A university in Scotland is to be the first in the UK to offer a specialist veterinary course in poultry welfare.
University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Vete-rinary Studies will offer the course in poultry disease and welfare, as an option for final-year students.
According to the university, there is now a rising demand nationwide for more vets specialising in poultry. This demand has increased with the growth of the poultry sector in recent years. With the threat of bird flu, poultry farmers are also more in need of specialist veterinary advice. Dr Barry Thorp, course co-ordinator, commented: "There are now around 170 vets registered with the British Veterinary Poultry Association and the need for poultry vets is increasing, not least with the move to organic and
free-range farming, where the likelihood of disease is increased because of exposure to wild birds. There is also the issue of avian flu and how this should be handled if there were ever a major outbreak."
Professor Elaine Watson, head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, added: "Commercial poultry and game birds make up a large part of the livestock industry and contribute significantly to the rural economy and employment. Running this course will not only give veterinary students greater skills but it will also respond to needs of the agricultural sector."