Backyard poultry refers to chickens, waterfowl, or turkeys that are not part of the commercial sector, including pet and exhibition birds, small layer/meat bird flocks, and birds for private egg production. Backyard poultry owners may often be served by local veterinarians rather than commercial poultry veterinarians.
This article addressed the importance of suitable poultry housing, which must provide adequate shelter, protection, space, and ventilation. Clean bathing water, litter, and perches must be provided. Balanced nutrition should be appropriate for age and species; formulated pellets, grain, and grit must be provided. Drinking water should be clean to prevent Clostridium botulinum infection. Prevention of endoparasites (eg, nematodes) and ectoparasites (eg, lice, mites) depends on appropriate supplement administration, disease recognition, and environmental management.

In laying birds, prompt recognition of disease conditions (eg, egg peritonitis, oviduct prolapse) is important. Keeping beaks, claws, and spurs trimmed can prevent secondary problems. Breeding should be monitored for bareback, which occurs secondary to breeding trauma. Diarrhea can be a common and important indication of underlying problems. Bullying and environmental changes can also cause stress. Understanding husbandry and management is key to ensuring adequate health and welfare.

Often, the economic value of poultry is nothing compared to its worth as a pet. Clients are frequently willing to invest (logistically, financially, emotionally) as much in a pet chicken as someone would in a Hyacinth macaw. Never should foregone conclusions be drawn regarding what a client might be willing to do for these pets, which deserve as much attention and quality medical care as any other of the avian world.—Don J. Harris, DVM
Backyard poultry 1. Husbandry and general management. Houghton-Wallace J, Lister S. IN PRACT 34:136-145, 2012.