Latest Fear Mongering About Self Sufficiency: Salmonella in Backyard Chickens

TDB's picture

Via The Daily Bell

Two years ago I moved to Florida from Massachusetts. When people found out I was moving, they would often immediately remark, “Get ready for the brutal heat and humidity!”

It was their first instinct to bring up any possible negative about moving to a much more pleasant climate.

About a year later, I posted pictures of vegetables we had grown, and chickens we keep. I also mentioned the name we call our mini-farm: Prickly Pear Plantation.

Was the first comment from my progressive liberal friend all about how great it is that we aren’t using any pesticides? Was it about how happy our free-range chickens look, or about how great it is that we aren’t supporting Monsanto? Did he remark on the fact that basically everything we build has some materials recycled from old projects and equipment on the property?

No. He said we shouldn’t call our mini-farm a plantation because it is apparently politically incorrect.

I’ve also had fat people tell me that running is bad for my knees. There actually are some health risks related to too much exercise. And there’s ten times more related to not enough exercise.

It isn’t just peers that seem so eager to bring attention to the negatives in any positive situation.

The media does it too.

I just read a report about how the trend of raising backyard poultry is contributing to a rise in salmonella infections. Fox, the New York Times, NPR and other popular outlets have reported the same thing within the last few months. CBS actually titled their article: “Backyard Chicken Trend Turns Deadly.”

All the reports are based on a Centers for Disease Control warning about the “outbreak” of salmonella among small-scale chicken keepers.

Now I certainly don’t object to good information about staying healthy while raising livestock. A lot of people who keep chickens on a small scale are new to it.

But looking at the numbers of infections, I doubt the salmonella risk is even as great as buying chicken and eggs from the store.

Since January, more than 1,100 people have contracted salmonella poisoning from chickens and ducks in 48 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Almost 250 were hospitalized and one person died. The toll was four times higher than in 2015.

If the trend of keeping chickens is growing, it shouldn’t be surprising that the rates of salmonella infection are keeping pace. And while these numbers may seem high at first glance, over one million people countrywide come down with salmonella a year. So only about one-tenth of 1% of cases stem from people keeping chickens at home.

The general population has a risk of about 1 in 320 of getting salmonella in a given year. That means if there are more than about 320,000 people who keep chickens in their backyards in the USA, they have a lower risk than the general population of contracting salmonella.

There aren’t very reliable statistics on how many people in the U.S. keep chickens for personal use. But a 2013 survey estimated .8% of American households keep backyard chickens. That means about one million households keep chickens. Going with the average household of 2.58 people, you could say perhaps 2.5 million people live in a household that keeps backyard chickens.

If these numbers are even close to accurate–or even off by a factor of five–that means the risk of salmonella is actually lower for backyard chicken farmers than for the general population!

Another interesting thing to note is that the distribution of baby chicks is still pretty centralized. But the centralized food industry is one of the biggest problems relating to foodborne illness in the first place. So is the problem keeping chickens in your backyard, or is the problem sourcing those chickens from one of a handful of hatcheries?

In that sense, scaring people away from keeping chickens in their backyard is just ushering them into another centralized food industry just as–or more–likely to get them sick. The real solution is keeping chickens as well as sourcing them locally from a farm you can visit.

So the problem with these kinds of alarmist articles is that they could curb an overall more healthy behavior. They encourage people to do the same old unhealthy thing, instead of pursuing a healthier alternative for fear of a relatively obscure risk.

Keeping chickens might actually reduce the overall chance of getting salmonella from poultry products. But even if it increases the risk, it doesn’t take into account the long-term health benefits of eating homegrown versus storebought food.

And then there are so many other factors that one alarming statistic does not take into account. Maybe keeping chickens is better for your mental health. Maybe knowing where your eggs come from decreases your stress levels. Perhaps being exposed to livestock inoculates you against more serious diseases.

(An interesting side note: In the late 1700’s, smallpox was a devastating disease. But Dr. Edward Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had previously come down with cowpox were immune to smallpox. The symptoms of cowpox were much milder compared to deadly smallpox. Yet the diseases were similar enough so that having had cowpox acted as an inoculation against smallpox.)

The overblown fear of salmonella from backyard chickens probably makes people less healthy overall.

Society seems to hate anything that empowers individuals.

Basically, the overall message from society and the media seems to encourage the status quo–even when the status quo is less healthy or riskier.

I see this attitude even in the comments of The Daily Bell. If I am too optimistic about a trend, technology, or movement, I basically hear, don’t you know people have always been slaves and always will be!

If I talk about exiting an unjust society its: oh so you’re just going to run and hide? If I talk about standing up to the powers that be its: wow, you really think you could defeat the machine? If I talk about finding a group of like-minded people to form a voluntary community with its: what are you some kind of hippie communist?

