When I worked on large animals, we also took care of chickens, ducks, and other fowl.  Essentially pet, meat, and egg laying birds that might be used for human consumption.  It really does fall well into the livestock category.  The demand was actually quite high.  The pet bird vets didn’t really want to do it and most other average large animal vets didn’t either.  They had no place to turn.  From a regulatory standpoint, large animal/livestock veterinarians are better trained and equipped to handle issues involving these birds, especially from a food safety perspective.  There are health certifications and lots of paperwork that can be involved in making sure disease outbreaks and human health concerns are monitored and protected. 

During my stent as a large animal veterinarian, we worked with a lot of pet birds too.  Birds that would never make it onto some one’s dinner table.  This can be a sticky situation as with other animals labeled as “food animals”, the FDA does not care if that animal has a name and is a pet.  It is still subject to the rules and regulations protecting humans from inappropriate and irresponsible drug use. 

Some of our staff members have chickens of their own and genuinely enjoy spending time watching them and taking care of them.  They can be very therapeutic and personable.  Chickens can be very smart, but they are different in their behavior.  They can have unique personalities and there can be funny stories regarding these birds. 

In my travels, I have crossed paths with many birds that stand out in my memory.  I think the Turkeys seem to be most represented.  Clients have had some large turkeys that can display some amorous intentions and strut their stuff. 

FREE RANGE CHICKEN IN KEY WEST, FLORIDA

I was on a call to vaccinate some horses and dogs at a local client here in Albemarle.  As I stood at the back of my truck pulling up vaccines, I heard a scraping sound on the ground behind me.   I turned around and saw this very large, puffed up turkey dragging his wing tips on the ground with his snood bright red and blue, strutting up to my location.  He slowly creeped up and started to chest bump my leg.  About that time, the owner came out and said, Fred, go on now.  She is not interested in you.”   She walked up and shooed him away.  He stayed close by in case he found another opportunity to interject his intentions.  I had to take a picture of Fred.  I just couldn’t help it.  I know I have that picture somewhere.  Maybe Stephanie can find it for this newsletter.  I will try to include some other pictures of chickens if I can.   Enjoy your birds.  Send us some pictures so we can see your winged and feathered friends. 

FRED THE TURKEY