Backyard Poultry

Backyard Poultry Public Health Safety Tips

Owning backyard chickens can be a fun and educational experience for many people. However, chickens can carry many germs and bacteria such as Salmonella. Even when chickens appear healthy and show no signs of illness, you can still be exposed to germs and bacteria that can make you sick.  

General safety tips

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling chickens
  • Do not allow live poultry in the home, especially in areas where food is stored, prepared, or served
  • Do not kiss or hug a chicken and then touch your face or mouth 
  • Closely supervise children to minimize contact with any fecal matter and ensure proper handwashing after handling chickens.  
  • Do not eat or drink while handling chickens, eggs, or cleaning coops
  • Set aside a pair of shoes dedicated to cleaning the chicken coop and caring for chickens and store these outside the house.

Tips for Safe Handling of Eggs

  • Always wash your hands after handing eggs
  • Keeping a clean coop will help keeps eggs clean
  • Collect often as eggs sitting around for too long can become dirty and break.  Cracked eggs should always be thrown out
  • Eggs with dirt or debris on them can be gently cleaned with a brush or cloth.  Eggs shouldn’t be washed as cold water can pull bacteria inside the egg
  • Refrigerate eggs after collection
  • Thoroughly cook eggs.  Raw and undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you very sick

Do I have Salmonella?

Salmonella bacteria can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever.  If you believe you or your child may be sick with Salmonella contact your medical home immediately.       

Tips For Chicken Care and Maintenance

  • Ensure your chickens have daily access to fresh food and  water 
  • Observe your chickens each day to ensure they appear active and healthy 
  • Collect eggs daily 
  • Clean coop to remove droppings and change bedding in the nesting boxes regularly to minimize odor, prevent bacterial growth, and limit flies.   
  • Store chicken feed in rodent-proof containers to help prevent mice and rats 
  • Deep clean the coop at least twice a year 
  • Regularly inspect the coop and run and make repairs as needed
  • Keep the chickens in the coop each night for their own safety from predators
  • Check the weather to ensure your chickens are prepared for hot days, snow storms, wind, rain, etc.

Healthy Families & Flocks - Poultry Safety Fact Sheet (PDF)

Don't play chicken with your health (PDF)

For more information visit the CDC 

Nashua Ordinances

 It is unlawful for any person, whether as owner, keeper or custodian, to keep and house chickens in an unsanitary manner that presents an imminent hazard to public health. Chickens shall be kept in accordance with all applicable City of Nashua ordinances and regulations, and state laws.

NRO 93-3: Keep and Housing Animals 

NRO 190-311: Keeping of Chickens 

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