Backyard chooks and other feathered friends
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Backyard chooks and other feathered friends

Increase your confidence and skills diagnosing and treating common pet poultry and small flock problems.

 Export to Your Calendar 6/07/2020 to 19/07/2020
When: 6 - 19 July 2020
Where: Online
New Zealand
Presenter: Neil Christensen | Dawn Mills
Contact: Danielle Stevens
04 471 0484

Online registration is available until: 6/07/2020
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About the course

Add poultry to the list of species you know how to treat effectively with this comprehensive course all about pet and small flock chooks!  As well as being a popular pet in many urban settings, an increase of semi-commercial flocks has been seen in New Zealand. This means that veterinarians are increasingly expected to have a working knowledge of disease conditions in chickens and other poultry in order to best serve their current and potential clients.

This course will cover a wide range of topics to help you increase your knowledge levels, shift your practice to preventative medicine and achieve better welfare for your poultry clients’ birds! Regardless of whether you are treating one chook or a flock this course will equip you with the essential skills you need to be an effective poultry veterinarian.

Post mortem examination underpins poultry practice and is based on these three tenets:

  • “If you ask the wrong questions, you won’t get the right answers” - we’ll get you asking the right ones
  • “For each diagnosis missed through not knowing, 5 are missed through not looking”  - we will show you where to look
  • “If you can’t see it, it didn’t kill it”  - don’t over complicate matters!

Diversify your practice and feel comfortable tackling previously too-challenging poultry cases with support from experienced tutors, and make a real difference to your clients’ poultry with this online course!


Online course:

This online course will run for 2 weeks with a combination of pre-recorded presentations, notes and forums where attendees can ask the tutors questions.

Course dates: 6 - 19 July 2020

Learning objectives

  • Enlarge the spectrum of patient species you are confident to care for
  • Learn how to more effectively treat your poultry patients
  • Enhance the welfare outcomes for your poultry cases
  • Make more rational antibiotic and therapeutic choices
  • Increase your delivery of preventative medicine


  1. Clinical examination of the individual bird
  2. Diagnostics in the individual and flock situation
  3. Post mortem examination
  4. Internal and external parasites
  5. Marek’s disease
  6. Egg problems
  7. Systemic bacterial disease
  8. Salmonellosis
  9. Medication and vaccination
  10. Anaesthesia and surgery


Neil Christensen BVSc

Neil grew up in Natal at the time that Rainbow Chickens was expanding to become the largest broiler producer outside the USA.

The poultry industry took him to the UK, where he started working for the late Cliff Stuart in1979, onto Saudi Arabia, Malawi and New Zealand.  He lectured mostly reluctant veterinary students in poultry medicine at Massey University for 14 years.  Voted lecturer of the year in 1992 – the students could find no record of any poultry pathology lecturer achieving this anywhere in the world!  

Following 2½  years at Pacificvet Ltd, vaccine suppliers to the South Pacific, Neil established Avivet Ltd, in 2000. The practice has gone through a number of phases – a pig phase (as much pig work as poultry), a food hygiene phase (where demands of NZ’s new regulatory bureaucracy sustained the practice) into a purer poultry-dominant phase looking after by the veterinary needs of New Zealand poultry producers, especially the expanding free range egg industry, and navigating exporters of genetic stock into complex Asian markets. More latterly Avivet has expanded into parasite control registering a portfolio of products for control of worms, blackhead and coccidiosis.

Neil became registered as a specialist in Avian Medicine in 1999, which was converted to Poultry Medicine in 2019, when this more appropriate specialisation was recognised by VCNZ.

His hobbies and interests include gold panning and the history of gold mining, growing Christmas trees, and tropical veterinary history, particularly the conquest of arthropod-borne disease. Neil has a recreational pilots licence, occasionally plays tennis, follows the cricket and is a long-suffering and ever-optimistic supporter of Newcastle United.


Dawn Mills BVSc, MANZCVS (Poultry Health)

Dawn graduated from Massey with distinction in 1981 and worked in club practice in Levin and New Plymouth for the next thirty years, mostly part time while raising a family. In line with an interest in injured wild bird care and providing better care for avian patients in general, Membership in Caged Bird medicine was achieved in 2008. From 2003 some work in export certification of pets, day old chicks, horse and livestock was done. Chick export work led to an interest in the care and medicine of commercial poultry, and a second Australian College membership, in Poultry Health, was achieved in 2014. At present most of Dawn’s time is spent working with commercial poultry, while she maintains an interest in wild birds and conservation in general.

CPD points

This course is worth up to 8 hours of CPD.


NZVA Member: $460

Non-member: $920

Student: $100

Prices are quoted in NZD and include 15% GST.