people are keeping chickens in their urban and suburban
backyards, and I don’t think it’s just because they
enjoy the fresh eggs. It would be cheaper and easier to
just buy eggs at the grocery store.
people view backyard chickens as pets, not livestock.
Chickens have distinct personalities, and they will
respond to people who feed them and show them attention
how many of these "new" chicken farmers know
what they’re doing? There’s a wealth of free
information available on the website of Penn Vet — the
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
school has sent a news release with 12 important tips
because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention reports people have been sickened by
salmonella after coming in contact with backyard
total of 324 people in 35 states got salmonella from
Jan. 4 through May 11. More than 90 percent had contact
with chickens, according to the CDC, and 27 percent of
salmonella victims were young children.
in a July 19 update, that number of salmonella cases had
almost doubled to 611 in 45 states.
are several important tips that can keep chicken keepers
and their families healthy. They come from Sherrill
Davison, a Penn Vet professor and veterinarian who has
worked with chickens for more than 30 years.
all poultry have salmonella in their intestines,"
Davison said. But some chickens who are not ill do have
salmonella in their intestinal tracts, which can be
passed on to people.
After tending your chickens, remove your shoes or boots
before entering your home. Wear them only in your
chicken yard — and nowhere else.
Do not bring chickens into your home.
Wash your hands after handling chickens.
Do not let chickens near food that will be eaten by
Keep the coop clean. Change bedding every one-to-two
weeks and disinfect with diluted household bleach or
cleaners formulated for chickens. Chickens should be out
of the coop when cleaners are used.
Isolate birds that seem sick. Your garage is an OK sick
bay. Your house is not.
chickens need veterinary care. For names of vets who
know how to treat chickens, contact the Penn Vet
Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology:
to the lab are free, and the staff will also answer
questions and concerns, "though I cannot diagnose
over the phone," said Davison, who is director of
vets are seeing an increase in backyard chickens with
Marek’s disease and Mycoplasma. Neither disease is
transmitted to people or pets that are not chickens.
disease is an untreatable virus that causes tumors,
weight loss and paralysis. Chickens won’t get it if
they are vaccinated when they are 1 day old.
is a bacterial-like respiratory disease that can be
treated with antibiotics, but it will decrease egg
production for the life of the chicken.
good care, chickens generally live five to six years,
Davison said, although one of her patients lived for 10
years. Chickens raised on egg farms are only allowed to
live for one to two years — their peak egg production