Backyard poultry like chickens and ducks are becoming increasingly popular. The popularity has greatly increased the demand for chicks year round, not just in the spring. A Connecticut chicken breeder stated that last year she only sold about 5,000 chicks and this year she has sold hundreds of thousands.The desire for self-reliance and dissatisfaction with the poultry industry has skyrocketed the number of backyard chickens nationwide.
The benefits of having chickens outweigh the risks. Chicken feces makes excellent compost, they eat unwanted bugs, and they produce fresh eggs and meat. Chickens are remarkably smart and can be trained to do tricks much like a pet dog. For many people, chickens are more than just a food source, they are pets. Chickens are welcomed into homes and snuggled by loving children. Unfortunately, this close proximity with poultry can make people sick.
Parents tell their children not to eat raw cookie dough because it could contain salmonella. The same goes for handling chickens or pet reptiles. Always wash your hands after handling chickens. Never allow chickens to touch your face.
According to the The New York Times, backyard chickens and ducks are responsible for infecting 961 people with Salmonella poisoning just this year. Many people who contract Salmonella recover after just a few days of fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. However, some require hospitalization and for some, it can even be fatal. This year 200 people were hospitalized, with one documented death.
Most people believe eggs from backyard chickens are healthier than store-bought, however, that is not the case. Commercial poultry factories are inspected regularly by the Food and Drug Administration and have to meet specific guildless. Backyard chickens don't have to meet these FDA regulations and as such are more likely to contain salmonella. Taking a few simple precautions will greatly reduce your risk of a salmonella infection.
Reduce your risk of Salmonella
- Always wash your hands after handling chickens or ducks
- Wear different boots and clothes when working in the chicken coop
- Don't keep chickens in your home
- Don't eat or drink near the chickens
- Avoid cuddling and kissing the chickens
- Clean the chicken coop regularly