that affect them, and determine at what point a vet needs to be consulted.

You’ll come away with a practical understanding of how to reduce the risk of animal disease impacting public health, the key responsibilities of people keeping non-commercial poultry, and the main pieces of legislation that apply to them.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds [SOFT MUSIC PLAYING]

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds I’m Kate Humble. I’m a patron of the British Hen Welfare Trust, and I’ve been keeping poultry, hens and ducks, since 2007. I’m delighted to introduce this course to you. Many vets in the UK are familiar with treating more exotic species, like arachnids or lizards, as well as our regular domestic pets. But many vet practises are not familiar with treating poultry.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds Backyard poultry keeping has grown exponentially in the last 16 years and continues to grow. And with that growth, owners expect more awareness and better treatment options from their vets. So this course will give you a greater depth of understanding through illustrative content. [CHICKENS COOING] Through this course, you will gain a broad insight into all aspects relating to poultry, including chickens, waterfowl, and game birds. It will enhance your understanding of the differences between the different poultry keeping communities, and give you an insight into the different approaches that may be needed with each one, whether it’s commercial rearing, show birds, or people keeping poultry as pets. With more than 50 billion birds in the world, poultry keeping is set to continue growing.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds Completing this course will help you confidently treat any problems with your poultry.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Introduction

    • Welcome and introductions

      Welcome to the course.

    • Introduction to poultry

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe the main features of different breeds of poultry, and how commercial and non-commercial birds differ.

    • Anatomy and reproduction

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe the anatomy and reproductive cycle of poultry, and how this is performed in commercial establishments.

  • Week 2

    What poultry need and how do you handle them correctly

    • General requirements for healthy birds

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe the key requirements of poultry regarding their housing, biosecurity, nutrition.

    • Poultry handling and health

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe good practice when handling poultry, as well as evaluate a bird's general health and how to protect poultry from predators.

  • Week 3

    Infectious diseases of poultry

    • Systemic infections

      After completing this activity, you should be familiar with the more important systemic diseases of poultry and how to recognise their symptoms.

    • Respiratory infections

      After completing this activity, you should be familiar with the more important respiratory diseases of poultry and how to recognise their symptoms.

    • Gastrointestinal infections

      After completing this activity, you should be familiar with the more important gastrointestinal diseases of poultry and how to recognise their symptoms.

    • Dermatological infections

      After completing this activity, you should be familiar with the more important skin and feather diseases of poultry and how to recognise their symptoms.

  • Week 4

    Non-infectious diseases of poultry

    • Skeletal diseases and lameness

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe common skeletal malformations in poultry and how some of these can lead to lameness.

    • Prolapse and impactions

      After completing this activity, you should be able to discuss the causes of prolapses and impactions and how these can be treated or managed.

    • Cardio disease and nutritional deficiencies

      After completing this activity, you should be able to discuss the causes and features of cardio disease and poultry, and the presentation of key dietary deficiencies.

  • Week 5

    Interaction with the vet

    • Vaccination and immunity

      After completing this activity, you should be more familiar with the features of the avian immune system and the role of vaccination in disease control and prevention.

    • Medication and minor surgical procedures

      After completing this activity, you should be able to describe the medication used to treat diseases in poultry, some minor surgical procedures, and the role of antimicrobial resistance in decision making.

    • Euthanasia and legislation

      After completing this activity, you should be able to discuss euthanasia procedures and decision making relating to poultry, as well as relevant pieces of UK legislation and how these are enforced.

  • Week 6

    Surgical case studies

    • Surgical treatment

      After completing this activity, you should be aware of several surgical interventions to treat some common conditions which may present in pet poultry at small animal clinics.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

If you'd like to take part while our educators are leading the course, they'll be joining the discussions, in the comments, between these dates:

  • 18 May 2022 - 24 Jun 2022

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the lifecycle of poultry, and the differences between commercial and non-commercial birds.
  • Describe the key requirements of poultry regarding their housing, biosecurity, nutrition and protection from predators.
  • Evaluate a bird's general health and identify the key signs which indicate poor health.
  • Discuss the main categories of infectious disease affecting poultry, including examples of pathogens causing respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and dermatological infections.
  • Discuss the main categories of non-infectious disease affecting poultry, including examples of skeletal, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and dietary/nutritional disorders.
  • Discuss the importance of vaccination in disease control.
  • Describe the key features of avian immunity and how this differs from mammalian immunity.
  • Discuss the role of antimicrobials in disease treatment, and the impact of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Discuss the main diseases likely to present in backyard poultry in a small animal clinic and the decision process of how each condition could be managed.

Who is the course for?

This course would appeal to the veterinary community – in particular small animal vets, newly qualified vets, and veterinary students – as well as owners of ‘pet’ (non-commercial) poultry, and public/animal health professionals and charities.

Who will you learn with?

Robert is a Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Nottingham. He has spent over 17 years researching pathogenic bacteria and how biological agents (phages) can be used to control them.

Professor Paul Barrow is Sub-Dean for Research and Business at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham.

In 1994 Jane sourced some battery hens which set her on a path leading to the development of the BHWT as it is today. Her goal - to raise awareness of hen as pets and to improve their treatment.

Gaynor began her career in a London small animal clinic where she became Head veterinary nurse. After 33 years a move to Devon led her to the role as Head of Operations and Welfare for the BHWT

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.

British Hen Welfare Trust

The improved well-being of pet poultry is a key objective of the British Hen Welfare Trust and we are proud to have initiated and contributed extensively to this course.

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