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A Veterinary Surgeon may prescribe medications only to birds that are under his / her care.

For the birds to be considered to be under his / her care a veterinary surgeon must have been given responsibility for the birds by the owner or the owner’s agent. In addition the veterinary surgeon must have acquired from personal knowledge and inspection an up to date picture of the current health status of the birds. Hence it is not legal for veterinary surgeons to supply medicines on demand for birds about which they have no detailed knowledge.

This discussion of medications is for information only, and is not to be used as an aid to diagnosis or treatment, nor as a replacement for Professional advice from your Veterinary Surgeon.

Medication of Birds - General Principles

As domestic fowl are often supplying eggs for human consumption they must be are considered food animals so it is important that medicines are supplied according to legal requirements.

The ‘cascade system’ of dispensing drugs by Veterinary Surgeons restricts sales to medicines that are licensed to a specific condition in a specific species. If a suitable product is not available, a Veterinary Surgeon may use an alternative product according to a set formula.

This limits the products used for treating birds that are producing eggs. If suitable medication is not available then a veterinary surgeon may prescribe a non-licensed medicine under the ‘cascade system’ providing that eggs (or meat) are not consumed within a set period.

All medicines used to treat domestic fowl must be obtained from an approved source:

Routes of administration

Medicines may be administered via the food, the drinking water or by injection (for individual birds).

Vaccines may be administered via the drinking water, spray, eye drops or injection.

The use of the correct medicine is essential to ensure the welfare of the birds. Treatment should always follow veterinary diagnosis of the condition as many diseases give a similar clinical picture.

The route of administration depends upon:

          1. The medicine being used.
          2. The number of birds being treated 
          3. The practicalities of the particular site.

Food medication requires a Veterinary Prescription (MFS) which must be obtained before the food is made and it is usually not practicable for small numbers of domestic fowl.

General Rules and Guidelines

  1. Use medicines only as advised by your Veterinary Surgeon, Pharmacist or Agricultural Merchant. Do not mix medicines without taking veterinary advice and ensure that withdrawal periods for all medicines are strictly adhered to.
  2. 2.  Read and follow the guidelines given with the medicine

    3.  All medicines used should be recorded for future reference.

    4.  Store all medicines according to manufacturer’s instructions.

    5.  Do not store medicines in the same fridge as food and drink.

    6. Ensure that the cupboard or room in which medicines are stored is kept locked when not in use.

    7. Ensure all medicines are stored in a dark cupboard or room.

    8. Ensure that medicines are kept out of the sight and reach of children at all times.


Sandhill Veterinary Services 14 Long Street, Topcliffe YO7 3RW telephone 01845 578710 fax 01845 577685 email