Lots of boys and girls dream about being a veterinarian. Why? Because so many would love to work with animals. Yet only a few choose the path of the poultry veterinarian–and Mike Petrik is one of them. Blogging under the name Mike the Chicken Vet, Petrik is passionate about caring for chickens. It’s a job that takes him across Ontario, working with egg farmers in every corner of the province.
Mike graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1998, then earned his Master’s in 2014. It’s a job he loves because “there is no such thing as a day in the life.” Every day is a little bit different. One day he is setting up and monitoring vaccine programs; the next, he is visiting farms and working with farmers and their hens.
It’s that on-farm work that is one of the best parts of Mike’s job. “I’ll stand at the front of the barn for five or ten minutes and listen to the birds–when they’re content, there is a real sound to a barn. They cluck, they make a lot of noise.”
So, what inspires someone to become a chicken vet? “I grew up on a poultry farm,” Mike remembers. “From the time I was 4 years old, I helped manage a farm. I’ve done all the jobs I ask any of my producers to do.” So why not just become a farmer? Mike laughs–“I’m not wired to be a farmer. I enjoy having Christmas day to myself. But I wanted to be in the industry and I want to be involved. I have a strong interest in animal welfare.”
When it comes to caring for hens, there is no greater partner than the farmers themselves. From that perspective, and from endless hours of experience working one-on-one with Canadian farmers, Canada gets top marks from Mike.
At the core of our success is supply management and security for farmers. “Canada performs very well in terms of animal welfare,” Mike argues, “and the nice thing about the way our system works, it provides a steady income to the farmers. Our ability to invest in the best technology available–computer control, alarms that call your cellphone, etc.–is made possible because you have a good idea that you can pay them off.”
Whether you’re an egg farmer or a hen vet like Mike, animal welfare is a top priority for everyone in the industry. After all, we’re all passionate about caring for hens. It’s simply the Canadian way of doing things.