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Ground-breaking research to help pet chickens

Would you like to help improve the lives of backyard chickens all over the world by contributing to some of the first academic research ever conducted into pet hens?

Pet hens have been largely neglected by the world of academia, but researchers are now turning their attention to our backyard flocks, and we’ve launched a pioneering new forum to facilitate their studies.

This research, and your contribution to it, will build credible data around hen-keeping and create a bank of knowledge around the best ways to care for and keep chickens, as well as how they can benefit human mental health.

Meet the researchers

hannah crowe

Hannah Crowe

With more than 30 chickens in her own backyard flock, Hannah Crowe knew she would have to incorporate hens and their intrinsic value into her MSc thesis. The chicken ‘boom’ over the past several years has seen a rise in the popularity of owning chickens amongst urban and rural environments whilst the recent pandemic allowed people more time at home and drove the need for a sustainable food source. Owning chickens not only provides eggs but promotes well-being and mental health for those who own them.

This is a crucial time for researching into the trends and numbers of owners across the UK, understanding the social influence chickens now have will ultimately improve their welfare and progress further research of these impressive animals.

Jenny Mace

Jenny Mace

Jenny is a remote visiting lecturer with the Centre for Animal Welfare at the University of Winchester. She is the lead author of two papers concerning human relationships with nonhuman animals; the first is published in the journal Animals. She has also produced a report on chicken welfare for an Israeli animal welfare charity, and Faunalytics has published several of her research articles.

Jenny’s keen to focus the bulk of her foreseeable research on optimising the care of pet chickens, particularly ex-commercial chickens. She is especially interested in researching novel and emergent care-taking practices such as the use of the Suprelorin hormonal implant as a means of healthcare in hens. Jenny is also an academic editor and editing co-ordinator for an academic editing company. She is a committed animal carer with two adopted cats, one adopted dog and three ex-commercial hens.​​

Keiran Ragoonanan

Keiran Ragoonanan

Keiran is a final year vet student at the Royal Veterinary College in London. During his clinical placements, Keiran witnessed first-hand the areas for improvement when it comes to chickens for both owners and veterinarians. Compared to other birds, there is a significant gap in the scientific literature on backyard chickens.

When the opportunity arose to do his second research project in an area that has the potential to improve the care chickens receive it seemed like a great project for him to take on board. He hopes to continue to make a difference to the lives of these wonderful, feathered creatures and other species in the future.

sol pet hen research

Sol Elliot

I am a 4th year Veterinary Student at the University of Nottingham. Having grown up in the countryside, I have always had a keen interest in caring for any two or four legged friends I could find on the farm. Over lockdown, I completed a studentship on Equine Influenza which sparked my interest in research. With the Avian Influenza outbreaks in recent years, it is clear the need for research into how backyard flock keepers are dealing with the nationwide restrictions as well as the importance of clear, accurate and up to date information. This will ensure our poultry are kept safe, healthy and receiving the highest standards of care.

My survey is coming soon!

Judy Bettridge

Dr Judy Bettridge

Dr Judy Bettridge joined the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich in February 2020 as a Fellow in Biostatistics for Food and Agriculture. Her previous research roles have included research associate positions on the UrbanZoo and Chicken Health for Development projects with the University of Liverpool and the International Livestock Research Institute. She is currently working on a new project, RodentGate, looking at the role of rodents in various diseases on pig and poultry farms in Europe and is hoping to bring her experiences from smallholder chicken farms in Africa to working with the BHWT to develop new UK research projects.

My survey is coming soon!

June Po

Dr June Po

Dr June Po is a research fellow on gender and diversity in food systems at the Natural Resources Institute. She uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore issues regarding social-ecological resilience, gender and development, social norms and values, adaptive capacity, and resource governance that are integral to the livelihoods of rural marginalised communities. She has research experience in sustainable rural livelihoods, food systems research, food and nutritional security, inter-institutional dynamics in natural resource governance, biomass cooking fuel use and population health. She hopes to bring her interdisciplinary research experience to collaborative work with the BHWT.

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catherine oliver bio

Catherine Oliver

Catherine Oliver is a postdoctoral researcher, currently working with urban chickens and keepers in London as part of the Europen Research Council funded project titled Urban Ecologies at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. She completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2020. Catherine writes widely about animals and geography in academic and public-facing forums, especially focussed on chickens.

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dr megan kiln

Dr Megan Kiln

Dr Megan Kiln graduated from The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2020 before joining the team at the Dick Vet Reptile and Exotic Practice for an exotics internship. Following this, she began a year-long internship in Rabbit and Exotic Animal Medicine at DVREP, working in the clinical practice as well as teaching students. She loves working with all types of exotic animals in her internship but has a particular passion for Backyard Poultry Medicine and enjoys being an advocate for our feathered friends. In the future, she hopes to pursue further training in the field of exotic animal medicine and become a specialist. Her current research interests include reproductive disease prevalence and treatment in ex-commercial chickens and the effect of husbandry on these conditions.

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Professor Christine Nicol

Professor Christine Nicol is a Professor of Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College in University of London and has honorary appointments at the University of Oxford and the University of Lincoln. She is also the Field Chief Editor of Frontiers in Animal Science and the author of The Behavioural Biology of Chickens. Her research will involve her students conducting surveys that will look at how long adopters have kept their hens and any problems they encountered including their ‘end of life’ decisions. They will also analyse trends in data from users of the BHWT hen health helpline.

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Jodie Mancer

Amelia Adams