Prior to graduating from elementary school my parents had bought me a female grey cockatiel, who I named Laverne. A cockatiel had been on my wish list for almost two years. A few months after we got Laverne I was allowed to adopt three English call ducks . Ducks had been on my periphery for even longer. Ever since then, I have always cared for both poultry and parrots simultaneously. For those who have contemplated backyard poultry and who currently have parrots there are some things to consider.
“I have been treating birds and exotic pets exclusively since 1996 and have been a board-certified avian veterinarian since 1998,?said Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice) owner of Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics has been a veterinarian since 1994. Although she sees more parrots than poultry her hospital recently has seen an increased number of chickens, around one a week, on average.
I wondered how disproportionate poultry owners are to parrot owners. “I think that a handful of people have both,?Hess said. “There are bird lovers who appreciate birds of all kinds as pets.?
Unfortunately, she says many bird owners (parrots and songbirds included) do not bring their pets into the veterinarian for regular check-ups. Caregivers wait until the birds are sick to have them examined. “Even fewer backyard poultry owners provide veterinary care at all for their birds,?Hess said.
“For all birds ?parrots or poultry ?preventing a medical problem is much better for the animal, and generally less expensive for the owner, than waiting to treat a medical problem once it starts,?Hess has observed. “Parrots should have annual examinations, including blood work and stool analysis, particularly as they get older.?Hess also said that poultry also require annual medical attention.
I believe that the reason why many backyard poultry owners do not take their birds in to see a veterinarian is because they are afraid of the cost. One resource that I have used to better my flock is through the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). The ?lan?as they say is a cooperative Federal-State-industry method to help control certain, potentially common, poultry diseases. The Plan consists of different programs intended to prevent and control poultry diseases. Participation in all Plan programs is voluntary. Every time I showed my poultry growing up, I had to show my flock? clean bill of health through the NPIP program. A representative came to my house, tested my pet chickens and provided me with the results in a very timely manner. Each bird tested for only a few dollars. It was very affordable.
To learn more about the NPIP you can visit their website http://poultryimprovement.org or you can search your state? Department of Agriculture.
“A veterinarian should check out a poultry flock and the conditions in which they are housed annually,?Hess added. “A flock stool sample should be examined for parasites each season, particularly if the owners are eating the eggs, so that people are not potentially ingesting these parasites when they eat the eggs.?Taking a flock fecal sample, compared to individual birds, will make the total cost much less.
Dr. Hesss recommends rotating the area in which poultry forage for their health. This minimizes the chance of the birds?re-ingesting parasite eggs passed through the stool into the soil on which they forage. At minimum, she says, the top few inches of soil should be changed out if moving the flock isn? possible.
“The concept of owning a backyard poultry flock to provide fresh eggs is very romantic; however, poultry owners must remember that commercial poultry farms are subject to very strict regulations to assure their eggs are fit for human consumption,?Dr. Hess says. “Thus, it? critical that backyard poultry owners realize that for the sake of both the birds and the egg-eating humans, these birds should be checked by a veterinarian regularly.?
Can Parrots & Poultry Coexist?
There are certainly several diseases that can be transmitted between parrots and poultry, most notably avian influenza, Hess said. “So, if someone is going to own both types of birds, they must pay attention to keeping these birds completely separate,?she said.
If a bird owner has both parrots and poultry, Dr. Hess urges the owner to change their clothes, including their shoes, when they go into their homes to handle their parrots after they have been touching or have even been around the poultry. The caregiver can bring in bacteria, parasites, viruses and other infectious agents on their shoes, clothes and hands. Food and supplies should also be kept separate.
Different birds have their own unique benefits. “Parrots make wonderful, often lifelong companions, and laying hens obviously provide fresh eggs to families for their consumption,?Hess said. “Bird owners who have both parrots and poultry can benefit doubly from their pets and also get to appreciate the very different personalities that parrots versus poultry have, as well as the different care these two groups of birds require.”
For more information on Dr. Hess check out:
Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics
Facebook: Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics , Dr. Laurie Hess
Twitter: @birdexoticvet , @DrLaurieHess
LinkedIn: Laurie Hess
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