How to Choose a Vet for Your Chickens
12 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Tending a Sick or Injured Chicken
If you plan to raise chickens, you must find a good veterinarian who treats poultry. Don’t wait until a bird gets sick. Know where to go before an emergency arises in your flock; you’ll save valuable time looking for a vet. Your best resources are livestock vets, university animal hospitals, and the county extension office.
Almost every county in the United States has a county Extension office, which is an outreach of a university — often a university with agricultural and veterinary medicine schools. Your Extension agent, or educator as they are sometimes called, should be able to refer you to poultry researchers and labs that can diagnose problems with chickens. In some states, diagnostic work is done for free, but in most states you have to pay a fee for the service.
If your Extension educator doesn’t have an answer, he or she has resources at the college to turn to for help. You can find your county Extension office by looking in the phone book’s government section, usually under county government. You can also go to www.csrees.usda.gov and click Local Extension Office under the Quick Links heading. When the U.S. map appears, click on your state. A county map will appear. Click on your county for contact information.
Don’t assume that a vet will treat chickens. Some small animal vets consider chickens livestock and won’t treat them, but others may if they treat exotic birds in their practice because they are familiar with birds. Even some large animal vets may not know much about chickens and prefer not to work with them. But livestock vets often have close ties with university animal hospitals and can refer you to a source of help.