Most people don’t want anyone else to change. Misery loves company. People would rather drag others down than build themselves up.

If one person isn’t into keeping chickens, they get some sort of pleasure hearing about any possible pitfall. Fat people like that runners injure themselves. Liberals care more about the name of my mini-farm than about the positive impact it has. And the people freezing their asses off in Massachusetts just have to make themselves feel better by telling me how miserable I’ll be in the summer.

But individuals actually do have control over their lives. They can divorce themselves from a centralized and unhealthy food industry. They can make themselves free, happy, and prosperous. They don’t have to live in a place they hate or continue a depressing lifestyle.

It is a victim mentality that seeks excuses not to make a positive change in one’s own life. Why bother if the alternative is just as unhealthy. Why try if I will just get beat down by society.

And the media definitely doesn’t want people to change. They have a vested interest in making sure there is an army of negatrons to counter every positive utterance. That is how the media protects the status quo. It is how they make sure people don’t step too far out of line.

It is how they make sure people don’t empower themselves to stop depending on the state and corporate institutions.

Don’t fall for their hype.

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hoytmonger's picture

It's better than the salmonella in the drug and steroid ridden grocery store birds.

Payne's picture

Salmonella would be present in all Avian pets, Lizards, snakes, Turtles etc etc.  Backyard chickens and ducks are minisicule in comparison.  Any artcile that does not discuss is based on poor Science methodology.  

MCDirtMigger's picture

Trump is colluding with the Russians to sell you infected chickens!!! The woman in The sequined hat told me so!

Abitcoinbrain's picture

I heard Clinton did a Chiken deal with Putin for a bunch a of Salmonella eggs on the hush hush, many millions went to clinton foundation it was the usual!

Golden Showers's picture

More people die from lightening strikes, car crashes, diabetes, insomnia, masturbating, and let's pick a good one: ritual satanic murder than from a free range chicken egg.

And more human beings get fucked up for life from mandatory vaccinations thanks to the CDC.

Sounds like the author of this piece wants to be a free range human being and do what he wants. Nevermind the opinions of stupid coward assholes who quip about what is politically correct.

I call my land Ward 6 after Checkoff. Do not enter my asylum.

Not that any of you would ever wish to. That's right. And you know it. I might have Willy Wonka shit up here but you're too fucking escared.

Hey: It's our beanstalk. We can climb it if we want to.

Adahy's picture

Fun fact:  Even a chicken that carries it will only pass it to eggs, or even show positive on a test if it is stressed.
Factory chickens are stressed from birth to death.
My chickens probably don't even know what stress is.
Happy food not only tastes better, but keeps you from getting sick.
Treating animals properly pays off, failing to do so has consequences.
It all boils down to a lack of respect when you think about it.

Pernicious Gold Phallusy's picture

Happy food not only tastes better, but keeps you from getting sick.

Tell that to Harvey.


LightBeamCowboy's picture

Adahy, you would enjoy that our "house chicken", the tamest from the flock, was looking over my shoulder as I read this article. She spends most nights sleeping on the back of my computer chair, only going out to join her friends to scratch when the comforts of indoors gets boring. And yes, we credit our close contact with chickens to be a big boost to our immune systems. Too clean a lifestyle and your immune system gets lazy and out of practice, putting you at risk for any bug that comes your way.

dunce's picture

About 100 years ago most of our farmers were just above subsistence farming, but these people were intensely independent, and the government found them hard to control so they made it near impossible to be a small farmer with our tax laws and various price support programs.

Flankspeed60's picture

I worked my way through high school in a fancy restaurant during the early '60s. All our Caesar Salads were made with raw egg and vinegar dressing. Served countless thousands of them, and never got tired of eating them myself. Never got sick, nor did I ever hear of anyone who did.

Gorgeous's picture

The media is..."eager to bring attention to the negatives"  Who would bave thought!  Right Tylers?

Thoreau's picture

Chicken shit... that's the name of this game. If you have ONE chicken and keep it in a tiny hamster cage, then yes, you need to be careful. Industrial chickens would be happy with so much space. Another non-story about living naturally whilst giving other creatures a better semblence of actually living.

LightBeamCowboy's picture

One of the things I like about our chickens is they *want* to get out and scratch for their own living. They get sullen, even angry, if kept inside the run. They eagerly await getting let out for the day. They will accept the food we give them, but only to make up the difference from what they find for themselves. People, on the other hand, are all too often willing to sit on a sofa collecting welfare and food stamps. Perhaps more humans need a chance to live naturally and have a "better semblance of actually living". What are cities, if not CAFO's (confined animal feeding operation) where people are farmed not for meat, milk, or eggs, but for the debt that can be piled on their backs?

