Backyard Chickens and Salmonella Prevention

Rosemary and I wrinkling our noses over the thought of salmonella poisoning!

We have all heard horror stories of people getting salmonella poisoning. And believe it or not, your feathered flock can be one of the main contributors to this unfortunate bacteria. I’m going to do my best to explain this in easy-to-understand words. Remember, I’m not an expert, I’m just a backyard chicken keeper who happens to have access to some great people who are experts in the poultry field!

The CDC estimates “Salmonella bacteria causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year. Food is the source for most of these illnesses.”

Yikes! So, what does this mean for us who raise backyard chickens? Honestly, simple hygiene and careful attention to how you handle your eggs will more than likely prevent this unwanted bacterial poisoning.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that is found in the intestines and feces (poop) of animals and humans.

Most people who get ill from Salmonella have diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.

Symptoms usually begin 6 hours to 6 days after infection and can last 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without specific treatment.

Some people’s illness may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized.

Salmonella poisoning can be fatal, but it’s rare.

The CDC recommends children under 5 not handling poultry. Why? Because kids, especially those under 5, are more likely than adults to get sick from Salmonella. Why do you suppose this is? Well, I’ve raised 3 kids and when they were younger, they had a hard time keeping their hands out of their mouth and off of their face!

However, I’m in multiple chicken groups and I see all the pictures of your sweet kids holding and helping you raise your backyard flock. I love it! Our kids were very involved with raising our chickens as well starting at a young age. I think the biggest thing to remember is to keep a close eye on your little ones. Good hand washing and disinfecting will save the day when it comes to preventing Salmonella. Older adults and people with weak immune systems are also more likely to be infected. Wash your hands people! Don’t let this itty bitty bacteria prevent you or others from loving on your flock!

Ways to Prevent Salmonella Poisoning

1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Wash your hands!

Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or their eggs.

Parents, supervise your kids handwashing.

Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Keep some in your coop to make it easy to access.

2. Be safe around poultry.

Don’t kiss your chickens. Save those kisses for your spouse or kids!

Don’t let backyard poultry in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

Have 1 pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.

Take extra care when washing out feeders, waters, or anything poultry related. Use hot, soapy water! And, if possible, wash items outside.

Keep your coop clean. Use Coop Recuperate!

3. Supervise kids around poultry.

Always supervise children around poultry. You want your flock to be safe from little ones who don’t know how to handle them.

Supervise children while they wash their hands before and after being with your flock.

One last time, proper handwashing is a MUST!

4. Egg Safety

Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.

Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg through a cracked shell. Don’t be tempted to just use them. Throw them!

Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.

If you wash your eggs, wash them with warm water because colder water can pull germs into the egg.

If you wash your eggs, make sure to refrigerate them.

Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

Check out this short video for everything else you need to know about eggs!

Remember, simple handwashing and paying attention to how we handle our feathered friends and their yummy eggs will go a long way in preventing salmonella poisoning.

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

Published by Annie

Annie Wing is the author of Strong Animals Chicken 101 blog. She is a busy mom with 3 active kids. Annie and her family reside on an acreage in the Redwood River Valley in Minnesota. She enjoys gardening and her absolute favorite pastime is doting on her 28 chickens!