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Diary of a poultry intern
  1. William Garton


As the gamebird rearing season has begun, poultry intern William Garton is busy with clinical work and health issues involving a variety of avian species.

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As we break into summer the game rearing season takes off and our gamebird clinical work hits us full on. The combination of a valuable commodity, commercial country pursuits and a number of delicate avian species is a formula for lots of postmortem examinations and game farm visits. There are similarities and differences between commercial poultry businesses and game rearing or shooting enterprises. Both are profitable outfits concerned with the production of a saleable product and their bottom line; however, game rearing is seasonal and brings about a renewed sense of urgency and accuracy to achieve the aforementioned themes.

The size of game shoots varies enormously; anywhere between 100 pheasants to tens of thousands of pheasants, partridges and mallards. This presents challenges through mixing of species, but also through the expectations and experience of keepers. I have found the keepers of smaller, independent syndicate shoots require a lot more ‘hand-holding’, presumably because they have fewer birds to focus on and to keep alive to meet the expectations of the paying guns. Being a keen shot myself I enjoy looking after these keepers and their birds, and don't mind offering the extra advice whether at 6 am or 10 pm.

With no particular seasonal trend, but continuing the theme of intense client care, I have examined several pet chickens this month, most with non-specific conditions, in which their owners have required that little bit extra ‘consumer cushioning’. Again, I have enjoyed the opportunity to offer individual patient advice and have savoured the case continuity, follow up appointments and client gratitude. I'd like to think that these infrequent glimpses into the small animal consulting room allow me to keep in touch with the range of clinical requirements the veterinary profession demands, such as being able to adjust your level of clinical terminology and respond to the needs of a client.

My compendium of soft skills continues to grow through the completion of courses offered within my internship. As I write this article I am part way through my latest course, ‘Instructional techniques’, aimed at ‘training the trainer’, with the intention of becoming a competent and effective trainer.

Admittedly, at first glance, I wondered what I could take away from this course. Now, being part way through, I see how this is a pragmatist's approach and how, through techniques such as ‘question tennis’ and ‘role reversal’, I have been able to reflect and appreciate the theoretical approach to learning and, with the aid of my session plans, achieve both the aims and objectives of SMART teaching (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) in order to encompass all learning styles, including those of the ‘activists’. Those who have experienced a similar training course will hopefully be able to pick up on the jargon!

I can already see the short-term benefits of improving my teaching skills by being better prepared to help veterinary students through their rotations at our shared university facilities, but also the longer term aims of successfully delivering effective clinical and non-clinical training to our clients and their employees.

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