Caring for pet chickens - Chook Vet Dr Phil
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Pet chickens make wonderful pets. Many varieties are magnificant and individuals can be endearing and bonded companions. For people living in Melbourne, Collingwood Children's Farm has some stunning chicken breeds on display to the public. Our pet owners generally name each bird and and easily recognize them from a distance.
Chickens are derived from the wild jungle fowl of South-east Asia and have been domesticated for over 2000 years. Popular varieties of pet chickens include Leghorns (white), Rhode Island Reds (red), Australorps (black), Barnevelders and Light Sussex. Bantams are small chickens, often miniatures of large poultry varieties. Silkie Bantams go broody readily and are often used to incubate eggs of other species. It often surprises us how bonded owners are with their pet chickens. Being a bird clinic, it is great for us to work with such big, friendly avian patients. We recommend that at least one of the flock should visit an avian vet on an annual basis
Consider the following when acquiring new or replacement birds .
- Preferably choose ones that have been vaccinated at one day old for Mareks disease. Although vaccination is not 100% it does reduce the risk of this fatal disease.
- For pet birds preferably choose a breed that does not lay an egg every day like the Isa Brown. These high producers are more prone to cancers and disease related to continual egg laying, especially as they get older. Choose traditonal breeds such as Australops, Barnavelders, Orphingtohs, Bantams or Silkie or just 'moggies'.
- Chickens start laying at about 22 weeks old -called "point of lay"
- If you purchase an older bird ie 20 weeks they should ideally have been vaccinated against respiratory disease viruses
- Ideally get at least 3 birds
Home grown free range eggs are usually so much healthier and tastier than store bought ones and chook owners are playing their part in sustainable living and indirectly taking a stand against battery hen eggs. Healthy human food left overs are put to good use with chickens and there is less wastage great recycling! Chickens are relatively low maintenance and generally don't need to be walked, unless you happen to live in an apartment. Trust the Yanks, in the USA harnesses are available to fit chooks for their daily walks! Disposable nappies are also available for inside chickens but this has yet to catch on in Melbourne
Housing and husbandry - by avian chicken vet Dr Phil
- Medical treatments for coccidia and worms are necessary - depending on the faecal egg count results. Over the counter products are available - we can even post them out to you.
- We have a bird wormer safe to use in egg-laying birds.
- Bird Vets Melbourne have excellent products for mites and lice that are safe, work well and will keep your "babies" more comfortable.
- Provide an elevated sheltered roosting area and litter or other soft substrate to protect feet and keep the floor dry..
- Place food and water dishes OFF THE FLOOR so that chickens do not defecate in them .
- feed scraps in a container or on grass being careful not to contaminate the food with droppings.
- Avoid access to metallic objects such as coins, toys, nails, solder or loose wire or any other sources of lead or zinc.
- Protect from predators, especially foxes. The coup and the "outdoor" runs need to be fox proof.
- Should I keep a rooster? We don't recommend it for first-time chicken owners... at least not in urban areas! Roosters are not needed for hens to lay eggs and roosters often crow throughout the day and annoy neighbours. But they can have amazing beauty and stature and help protect hens against predators.
- Perches for Chickens - Dr Phil like large natural logs - about 10cm diameter or more - cut in half - The hens -sit or lie down on their tummies -when sleeping . As they get older the perch diameter needs to be increased -for a more restful sleep! The unevenness is good for foot health as it distributes weight more evenly. Perches should be about 40 cm off the ground.
Diet - Chicken Vet Victoria
- Feed a variety of food groups.
- Feed a combination of chicken layer pellets and mixed grains (barley, wheat, rice).
- Also give daily dark leafy green and yellow vegetables (spinach, silver beet, grated carrots, beans, peas, broccoli, seeding grasses, etc.);
- Shellgrit is important for crushing and digestion of the grains and food in the muscular gizzard.
- Good layers need an additional protein source such as meat or legumes, or high protein commercial layer feed daily.
- Fruit may be offered, as can multi-grain bread, pasta or human table scraps.
- In prolific layers a protein source and calcium may need to be added.
- Avoid chocolate, coffee or alcohol, as these may be toxic.
- Dr Phil's Favourites treats- Tomato, cheese, sunflower
Common illnesses - seen by "Chicken Vets" Melbourne
- Mareks Disease - generally in chickens younger than three years old - Herpes Virus Disease. Try to purchase vaccinated birds but this does not guarantee that they will not get the disease.
- Tumours - especially internal abdominal tumours.
- Sinusitis and other respiratory infections. These need early treatment before pus builds up in the sinuses. If you purchase "point of lay" birds at 22 weeks - they should also be vaccinated against respiratory disease viruses.
- Egg yolk related peritonitis and other female reproductive problems
- Pox Virus Disease - mosquito transmitted -see the picture below
- Predator attacks - especially foxes.
- Coccidiosis - an intestinal protozoal disease and worm parasites
- Worms - Round worms (Ascarids and Heterakis) and Capillaria.
- Crop dilatation and impaction.
Welcome to Bird Vet melbourne – Avian Veterinary hospital
The only specialist bird vet hospital in Melbourne with three avian veterinarians. This Melbourne based Specialist Bird Veterinary Hospital is located in south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. We see pet many species of pet birds including, Parrots, cockatoos , canaries, budgerigars, cockatiels, ducks, chickens, pigeons and finches.
If you need a Chicken veterinarian this Melbourne bird Vet facility is chicken friendly and caring and empathetic. we have outside chicken runs. The bird vet hospital facilities including private hospital incubators for each little chicken patient, and purpose made facilities and equipmnet for the small pet chicken patient.
Do you need a bird vet? We are open Seven days. Please phone us on 98089011 to make an appointment.