Episode 46

Coming Home to Roost: Backyard Poultry for Small Animal Vets

2022 Midwest Veterinary Conference Preview Series See All Episodes »

Interest in keeping backyard poultry has been increasing—but the number of veterinarians who see poultry hasn’t. How can small animal veterinarians evolve to fill this growing need?

In today’s episode—the final installment of our MVC Preview Series before the big event—we are joined by Dr. Tim McDermott of The Ohio State University Extension. He shares a bit about his background and gives listeners a sneak peek at his MVC 2022 session on backyard poultry.

Episode Guest


Timothy mcdermott


A 1996 graduate of Ohio State, Dr. McDermott is an agriculture and natural resources educator.
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Mia Cunningham: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the OVMA’s Fully Vetted podcast. I’m your host, Mia Cunningham. Today I’m happy to welcome Dr. Timothy McDermott to the show. Dr. McDermott serves as the extension educator for agriculture and natural resources at The Ohio State University. Welcome to the show. Thank you for joining me.

Timothy McDermott: Thanks, Mia. Happy to be here.

MC: Before we get started, I do like to ask my guests to just give me a little bit about their background.

TM: Hi there. My name is Tim McDermott. I am a 1996 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I was in private companion animal practice for 20 years, and now I am an assistant professor and agriculture and natural resources educator for OSU Extension here in Franklin County. I found out very quickly in my extension career that there are tons of people that keep backyard poultry, and they need more information on how to do it safely, where they can access great resources, how they can find veterinary care when they need it. And so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.

MC: You’ll be speaking at the 2022 Midwest Veterinary Conference. Can you share with our listeners a little bit about your session and what they can hope to learn?

TM: You bet. So the title of my conference is Adding Poultry to Your Practice. So I teach the fourth-year veterinary students their backyard poultry rotation. I’m not an industry vet. I’m not a board-certified poultry vet, but I want to engage them to demonstrate that they can see backyard poultry in there. And so that’s my goal for my talk. And what I tell the students is this: Say you are a companion animal-only practitioner and somebody calls you and they want to bring their bird into your practice. The minute you see that bird, you just became a mixed-animal practitioner, which is super cool, and you can tell everybody that.

And then the other thing I tell them is this: One of the things to realize is when we have clients and say you’re a small animal companion animal-only veterinarian and you’re seeing your dogs and your cats and your clients are bringing their dogs and cats over there. And what you may not know is they might have three layer hens that they’ve had for a couple of few years, and they’ve been collecting eggs with them, but they bonded with them and their kids love them. Maybe they’re 4H projects or something like that. And say one of them gets sick and then they get on the phone and they call you and they say, “Hey, Doc, I don’t know if I told you this, but I have backyard chickens too, and one of them is acting funny. I’d like to make an appointment for that.” Well, you have two ways that you can respond to that question. You can say, “I would love to see the bird. Let’s find a time to see it.” Or you can say, “I don’t see backyard poultry.” And then what may happen is they might call around until they can find somebody to see backyard poultry. And as I tell the vet students, maybe they like that vet more than they like you. And maybe they stop going to you because they just found a new vet that will see all of their animals.

And so I recommend you at least consider seeing backyard poultry. You’d be surprised at how similar it is to what you’re already doing. And like I said, it doesn’t require any special equipment. You have everything you need already to do diagnostics and assist your clients with at least the most common diseases that you’re going to see in backyard poultry practice.

MC: That’s been great information, Dr. McDermott. Thank you so much for joining me today.

TM: It was my pleasure. If you need to get a hold of me you can contact me at my email [email protected] or the website for Franklin County which is Franklin.osu.edu or if you are in a different county in Ohio, you can find your county name by countyname.osu.edu.

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