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Don't Kiss Chickens! Can Chickens Make You Sick?

Don't Kiss Chickens! Can Chickens Make You Sick?

How To: Avoid Catching Illnesses From Your Chickens

Chickens make wonderful pets! But like all animals, chickens can carry diseases which can be caught by people. 

But if you practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands after visiting the chicken coop, you are very unlikely to ever get sick from your chickens. In fact, dogs and cats are more of a risk for many pet owners because people have much closer contact with them and are less likely to wash their hands every time they touch them!

When it comes to carrying diseases, chickens don't pose any more of a risk to humans than most other animals that people keep for pets. 

But practicing good hygiene when keeping chickens, including keeping the coop clean, is important for keeping your and your family safe. Here are some simple tips to avoid catching anything from your chickens.

Protecting yourself from chicken illnesses

Chickens can carry a range of diseases that can infect humans, including salmonella and E. coli. 

Our kids treat our chickens as pets, and can spend hours in the chicken run with them. But not one of us has ever caught anything from a chicken. This isn’t just good luck. It’s good hygiene.

Diseases that can be shared between chickens and humans are preventable. Protecting yourself is easy: wash your hands after going into the chicken coop. And don't kiss the chickens! It’s so simple!

How to prevent germs from the chicken coop spreading

Fortunately, it is very easy to ensure you never catch anything from a chicken. Preventing the transmission of germs from your chickens is the first step.

You can prevent the transmission of germs from chickens by:

  • Thoroughly washing your hands with soap after having been in the coop, handling birds or handling anything used in the coop such as tools and containers
  • Avoiding close contact with unwell birds
  • Never keeping chickens in the house. If you need to keep an unwell bird or new chicks in the house, put them in the garage or an unused room
  • Wearing a mask and wetting down litter and poop when cleaning the coop
  • Washing your clothes and hair after cleaning the coop
  • Never wearing shoes from the coop into the house
  • Keeping chickens off verandas and out of any outdoor eating areas
  • Following best practice guidelines for dirty eggs

Other common-sense rules that we apply to keep healthy are not eating in the coop and never kissing the chickens!

How to maintain a clean chicken coop

Maintaining a clean coop protects your flock from most common chicken illnesses, but it will also protect you! Here are some key tips for a hygienic chicken coop:

  • Clean the coop regularly
  • Dispose of mouldy or wet litter straight away
  • Never leave uneaten food on the ground
  • Keep wild birds and rodents away from the chicken feeder and drinker
  • Worm your chickens at least twice a year
  • Sanitise the coop after cleaning with a disinfectant, particularly if your chickens have been ill
  • Compost droppings and litter under cover so that flies cannot breed
  • Keep the coop dry

Why you need to wash your hands

We don’t want to put you off keeping chickens. They are a step towards self-sufficiency that we need now more than ever. And they make great family pets! But it’s important to understand why good hygiene is so important. Chickens carry bacteria and diseases that can be passed on to humans. Some illnesses shared by chickens and humans are:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Bird flu or avian influenza
  • Worms and other parasites

The good news? Washing your hands, and practicing good hygiene, helps to keep you and your family safe!

If this article has helped you, share it with your friends. Don't forget, we have hand picked the below links for other related articles that you may find useful for caring for your chickens.

Happy chicken keeping!

Rachael at Dine a Chook 

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