Finding a veterinarian to treat your chickens is not an easy task; however, it may be the most important thing you do for your flock! Most Poultry Vets out there are employed by large production poultry companies, and are not available to the general public. When you do find a veterinarian willing to treat your flock, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! It is easy to be intimidated by someone who has so much knowledge about a subject perhaps that you do not. (If you do feel too intimidated to ask questions.. move on!) Ask how much experience they have treating chickens. Do they have a flock of their own? Do they attend Continuing Education to expand their knowledge base of poultry medicine and stay up to date? Remember, the veterinarian ultimately works for you. While they deserve just as much respect as anyone else, you must feel comfortable placing the health of your beloved flock in their hands.
When you first think of locating a chicken vet, you probably think an avian veterinarian who has experience treating parrots, would most definitely be up to par to treat your flock. Well... Yes and No. As you know, avian medicine is completely different than mammalian medicine. So yes, in that aspect, an Avian Certified Veterinarian will know the inner workings of a chicken. There are many shared health conditions parrots and chickens have in common that an Avian vet could certainly treat. On the flip side, there are a good amount of viral illnesses, bacterial conditions, fungal infections, toxins, and injuries that poultry are susceptible to that parrots are not. So consider calling a large animal vet (farm vet) while doing your search for a poultry Veterinarian. I have found that the farm vets in my area have tend to have more experience treating chickens than Avian vets do. Cost is usually not quite as high as well. That being said, you should locate and consider both - then decide (after asking questions of course) which you feel more comfortable with.
Believe it or not, my first call when dealing with an ill chicken is to the University of Florida's Zoological Department. My first visit, I expected the bill to be outrageous, but surprisingly, the cost was comparable to any other vet I had used in the past. Maybe even cheaper! If you have a university close by with a zoological department, give them a shout while searching to establish a vet for your flock. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Most of you probably have dogs and/or cats and a regular veterinarian in which you take them to. Many times, your small animal vet will be happy to do a few simple in house lab tests if you just need some help getting to the bottom of something. For example, you are concerned one of your birds has intestinal parasites. Small animal veterinarians all have a microscope! Give them a shout and see if they would be willing to let you drop of a fecal sample. I recommend a "Group Sample" from several different birds in the flock. And always remember, the more poop you can gather the better. While chickens and mammals have different invasive intestinal parasites, the eggs and/or ova from protozoa look very similar.
There are many private labs which offer online kits to test for multiple viral and bacterial diseases in your flock. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for collecting that sample, and sometimes having the supplies to do so. (Some lablabs will send supplies at no expense to you). State labs also offer testing as well for certain ailments, but again, you are left collecting the sample. Which could include at least 1ml of whole blood, a sample of tissue from inside the throat taken with a special swab that goes inside a preservative before sending out, etc. I have found that private labs work much faster than state labs. I will provide a few links below for private labs for you to check out.
Please note: I am not actively selling birds or hatching eggs right now. When I begin selling again, I will send out an email to those subscribed to our website newsletter. So I encourage you to sign up for our mailing list so you will be the first to know when birds or hatching eggs are available!