Contact Victoria

Victoria Roberts BVSc MRCVS: premier backyard poultry vet

We had a large vegetable garden where I was brought up in the lovely countryside of Suffolk, plus hens for eggs and at the age of 4, it was my job to stop the turkeys fighting – I was too small to lift the usual bucket of water which was very effective in quelling their aggression and so I was given a railway bell instead – just as effective.

I have always been happiest surrounded by animals, but my very old-fashioned father did not want me to be a vet as he was afraid I would be stuck in a city only treating cats and dogs. In those days you did not argue, but it took me a good many years to realize that my career was in fact within my control.

Moving to Worcestershire in the early 1980s and running an outdoor pure breed poultry tourist attraction covering 12 ha with all the breeds of chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, about 3000 birds, was inordinately hard work and I was not only breeding and looking after the birds but running the business as well. I was frustrated that I could not do enough for either the poultry or our farm animals and so eventually decided that I would investigate becoming a vet. Of course, I had originally taken the wrong A levels, so took four science ones in a year. I moved to Yorkshire and began training at Liverpool in 1995, starting teaching birds there in 1998 and gradually increased teaching time to include anatomy and physiology, dissection and handling of both birds and small furries, plus diseases and treatments. After graduation in 2000, I decided that being a small animal locum would give me the flexibility to both concentrate on the animals and continue my other interests which include writing books on poultry, so my experiences of 45 years of breeding, showing and judging poultry can be passed on.

I set out to be a vet with the objective of improving the welfare of backyard poultry as it is a rising hobby, vets now needing this specialized information to cope with the increasing number of pet chickens that are presented to them, diseases and disorders often caused by owner ignorance. My lecture circuit now includes vets, vet students, pet shops, chicken magazines and vet practices who invite interested clients to learn more about poultry.