Cat time! Just kidding. Chicken time!

We got a couple of chickens in a fancy chicken coop for laying eggs. They’re a crazy little pair but it’s nice. However, chickens can carry salmonella, so it’s always best to handle the chickens and their eggs with plenty of care.

Because salmonella are germs primarily found in chicken feces, it’s best to wash your hands as soon as possible after handling chickens, including their eggs, feathers, nesting material, litter, etc. Try not to touch your face or put anything in your mouth after touching chickens without washing your hands first and wear gloves when cleaning their enclosure.

When it comes to the eggs, immediately discard any that are cracked, damaged, or heavily soiled. Don’t wash them with water, as this can encourage bacteria growth that can contaminate the egg. That one I didn’t know. Store eggs in the fridge for up to 6 weeks, so keep them labeled. Make sure you cook them all the way through and NEVER serve raw or under cooked eggs to infants, elderly, or people with weakened immune systems.

Chicken coops should have a layer of sawdust or straw at the bottom at least 8 cm deeps. This is the litter than can be cleaned out and composted later. That’s kind of like cats I guess. Keep your birds safe! I don’t know why, but I didn’t think Australia had foxes. Well it does so make sure they can’t get to your chickens. Fully enclose the chicken run with wire mesh that goes into the ground to prevent foxes from digging in. Also make sure their house is ventilated and safe from wind and rain—if you don’t want to sit outside in it, neither do they.

Along with chicken feed, a lot of people give their birds kitchen scraps, but like most pets, there are a few things you should not give them. Chocolate, onions, and garlic are potentially dangerous for chickens. And as usual, make sure their water and food are clean.

If your chickens seem to be having any issues, looking unwell, breathe noisy, anything, give your vet a call and maybe consider taking them in to see the vet.

Taking care of chickens isn’t particularly difficult; we haven’t had any problem with ours at least. Just make sure to use some common sense and you’ll be fine.

Info: Better Health Victoria: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/keeping-backyard-chickens

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