Maintaining the hygiene of your flock is an important aspect of being a responsible backyard chicken keeper.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 316 cases of salmonella poisoning from handling live chickens from 2004 to 2001. Most of the infection were traced to an unidentified mail-order hatchery.
According to Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist for the CDC, “A perfectly healthy chicken can shed salmonella bacteria.”
“People know to wash their hands after they handle raw chicken from the grocery store, but forget that live chickens can carry salmonella germs too.” Dr Behravesh said.
Despite the concerns you can avoid the risks of salmonella and other health risks by doing a few simple things such as washing your hands with soap and water after handling your backyard chickens, washing the birds’ bowls outside and not allowing children to bring chickens into the house.
The following is some tips and guide to help maintain good flock hygiene for both your chickens and your family.
Clean your chicken coop and chicken runs every 1-2 weeks
Start by removing the chickens from the coop and lock them out. Make sure you wear some gloves because it can get messy.
Remove the roosts and place them in the sun.
With a dust pan remove the soiled pine shavings or whatever you choose to line your coop with and put them in the compost bin.
Wipe down the surfaces of the coop with a water and white vinegar mixture. There is always some caked on poop that needs a bit of scrubbing.
Next you will want to disinfect the coop using a broad spectrum virucidal all purpose disinfecting formula and cleaner.
After the coop is disinfected give everything a spray with Mann Pro’s Poultry Protector to prevent mites and lice.
Finally replace the flooring with fresh pine shavings and sprinkle around a nesting box blend. Nesting Box Blends is a strong and aromatic blend of natural flowers, herbs and leaves with strong antibacterial, parasitic and insecticide properties.
Have a dedicated pair of rubber boots and disinfect them regularly
Caretakers or others who need to come in contact with your flock should change their footwear and wear a pair of rubber boots you keep outside the run dedicated for ‘visitors’.
Set up a footbath for disinfecting boots.
Fill the boot bath with a mix of 3/4 Cup bleach per gallon of water. Also keep a stiff brush nearby. Ask friends who come to visit to first scrub their boots to remove caked on dirt and manure and then to stand in the foot bath and scrape the bottom of their boots on the mat before approaching your chicken area. It’s also good practice to use it yourself any time you enter or exit the run. (Rinse and refill as needed as the bath gets dirty.)
Wash your hands after handling your chickens
Wash your hands with soap and water after handling your backyard chickens.
Alternatively keep waterless hand sanitizer in or near your run – and use it often. Also keep one in your car and use it after visiting the feed store.
Wash your home grown food
Wash eggs before you put them in the refrigerator. And don’t let the chickens run freely in the vegetable garden during the growing season.
Make sure you wash vegetables that you have grown in your garden if they are in the vicinity of the chickens also.
Biosecurity of your flock is important. This article from fresheggsdaily.com says it better than we could so we recommend reading this.
Keep chickens outside
Finally, keep your chickens outside. Children tend to want to bring them inside particularly when it is cold. Tell the kids the chickens do keep warm outside in the chicken coop in the winter!
Good hygiene comes down to common sense and it is an important part of keeping happy backyard chickens and a happy healthy family.