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Poultry Health Course

As part of our mission to improve pet hen health and increase knowledge about chickens, we are proud to announce that we have teamed up with The University of Nottingham to offer a six-week online poultry course, fronted by Kate Humble.

Kate Humble with Hens

The Poultry Health course will be available via FutureLearn from May 16th, 2022. Aimed at vets, vet nurses and vet students, but beneficial to anyone with an interest in poultry, the curriculum has been created by university professors, veterinary professionals and BHWT staff including Founder and CEO Jane Howorth and Head of Rehoming and Welfare, Gaynor Davies.

Students on the course, which is fronted by BHWT patron and TV presenter Kate Humble, will be able to access online tutorials and videos of operations to understand more about the health and welfare of hens, an animal that is becoming increasingly popular as a pet in the UK. Watch Kate’s introductory video here.

Expand you knowledge with our poultry health course, in partnership with the University of Nottingham
Kate Humble

Many vets in the UK are familiar with treating more exotic species, like arachnids or lizards, as well as our regular domestic pets. But many vet practices are not familiar with treating poultry.

Through this course, you will gain a broad insight into all aspects relating to poultry, including chickens, waterfowl, and game birds. It will enhance your understanding of the differences between the different poultry keeping communities and give you an insight into the different approaches that may be needed with each one, whether it’s commercial rearing, show birds, or people keeping poultry as pets.

During the five years of training that vets receive, less than one day is dedicated to poultry whilst vet nurses don’t receive any training in this area. As pet hens become more and more popular there will be increasing numbers of keepers caring for these birds and potentially seeking advice and/or treatment from their local vet.

This free course is available online worldwide to increase knowledge and help to improve the lives of pet poultry. The University of Nottingham is known for its poultry courses and has experience of producing successful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), so we’re thrilled to have inputted significantly and to be working with them to deliver this course to enhance knowledge of hens among veterinary professionals.

Jane Howorth
Robert Atterbury

We are delighted to have partnered with the British Hen Welfare Trust in the development and delivery of this course. My research over the past 20 years has focussed on poultry diseases and finding new ways that they can be controlled. Despite their growing importance in agriculture, and now as companion animals, poultry receive relatively little attention in veterinary education.

The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham is proud to launch this fantastic, free resource for people who may need to care for backyard poultry, either as professionals or hobbyists.

6 weeks duration

3 hours weekly study

100% online

Free and worldwide

Who is the course for?

This course would appeal to the veterinary community – in particular small animal vets, newly qualified vets, and veterinary students – as well as owners of ‘pet’ (non-commercial) poultry, and public/animal health professionals and charities.

What topics are covered?

Topics covered on the course include basic anatomy and physiology, routine husbandry, specific infectious and non-infectious diseases, common surgical procedures, the basis of infection control, parasite control, vaccines and viruses, the difference between layers and broilers, nutrition, legal aspects and whether poultry feel pain.

By the end of the course you'll be able to

Course outline

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Introduction to poultry
  • Anatomy and reproduction
  • General requirements for healthy birds
  • Poultry handling and health
  • Systemic infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Dermatological infections
  • Skeletal diseases and lameness
  • Prolapse and impactions
  • Cardio disease and nutritional deficiencies
  • Vaccination and immunity
  • Medication and minor surgical procedures
  • Euthanasia and legislation