I’m Bianca. With your regular columnist on vacation I will be stepping in for this week’s post. While most of you know me as an international reporter, being a chicken makes me particularly qualified to write about navigating through the Internet grapevine tendrils for those fruits of wisdom. There’s lots of squawking, crowing, tweeting, tapping and chirping racing across the Web these days. With TV shows, conferences and an explosion of products for chickens – ranging from diapers to swings – us chickens are hot stuff. Old timers are scratching their heads.
The strangest chicken related item you could get in the old days was a fancy feedbag to make a curtain out of when you were done eating. Well, times have changed.
If you are shopping around for poultry tips and advice – well, they won’t be scarce as hen’s teeth! Just like your feathered roommates, you have to move the leaves and mulch to get the goodies. And just like the worms, useful information won’t always be easy to catch. How do you scratch through the mulch for the real valuable information?
Well, I have plenty of experience moving mulch, in the newsroom and in the field.
Poultry Veterinary Advice
You will find a deluge of veterinary advice on the Internet. The only catch is – very little of it is from actual veterinarians. Huh. And this is because it is extremely difficult to dispense medical advice over the Internet.
Bump on your chicken’s face? Fowl Pox. Yup. Or…ummmm.
Chicken not laying? “OOOOh, definitely Infectious Bronchitis. Run!”
Avian symptoms can be extremely vague, so don’t necessarily just jump to conclusions because of something you read online.
Green droppings can be anything from a momentary upset, to cancer or lead poisoning. A chicken who is listless may be injured, egg-bound, suffering from Marek’s or who knows what?
Many prey species run from pain, fight against the pain or simply remain very still. If a prey animal is experiencing pain, and you are restraining them, they will “give up” and just sit there. The Chickens are still in pain – they are responding as a prey animal does once a predator has brought it down. Gives me the jeebies just writing about it.
Many people are under the impression that chickens do not feel pain (the Internet is full of individuals engaging in Civil War amputations and procedures on poultry). The nervous system of these vertebrates suggests the opposite. As prey animals, chickens may not exhibit “pain” responses. Vets do not monitor pain or stress responses solely by looking at the prey animal – who may appear unconcerned – or may even be eating! Vets register pain responses by physiological parameters. “Recognizing pain in animals is a challenge because animals cannot communicate the same way people do. However, there are some species-specific behaviors that can indicate pain and help us recognize it. For example, animals that are natural predators, such as dogs, behave differently when in pain than do prey animals, such as rabbits and horses. Prey animals tend to hide their pain, making recognition of pain even more difficult in these species.” (See Recognizing and Assessing Pain in Animals) Experts believe this pain hiding is an adaptation in prey animals to lessen their visibility and “availability” to predators. Chickens, like rabbits and sheep, are super prey – everybody wants to eat you. It’s true. I carry mace.
What You Can Do
• Find a vet or reliable poultry extension service before you need them. Many poultry illnesses and injuries are serious once they become obvious to the keeper, and by then the animal requires immediate veterinary attention. Many vets can even consult with you over the phone. Poultry is poultry – so vets who treat birds won’t care if you have a duck, guinea, goose or pheasant.
• Ask any vet in your area if they will treat your birds. Many will. If one says no – just keep asking around. Any vet will be able to treat, diagnose and dispense medicine. They will also be able to consult with avian specialists.
• Use Internet blogs and websites to connect with other chicken keepers. Ask if they know of a vet in your area. I bet someone will. Facebook is a good place to find poultry clubs. Just be wary and only use trusted sources.
A few parting tips from Bianca:
Internet websites and blogs are intended to provide tips and suggestions in sparkling, “cool,” and lively platforms. Enjoy them and have a good time – that’s what they are for. They link chicken people, and us chickens, together in a wonderful community. Have a good time! Read some flock tales and learn how to make a pie and plant some posies. Chickens, like me, are fun – enjoy.
• When researching websites and blogs for poultry information check the credentials of the writer. Is the site address an .edu, an .org, a .gov? Are they a poultry specialist? Are they a vet? Do they teach, write or work in the industry – do they have peer-reviewed research?
• Save time by searching “Poultry Extension” on your search engine. You do not even need to contact a local service – any of them will assist. I often consult with Auburn University and I live in Massachusetts when I am not traveling the world on assignment. Universities are designed to serve you and they love to offer outreach events. Call or email these guys. They are your best resource.
Thanks for reading. We may meet someday. I know I great little cafe in Copenhagen.