Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How a True Blue Hen Loves to Start the Day

That would be me - yes - a Fighting Blue Hen. A graduate of the University of Delaware!  We have a lot of chickens in Delaware and Maryland - Perdue (note: Purdue is a University located in Indiana and where I got MY DVM!) and many other big companies have farms there, in the Delmarva Peninsula region. It's big business and where many of your dinners likely come from, unless you are a vegetarian. 

In any case, as an animal science major there I got to learn a lot about chickens (and other farm animals as well). In my pursuit of things to improve my odds of getting into vet school AND because I LOVE learning and science, I pursued becoming a Science and Engineering Scholar - a competitive undergrad research program on par with some Masters programs. I was accepted and began working with Dr. Bill Saylor - who, if you follow my Facebook page - just had a big retirement party this weekend! Congrats to Bill - a wonderful professor and person.

His area of study was what we term "monogastric nutrition" (dealing with those creatures that have "one stomach"). This is in contrast to "ruminant nutrition" - cows, sheep, deer, etc. They do NOT truly have more than one stomach (or acid producing organ) but they have other compartments to digest things that some of us other creatures cannot.  

 I spent my sophomore summer and the years after that until graduation working on various projects (immunology, antioxidants and ways to reduce phosphorous in waste). These involved chickens because of the location of our great university. We worked to help better the industry from a bird and business health standpoint.  

I loved my time there so much, I did consider furthering my work and getting a PhD in poultry or even raptor nutrition ALONG with a DVM (this kind of thing was offered at places such as the Univ of Minn vet school). But it was not to be. I didn't even apply there. Still, I enjoyed my time in the lab and on the fringes of working in academia. As I always say, if I had 9 lives, I definitely could've had a different veterinary career  for each one. Too many interests, not enough lifetime!

After veterinary school, I never realized that on occasion, I'd be using my experience and knowledge on pet chickens. It has come in handy time and again and I am always thrilled to see them. Trust me, they are actually very cool animals. AND you would be amazed at the variety of colors and breeds they come in - go to a state farm show and you will see!

Today my first patient was this sweet and very pretty chicken, named Rosa:

She is owned by a veterinary technician who had opened a crop abscess up (which sounds like it was on its way to popping). We cleaned it up and put her on some injectable antibiotics.

This was a very cool way to start the day!

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