Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Date: 30 November 2023

WPSA is present at

  • 7-9 September 2023, EggMeat Symposia, Krakow, Poland
  • 20-22 November 2023, VIV MEA, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates



Charity and university team up to offer ground-breaking online poultry course

The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) has partnered with the University of Nottingham to offer a free online course in poultry health and welfare.

The Poultry Health course will be available via FutureLearn from 16th May 2022.

Aimed at vets, vet nurses and vet students, but beneficial to anyone with an interest in poultry, the curriculum has been created by university professors, veterinary professionals and BHWT staff including Founder and CEO Jane Howorth and Head of Rehoming and Welfare Gaynor Davies.

Students on the course, which is fronted by BHWT patron and TV presenter Kate Humble, will be able to access online tutorials and videos of operations to understand more about the health and welfare of an animal that is becoming increasingly popular as a pet in the UK.

Kate said, “Many vets in the UK are familiar with treating more exotic species, like arachnids or lizards, as well as our regular domestic pets. But many vet practices are not familiar with treating poultry.

“Through this course, you will gain a broad insight into all aspects relating to poultry, including chickens, waterfowl, and game birds. It will enhance your understanding of the differences between the different poultry keeping communities and give you an insight into the different approaches that may be needed with each one, whether it’s commercial rearing, show birds, or people keeping poultry as pets.”

Jane said, “During the five years of training that vets receive, less than one day is dedicated to poultry whilst vet nurses don’t receive any training in this area. As pet hens become more and more popular there will be increasing numbers of keepers caring for these birds and potentially seeking advice and/or treatment from their local vet.

“This free course is available online worldwide to increase knowledge and help to improve the lives of pet poultry. The University of Nottingham is known for its poultry courses and has experience of producing successful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), so we’re thrilled to have partnered with them and to be working together to deliver this course to enhance knowledge of hens among veterinary professionals.”

Topics covered on the course include basic anatomy and physiology, routine husbandry, specific infectious and non-infectious diseases, common surgical procedures, the basis of infection control, parasite control, vaccines and viruses, the difference between layers and broilers, nutrition, legal aspects and whether poultry feel pain.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • confidently diagnose and treat most common poultry conditions
  • describe the differences between the various housing systems and categories of poultry
  • understand current legislation and policy in relation to hen medications and nutrition
  • describe the rationale for biosecurity and need for infection control.

Dr Robert Atterbury, Associate Professor in Microbiology at the University of Nottingham, said, “We are delighted to have partnered with the British Hen Welfare Trust in the development and delivery of this course. My research over the past 20 years has focussed on poultry diseases and finding new ways that they can be controlled. Despite their growing importance in agriculture, and now as companion animals, poultry receive relatively little attention in veterinary education.

“The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham is proud to launch this fantastic, free resource for people who may need to care for backyard poultry, either as professionals or hobbyists.”

Whilst the Poultry Health course is free, donations to the BHWT are appreciated and can be made here:

Register for the course here:


The British Hen Welfare Trust: Notes to Editors


  • The British Hen Welfare Trust was established in 2005 by Jane Howorth and is Britain’s first registered charity concerned with rehoming laying hens while improving hen welfare across commercial and domestic sectors.
  • Jane Howorth was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list.
  • In the UK there are approximately 16 million hens kept in colony cages. The BHWT has so far found retirement homes as pets for over 870,000 ex-commercial hens, all of which were destined for slaughter.
  • The British Hen Welfare Trust has 46 pop-up collection points across the UK
  • The British Hen Welfare Trust has 1,200 volunteers.
  • The British Hen Welfare Trust educates consumers about caged eggs hidden in processed foods, like pasta, quiches, cakes, and mayonnaise, helping them make informed choices when shopping.
  • The British Hen Welfare Trust works closely with DEFRA and other agencies to develop practices and protocols to improve the lives of both commercially-farmed and hobbyist pet hens.
  • The British Hen Welfare Trust works closely with business leaders of the British Egg Industry to influence hen welfare.

For photos and to arrange interviews please contact:

Kathryn Howard
PR Officer
Direct line:  01884 840631


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