Can chickens make you sick?
Given current events, we are more grateful than ever that we took up chicken keeping. Not only did it lead to the wonderful Dine a Chook community, but the birds provide hours of amusement when we are stuck at home. And daily fresh eggs are so reassuring when faced with social distancing and grocery stockpiling.
But despite all of the benefits, chickens can make you sick. It’s uncommon, but chickens carry a number of diseases that affect humans, from salmonella to avian influenza.
Fortunately, it is easy to ensure that you don’t get sick from your chickens. All it takes are some very simple precautions, like washing your hands!
Chicken coop hygiene
The kids treat our chooks as pets. But not one of us has ever caught anything from a chicken. And this isn’t down to 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. It’s so simple!
Prevent the transmission of germs by:
- Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water 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
- Wearing a mask when cleaning the coop
- Washing your clothes and hair after cleaning the coop
Other common-sense rules that we apply to keep healthy are not eating in the coop and not wearing shoes from the coop into the house.
Good practice for backyard chicken keepers
Maintaining a clean coop also helps prevent illnesses from spreading. 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 by using a disinfectant spray
- Compost droppings and litter under cover so that flies cannot breed
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:
- Bird flu or avian influenza
- Worms and other parasites
You can prevent some of these diseases by practicing good chicken coop maintenance.
The good news? Washing your hands, and practicing good hygiene, helps to keep you safe!
If this article has helped you, share it with your friends and perhaps leave a comment below. Don't forget, we have hand picked the below links for other related articles that you may find useful for Caring for your chicken environment.
Happy Chicken Keeping
Rachael at Dine A Chook Australia