Newbie questions


8 Years
Feb 22, 2011
Spokane, WA
We were at the feed store getting shavings and ogling the chicks (we have ours already, but man were they tempting!) when I read a sign about 'precautions' around poultry. They seem sorta crazy to me...but then again I think of life in general as rather low risk compared to others. The chickens should not be kissed/put near your face etc. Thought I'd check in for some opinions. Have healthy preschool aged kids and DH and I have no health concerns.

What really is the risk of handling poop/chick dust? I put our chicks on old, but still in circulation towels (beach towels and ones we use for wiping off the dog feet) and we also put them on old sheets (that may or may not someday be put on a bed. They are just not my 'good' ones) when we let them out to play in the living room. I just wash these in my washing machine and call it good. A little tea tree oil in the wash and vinegar in the rinse. Good enough? Or so gross we should burn the towels?
We all wash our hands when we hold the chicks or work with them, but that is the extent of it. I shake off the poop to the best of my ability before things go in the wash.

Unrelated question....I can't seem to get a real time line on how long I should expect these little guys to be in the house. We just had a new foot of snow and temps are still regularly dropping to the teens at night, daytime highs are in the 20's. What is the criteria for them being out/in coop for both daytime and overnight? Daytime temps for 4-5 weeks? Overnight temps for after that age?

Can I expect to keep them in a large breed dog crate for the duration of their stay indoors? If temps are adequate and they can get some (protected by wire) lawn time during the day at 4-6 weeks and be in the crate for evening/ night will it last?

We have 4 chicks.

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on your new baby chicks!!!

I would not put my face/eyes near a full grown chicken... even my own chickens. They are very quick to peck at things. And I like my eyes....

Do you have a coop and run built yet?
I am in Tucson AZ, so my chicks were able to be in the coop from the start
with a heat lamp for night temperatures. I am blessed with mostly nice
weater. Though we did have some nights in the teens here lately.

I got a very nice infrared lamp for the coop. I only use it when it is
32 or below here.
It doesnt sound like you are putting you or the kids at any real risk with the chicks. If you maintain basic cleanliness, you will be fine. I think I would not use towels or sheets in my brooder and then use them in my house for family use, dog use is fine though. If you are using bleach and hot water when you do wash those items, I think its fine. If I was a guest in your home, I WOULDNT want to know that chickens had been pooping on my towel, sheets, or pillow cases- kinda a big EWWWW factor (despite being clean and sanitized, its still a kind of mental icky thing). You can just use shavings or newspaper (not the slick ads though), or pellet animal bedding (all can be recycled into garden mulch). Chick dust is very messy, gets everywhere, and can be a major source of allergies, so it does need to be wiped off surfaces and kept to a minimum in the home. Animal bedding can help with it, but it will get everywhere.

Chicks need to be very warm and out of drafts for at least 6 weeks, 8 is even better. They need to be FULLY feathered before they can handle life outside without a heat lamp or source of heat. You could hook up a heat lamp and a brooder in your garage maybe, and they would probably be fine till they are feathered and the weather gets warmer.
x2 and in your house you will notice the dust after about a week!

I think you will be fine as far as getting close/snuggling the chicks. How many do you have? They grow fast and if you have ~5 chicks and a large dog kennel, they will outgrow it in a couple of weeks.

If you only let them out for a little while for play time, you'll probably be OK as far as poo goes, a lot of times it's dry and you can just pick it up, maybe could put down newspaper instead. Just don't use newspaper in the brooder. They need traction, like paper towels or shaving, but you probably already know that.

Folks on here are around poop all the time. It's going to get on you, and you'll be OK. Just wash it off.

Good luck!
Sounds like you're up north like us. We got more than two feet of snow last week, and an ice storm last night. Our brooder is set up in my office right behind me, between my husband's work area and mine. When they're a little bigger, they are moving to the basement, where they'll have an enclosed area for themselves until it's warm enough to take them out. Our children know that they must wash their hands after AND before handling the chicks. They've also been told that they're not to bring the chicks up to their face because chicks are curious little birds who'll peck at their eyes really quickly, just to see if your eyes are edible.

