Many households across New Zealand keep small numbers of backyard poultry for companionship, breeding, showing, and/or food for home use. However, we know very little about the total size of New Zealand’s backyard poultry population, how these birds are kept, and what disease challenges they face since there is currently no legal requirement for poultry keepers with fewer than 100 birds to register their flock in a national database.
Based on recent surveys we conducted last year with backyard poultry keepers and poultry veterinarians, we know that backyard birds are rarely seen by veterinarians for preventive flock health care advice, and many poultry keepers have difficulty finding veterinary clinics that are willing to treat sick birds. As a result, backyard birds are falling sick with preventable diseases, and some poultry keepers are using unreliable platforms such as the internet and social media to get poultry health care advice. This could be causing harm to their birds. Furthermore, in the event of a natural disaster or disease outbreak, we don’t have enough information about backyard poultry flocks to be able to provide keepers with the support they need to keep their birds healthy.
Recognising the need to build a better picture of backyard poultry in New Zealand and to provide backyard poultry keepers with better support to manage their birds, researchers at the Massey University School of Veterinary Science partnered with government and industry to launch the Poultry Intel project.
Rather than running a one-off survey or creating a static website, we want to work with you to design a ‘living’ information system that provides backyard poultry keepers with:
- secure ways to contribute knowledge about your own birds to help research efforts to solve common poultry problems.
- resources that help you turn the research results into real-world improvements in the health and wellbeing of your birds.
- notifications about emerging disease concerns or natural hazards that could impact the health of your flock.
The first phase of the project running from 10 May 2022 to 15 June 2022, aims to gather information about your opinions on developing a voluntary national poultry health information system and what features would have the most benefits for your birds. If there is enough support from backyard poultry keepers, we have the funding for Phase 2, where we put your ideas into action!
By working together, we can create the best possible future for your flock and many others like it throughout New Zealand.
Join the Poultry Intel Community
The Poultry Intel project team is a growing community of scientists, veterinarians, and backyard poultry keepers who care about the health and wellbeing of your backyard poultry, just like you.
School of Veterinary Science
My name is Carolyn Gates. I am a veterinarian, clinical educator, and researcher at Massey University School of Veterinary Science who cares about finding better ways to help our furred, feathered, and scaled companions have longer, happier, and healthier lives. One of the ways we can do this is by learning more about which diseases are most common in our animals, reasons why they get sick, and what treatments are the most effective for helping them get better. Every time you make observations about your animal’s health at home or bring your animal to the veterinary clinic for a consult, we have the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the best ways to improve their health and wellbeing. My research focuses on developing easier systems to allow animal owners and veterinarians from all across New Zealand to share their unique knowledge. I am particularly interested in working with clients to design tailored preventive health care plans for their animals that address important issues like vaccination, parasite control, nutrition, housing, and environmental enrichment.
I completed my veterinary degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 and worked as a clinical veterinarian in companion animal practice while completing my PhD in veterinary epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. I have been working full-time at Massey University since 2015.
Check out the map below to find current list of poultry veterinarians registered with the Poultry Intel project.
Poultry Intel is pleased to be partnering with the following organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s backyard poultry populations.
Massey University School of Veterinary Science
Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ)
Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand
Companion Animals New Zealand
This project is supported through a Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures grant (SFFF 19-051) from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) with co-funding from the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ) and the Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand (EPF).