Q: How is Salmonella infection transmitted to chickens in the first place?
A: You probably don't have to worry about well cared for backyard hens getting ill with salmonella if you provide a clean environment for them. Hens in factory farms usually get infected because they have eaten rat droppings from the conveyor belt that carries their feed.
Apart from rat and rodent droppings, chicks can hatch ill with salmonella, having had it passed to them by their mothers. Chickens that are purchased at auctions, shows or other places may pass an illness into your own flock. Chickens that are ill with Salmonella can also pass it to other flock members if their waterers or feed get soiled with droppings--or they may even pass it along through feather dander.
But always remember, too, that your hens don't have to be sick with salmonella to pass bacteria to you, so when you pick up your bird who has been walking in and pecking around poopy litter, wash your hands... the same way you'd wash your hands if your dog--who has been nibbling on canine-enticing cat poop in the yard--licks your fingers with doggy love. Use common sense.
The Center for Disease Control suggests these precautions for reducing the chance of contracting Salmonella:
(Yes, My Pet Chicken's hatchery is NPIP certified)!
- Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise handwashing by young children. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
- Don’t let live poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
- Don’t let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, or people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
- Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
- Avoid kissing your birds or snuggling them, and then touching your mouth.
- Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers.
- Buy birds from hatcheries that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. voluntary Salmonella Monitoring Program. This program is intended to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in baby poultry in the hatchery, which helps prevent the spread of illness among poultry and people.