Chickens live in coops and barns, and people live in houses. A rule that should be followed for good reason… but isn’t always.
Keeping a chicken in the house is absolutely definitely not okay! Nevertheless, people do it all the time. While you enjoy the benefits of backyard chickens and other poultry, it is important to consider the risk of illness, especially for children, which can result from handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
I’ve seen chick brooders in kitchens, family rooms, and even in bedrooms where children sleep. Worse yet, there are pics of mature chickens all over the internet roaming free in family households. Even a short visit from a curious chicken that wanders through an open back door tells me there are serious flaws in a chicken keeper’s set-up.
There should always be what I call a clean area between the coop and a family home. There shouldn’t be a trace of chicken poop in the clean area, not even from your footwear. It’s a good practice to leave your boots outside the clean area, this will help keep contaminants at bay. Poultry droppings should never be present where they can be tracked into the house or where children play.
As far as baby chicks go, they don’t need to be inside your home. Radiant heat or a heat lamp in a garage or barn that protects them from drafts is perfectly suitable. If it isn’t, then chicks are being purchased at the wrong time of the year. Buy in the spring when it’s easier to manage temperatures.
You can never be sure chicks shipped from hatcheries are healthy. In a recent outbreak, more than 350 people were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar across 43 states, and 33% were hospitalized. The majority of these cases were from mail-order chicks shipped to backyard chicken keepers.
Whether chicks from a hatchery, the neighbor’s pampered flock, or your very own birds, be safe, and responsible, keep them in their own area, and out of the family home.
People get sick from Salmonella through hand-to-mouth contact. Usually, this happens when people handle birds or their droppings and then accidentally touch their mouths or forget to wash their hands before eating or drinking.
Even birds that do not look sick may be shedding Salmonella. And even though a bird looks clean, it may still have germs like Salmonella on its feathers or feet.
Safety Tips for Poultry Keepers
- Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
- Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
- Don’t let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios. In recent outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry, ill people reported bringing live poultry into their homes.
Disinfectants for Good Poultry Housekeeping
• Roccal®: Mix 1/2 fluid oz of Roccal per gallon of water.
• Nolvasan® (chlorhexidine diacetate 2 percent): Mix
• 3 fluid oz of Nolvasan per gallon of water.
• Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent):
• Mix 3/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
• Lysol® spray for footwear
• Purell® hand pump for hand disinfection