Preliminary results from the Agriculture Victoria survey of poultry veterinarians
AUTHOR: Yonatan Segal (Principal Veterinary Officer), Poultry and Emerging Diseases, CVO Unit
In the September 2016 edition of VetWatch, a link was provided to an online survey designed to better understand the frequency of engagement of vets in Victoria with bird species, including domestic poultry. We also aimed to understand the level of collaboration between these vets and Agriculture Victoria and identify tools for improvements.
Firstly, thank you to the 39 participants who responded to the survey. Based on these limited number of respondents, it appears that about 44 per cent of Victorian vets treat birds at least once per month, while 10 per cent of the respondents never see birds at their clinic. Backyard and pet chickens represent 87 per cent and aviary birds 67 per cent of the most commonly treated species. Wild birds are also treated, but only on rare occasions.
When veterinarians were asked about their confidence in identifying common bird diseases, such as Newcastle disease or avian influenza, 35 per cent of respondents indicated that they are somewhat confident, while 21 per cent were not confident at all and none of the respondents felt highly confident. Similar patterns were revealed about the level of knowledge of notifiable bird diseases in Victoria.
It was interesting to note that over the last 5 years, only 13 per cent of respondents used the Significant Disease Investigation (SDI) program, and even then on rare occasions. The majority of respondents (84 per cent) never took advantage of the free laboratory testing services included in this program, ostensibly due to a lack of knowledge about the program. A few respondents also mentioned that the paperwork and time involved in submission is a hurdle.
Usage of the Agriculture Victoria website also did not score very high. Thirty-two per cent of respondents use it on rare occasions, while 46 per cent never use it.
When respondents were asked about their contact with Agriculture Victoria about bird health issues, 65 per cent had never done so, 24 per cent only rarely and 8 per cent from time to time, mainly for disease notification and for general enquiries. The level of interaction in those instances was scored as good.
Eighty-seven per cent of respondents indicated that they would like to receive regular notifications about diseases and training programs in their area, with high preference for communications by emails (42 per cent) and Twitter (33 per cent). Only 9 per cent of respondents prefer to receive information by mail.
Based on these results it has become clear that there is a need to improve the knowledge about bird diseases and the services offered to the veterinary community by Agriculture Victoria through enhanced collaboration and regular exchange of high-quality information.