7 Safety Practices for Handling Backyard Chickens


Tracy LynnWhen you first bring home new chickens, more often than not your biggest concern is their safety. Today, however, we are going to talk about the safety of ourselves and our families.

Let’s face it, there is nothing quite as cute as a baby chick. Small and fluffy, you just want to nuzzle and kiss them. With all that cuteness going on, it can be easy to forget that live poultry may carry harmful germs such as Salmonella. This includes not only chickens but ducks, geese, and turkeys as well.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Although most folks recover on their own, those with a weakened immune system and the very young or old, may require hospitalization.

If a bird carries Salmonella germs, more often than not, they will show no obvious signs. This can make it tricky to spot. A good rule of thumb is, “treat them like they do, so you don’t get it too.” It is commonly believed that the risk of getting sick all lies with the eggs, however, most infections actually happen when people are handling the birds themselves.

Now, this doesn’t mean that your dreams of gathering eggs from your very own chickens is dashed. Not at all. It is important to be aware of what can happen so you can take precautions to ensure they do not. 

7 Safety Practices for Handling Backyard Poultry

1. Wash your hands.

Your number one weapon in fighting germs is a good old-fashioned hand wash. It goes without saying that washing your hands after handling any animal is a good practice, but this is particularly true with poultry. Get into the habit of always washing your hands after handling your birds and be sure to use a good supply of soap when doing so. If you have young children that will be in contact with your birds on a regular basis, teach them to wash up immediately after.   

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