I am afraid that my bird is sick. Where should I go for help and what kind of information should I provide?
There are a few ways you can get help. One is to contact your local small animal Vet, but a Vet who specializes in Avian medicine is your best bet. Another is to contact a University that has a poultry research lab. These have at least one Poultry Research Veterinarian on staff and they are usually glad to help. This is also a good source for having a necropsy (autopsy) done of your bird if it expires, since this will confirm the diagnosis and enables you to protect the rest of your flock. There is also a few Poultry Forums on the Internet that are filled with backyard fanciers who know the ropes and can help you with simple problems. Many forums even have some experienced poultry health experts visit from time to time and can answer the more complicated questions.
One of the most important things you can do regardless of where you go for help, is to provide the source with as complete a list as possible of the following information:
- breed, gender, and age of the bird
- diet, whether they are on medicated or non-medicated feed, how you store your feed – include treats and whether they are cage kept or free-range (if kept indoors, what type of bedding)
- recent medications they have either been on or are currently on, the reason for the medication, and the dosage, and whether they’ve been vaccinated – if so, specify
- specifics about their droppings – color, consistency, blood present, etc.
- the way they act – whether they’re eating and drinking normally (excessive thirst is a symptom), acting normal or sulking, if they’re standing in a corner, squatting, won’t get up
- the way they look – the color of their skin and comb as compared to normal, the quality of feather, as in dull or normal and whether they are ‘ruffled’ (standing out)
- the way they feel – as in how’s their weight – up, down, or normal, see if they have a solid breast, or is their breast bone protruding, and if it is a hen, does she have a heavy or ‘overweight’ abdomen – if so, is it soft or hard
- if a hen, what her laying pattern is and if that’s changed in any way
- the way they walk – whether they’re stumbling as if they are drunk, or appear paralyzed
I know this seems like a lot of information, but trust me, you can get all of this information in just a few sentences. The more information you give, the more likely it is to get the correct diagnosis, which is vital to successful treatment.