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American Veterinarian: Unregulated Backyard Chickens Pose Health Risk, Study Says

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A UC Davis study is calling for more regulations regarding chickens being raised in urban and suburban settings.

By Amanda Carrozza
American Veterinarian
March 12, 2018


While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Americans who currently raise chickens in urban and suburban environments, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey of homeowners in 4 major US cities (Denver, Los Angeles Miami, New York City) found that 0.8% owned chickens in 2013. An additional 4% said they planned to own chickens in the next 5 years, and nearly 40% were in favor of allowing chickens in their communities and would not mind if their neighbors owned chickens.

But what are the health ramifications? According to the UC Davis study, “provisions governing animal slaughter and routine veterinary care are rare, presenting a concern for monitoring and intervening in public health crises.” Yet, while over half of the respondents in the USDA survey believed that chickens in urban areas will lead to more illnesses in humans, most believed that eggs from home-raised chickens are better for you than eggs purchased at a grocery store. In fact, only 10.5% of Denver respondents strongly agreed with the statement that chickens in urban areas will lead to more illnesses in humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begs to differ. In an October 2017 report from the Associated Press, the CDC confirmed that more than 1100 people that year had contracted Salmonella poisoning from chickens and ducks. Almost 250 were hospitalized and 1 person died—a rate that was 4 times higher than in 2015.

Read the complete article here.

Study cited: A Method for Guarding Animal Welfare and Public Health: Tracking the Rise of Backyard Poultry Ordinances