Charity and university team up to offer ground-breaking online poultry course - Veterinary Practice
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Charity and university team up to offer ground-breaking online poultry course

The British Hen Welfare Trust has partnered with the University of Nottingham to provide a free poultry course for anyone with an interest in the health and welfare of poultry

The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) has partnered with the University of Nottingham to offer a free online course in poultry health and welfare.

The Poultry Health course will be available via FutureLearn from 16th May 2022.

Aimed at vets, vet nurses and vet students but beneficial to anyone with an interest in poultry, the course curriculum has been created by university professors, veterinary professionals and BHWT staff including founder and CEO Jane Howorth and Head of Rehoming and Welfare Gaynor Davies.

Students on the course, which is fronted by BHWT patron and TV presenter Kate Humble, will be able to access online tutorials and videos of operations to understand more about the health and welfare of an animal that is becoming increasingly popular as a pet in the UK.

Kate said: “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 practices are not familiar with treating poultry. Through this poultry 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.”

Jane said: “During the five years of training that vets receive, less than one day is dedicated to poultry while vet nurses don’t receive any training in this area. As pet hens become more and more popular there will be increasing numbers of keepers caring for these birds and potentially seeking advice and/or treatment from their local vet.

“This free course is available online worldwide to increase knowledge and help to improve the lives of pet poultry. The University of Nottingham is known for its poultry courses and has experience of producing successful massive open online courses (MOOCs), so we’re thrilled to have partnered with them and to be working together to deliver this course to enhance knowledge of hens among veterinary professionals.”

Topics covered on the poultry course include basic anatomy and physiology, routine husbandry, specific infectious and non-infectious diseases, common surgical procedures, the basis of infection control, parasite control, vaccines and viruses, the difference between layers and broilers, nutrition, legal aspects and whether poultry feel pain.

By the end of the poultry course, participants will be able to:

  • Confidently diagnose and treat most common poultry conditions
  • Describe the differences between the various housing systems and categories of poultry
  • Understand current legislation and policy in relation to hen medications and nutrition
  • Describe the rationale for biosecurity and need for infection control

Dr Robert Atterbury, associate professor in microbiology at the University of Nottingham, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the British Hen Welfare Trust in the development and delivery of this poultry course.

“My research over the past 20 years has focused on poultry diseases and finding new ways that they can be controlled. Despite their growing importance in agriculture, and now as companion animals, poultry receive relatively little attention in veterinary education.

“The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham is proud to launch this fantastic, free resource for people who may need to care for backyard poultry, either as professionals or hobbyists.”

While the poultry health course is free, donations to the BHWT are appreciated and can be made online via the BHWT website.

You can register for the course on the course page on the BHWT website.

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