As for the linens, to be honest I wouldn't even use them for the dog. If you insist on using towels and sheets, designate them as ONLY for the chicks (use a big old Sharpie and write CHICK LINENS across each one, just so it can't get mixed up with other laundry). Use plenty of hot water with bleach to clean them. Don't worry if the color bleaches out. The chicks won't care. Like a PP said, I wouldn't personally use linens but newspaper instead, which can be tossed onto the compost heap afterwards vs having to use the washer where my family's clothes and table/bath linens are washed.

Newspaper is fine in your brooder, but only to line the brooder. Make sure you cover the newspaper with at least two inches of pine shavings. When it's time to clean the brooder, just roll up the paper with the shavings and poop, and toss it onto your compost pile. Easy clean up!
Thanks for the speedy and thoughtful replies! so I hear what you are saying re: the poop and want to chicken poop grosser more 'dirty' than human? I mean...we use cloth diapers and wash accidentally pooped in clothes and dipes in the washing machine where we wash the rest of our clothes. I was raised on a small farm and recall many a piglet, goat and even a calf being in the laundry room for one reason or another (while being nursed back to health) and I'm sure my mom did not have dedicated linens for this. I know she didn't use our daily towels and such but I'm sure they were occasionally used at the beach or in the sprinklers to dry us off.

It's not as though I wash diapers and chicken towels with our dishtowels......

So is washing your child poopy underwear or diapers in the washing machine worse than a chicken pooped on sheet/towel? Just wondering what the 'real' risk is rather than the idea of it being icky.

I get the pecking thing for not wanting to hold the chicks close to your eyes/face, but it seems as though the sign I saw was for health risk vs injury risk. real health risk in getting close to chicks it seems.

We want to love on them as much as possible and I really wondered if I was missing out on some critical info about baby chick to human disease transmission.

It looks as though I'm going to need some transitional housing for the chicks in a few weeks.

The sign was most likely posted for "liability purposes". In case someone would get some dread disease, they wouldn't be able to sue for damages, since they were warned ahead of time.
I *think* there is a disease (maybe salmonella? IDK for sure which it is) that chicks could potentially pass to a human if they were to peck at poop, or walk on poop, and then you can get it on your hands, then to your face, or a chick could peck your lip while you are cuddling and potentally pass something on. Also, chick dust can cause allergic reations in the eyes, or even some 'stuff' could give you an eye infection, but its not really likely, and in todays society, business' are forced to do all they can to reduce their risk to exposure to lawsuits.

I'm not sure about the linen thing. I guess, if you use bleach and hot water, it wouldnt really be a contamination issue for your family. I mean, in all honesty (and in all reality for those with kids) I'm sure we all have sheets and towels that have seen some pretty yucky human stuff on them, and not all of us can afford to go out and buy new towels and sheets every time the baby has explosive diarrea with vomiting. We just wash 'em and move on with life.

But to intentionally let animals defecate on items we use on, or close to, our nekkid skin just rubs most folks the wrong way. Not that the items arent clean, or sanitized, its just not something we would do and then let people know about, or something we would do intentionally, if we have a choice.

I'm sure life on the farm involved alot of sacrifice and 'having to make do with what we have', but in todays day and age, most would prefer not to practice such habits.

So, CAN you use towels and sheets for chicks and then for people? Sure, I guess. Would I do it ? No, I'd probably just dig up some dirt outta the yard first.
It looks like a situation of essentially different strokes for different folks. I'll be sure to never open my mouth about a chick having used a towel if company ever stumbles into a need to use it!

The ick factor is really the only factor it seems. We are comfortable with a little ick I think.

Thanks for the replies and thoughts! I've moved on to shavings for the brooder and the chicks are mostly pooping on *me* rather than the towel on the floor......lots less laundry being made!


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