Veterinarians Play Critical Role in Backyard Poultry and Livestock Welfare, as well as Human Health
Backyard poultry and small-scale livestock agriculture are a growing trend in the U.S. Residents raising backyard poultry and livestock do so for a variety of reasons such as access to locally sourced food, companionship and sustainability.
A Western Regional team of collaborators, including UC Davis researchers, conducted a survey of veterinary practitioners to better assess their engagement with owners of these animals. Although most of the veterinarians perceived an increase in backyard poultry and livestock in their practice areas, few were actively treating such animals primarily because of a lack of facilities, interest or experience.
Their findings, published in the July 15th issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, indicate an increasing demand for veterinary services for poultry and livestock in peri-urban areas, and a need for ongoing continuing education of practitioners, as well as the animal owners.
Dr. Ragan Adams, a veterinary extension specialist at Colorado State University said: “Many of these owners are unfamiliar with the responsibilities and challenges of owning poultry and/or livestock. County Extension personnel can teach the new animal owners as they have taught youth in 4-H programs for more than 100 years. With enhanced knowledge about animal husbandry, the new owners will understand the importance of seeking veterinary services when their animals show signs of illness.”
The increase in popularity of backyard and peri-urban agriculture provides both challenges and opportunities for veterinarians. Providing veterinary service to owners of backyard poultry and livestock, who often view their animals as pets rather than production animals, requires a different approach and some different skills than providing veterinary service to owners of conventional or commercial livestock operations.