Student vets volunteer to get hands-on with chickens in need of new homes - Veterinary Practice
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Student vets volunteer to get hands-on with chickens in need of new homes

A group of veterinary students enjoyed some hands-on experience with chickens by volunteering with the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT)

A group of British and American students from the University of Glasgow gave up part of their weekend to help at a British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) rehoming day in Denny, getting some hands-on experience with chickens.

The volunteering trip was also one of the first events held by the new Association of Avian Medicine (AAM) set up by vet students at the university.

Cameron Clark, a first year vet student and co-founder of the AAM, said: “It was a great opportunity to not only help with the re-homing but also get hands-on with the birds because at vet school we get little experience handling poultry. Plus, all the people there were so knowledgeable about chickens and husbandry that it was great to speak with them and pull on some of the knowledge they had to offer.

“I would love to go on and specialise in poultry or avian veterinary. I’ve had hens since I was nine-years-old, and I was given a few to start off with; I’ve been fascinated ever since.”

The AAM is a chapter of the Association of Avian Veterinarians and currently has around 80 members, although the official membership process is still being finalised. The association hopes to arrange more events, such as talks from a commercial poultry rearer and a lecturer from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh.

To continue his quest for more specialist poultry knowledge, Cameron is also in the process of applying for one of six grants available from the BHWT for veterinary students and vet nurses doing research that will improve and benefit the quality of health, welfare, and longevity of pet chickens.

Cameron added, “Over the summer I hope to carry out a four to six-week long project using a small group of hens to examine environmental enrichment and behaviour using pecker blocks, treat blocks and cameras.

“I think grants like this are an amazing opportunity for people to get real hands-on time with birds and do research that will help us to learn so much more about their behaviour and gain more knowledge on how we can suggest improvements in their welfare.

“I hope that with grants like these and the establishment of the AAM, there’s more opportunity than ever to expand specialist knowledge of birds and make connections with lecturers and professors who have knowledge to share but don’t have the opportunity within the curriculum to do so.”

The BHWT has six grants of up to £3,000 available, one of which is being co-funded by the prestigious British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) PetSavers.

There are two rounds of grants to apply for. The deadline for the first round is December 15, 2021. The deadline for the second round is July 15, 2022.

To find out more about the grants visit the page on the BHWT website.

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