Dickweed Wang's picture

Prior to the 1940's a vast number of Americans raised their own chickens, pheasants and other fowl to clean and eat.  How is it that people could get by just fine doing that for over 150 years but now all of a sudden they shouldn't because of the risk of salmonella??  Next they'll be telling everyone they shouldn't fish or hunt because of the risk of one sickness or another - you know, if it's not processed in a factory somewhere you shouldn't eat it.  What bullshit!

Obviously there are powerful interests in the US that do not want people to be able to fend for themselves when it comes to food . . .  that's the best reason that I can think of to try to be self-sufficient. Fuck those guys . . .

Hulk's picture

Still raising my own chickens . As a kid we raised our own food. Getting sick from food was absolutely unheard of. Never happened, not once.Didn't even know it existed. How many millions of pounds of meat has been recalled this year ???

I call fucking bullshit on this !!!

techpriest's picture

I was raised on a very mainstream diet, and sometimes my wife chides me that "Techpriest, you could have been Einstein but those foods made you to only be a PhD!" Good natured of course, but diet has a huge impact on mental performance and capacity.

I finally have a house on a bit of land. Only enough for square-foot gardening, but the back yard is slowly transforming from a overly hot, weed-infested hellscape into a small paradise of herbs, vegetables, and block work. Fresh veggies in the sense that you just picked them will give a taste you cannot buy. Further, you get more control over the varieties, and can maximize specific nutritional benefits.

At some point not too far into the future we'll be getting some land farther out. I see a subset of Americans on the same path of reclaiming what was once obvious for generations.

Dickweed Wang's picture

I see a subset of Americans on the same path of reclaiming what was once obvious for generations.


Yep . . . when I was growing up in the late 60's and early 70's we used to have these really elaborate meals at my granddad's place in suburban Detroit where 80% of the food served was either raised or grown by him or made by hand (e.g. bread). I remember like it was yesterday him teaching me how to clean and process chickens and pheasants for the table. 

People can start doing stuff like you mention with relatively little space. There's a guy in our neighborhood that lines his driveway on both sides with containers (because that's the only spot he has with sufficient light because of the trees on his property) and has a really awesome garden every year.  There are also at least a couple of people nearby that have small chicken coops - although the local building inspector Nazi has been a problem for them.

If food becomes scarcer in the future, as many are predicting will happen, you will see tons of people start piling on the self-sufficiency band wagon. In a lot of cases for those folks it will be too little, too late.  Good seeds may be worth their weight in gold someday soon.

MrBoompi's picture

Eating raw or undercooked eggs could be a problem, but not the meat.  Cooking chicken correctly eliminates salmonella.  Of course, make sure you keep the kitchen clean and wash your hands.

Realname's picture

Guineas...and they wont destroy a garden like chickens will.

Consuelo's picture



Are you thinking what I'm thinking...?


No, not the chicken hubbub.    Think a few moves ahead.   To something more like Stalin's Russia.   In reality, how 'private' do you think your private property will be when if/when this virus of Control-Freakism really gets out of hand...?   

You think these people (and their handmaidens in the courts) are going to stop at the fence of your 10 acre plot in rural bum-fuck where the 'Private Property' signs hang...?

- They will not stop. 

- They could care less about facts, your adherence to environmentally friendly stewardship, your children or your innocence.

- At this late stage of disease, they only understand (1) thing: Crushing Defeat.


Don't be fooled into thinking you're going to roll it up and retreat to your Constitutionally protected private property with garden and livestock in tow.   

These Fuckers are in it at a minimum for your subjugation, and quite possibly your death.




Hongcha's picture

They will understand a 230 grain .45 round to the stomach.

LightBeamCowboy's picture

As I said in a comment above, cities are really Confined Animal Feeding Operations where the product turned out is not meat, milk, or eggs but debt. Imagine a rancher's (think bankers) product which has no transport or spoilage costs because it's pure digital wealth.

Self-sufficiency is anathema to these ranchers-of-humans because they do not produce as much debt as humans who are dependent for every need on purchased products. Like troublesome cows who jump the fence or chickens who stop laying, the rancher-bankers would just as soon we were dead.

techpriest's picture

So... you gonna figure out how to make something happen in your municipality or not?

We've never been much for marketing the cause of "leave me alone," but I think that marketing is necessary if we ever want to get enough people to start turning this around. And it would be better to start now, because post-SHTF there might not be much Internet for reaching people.

serotonindumptruck's picture

You're kind of a buzz kill, bro.

Do you get invited to lots of parties for your fascinating and thought-provoking commentary?

Yeah, me either.



seataka's picture

SAME thought stopping propaganda METHOD as used for gun control and vaccines.

When will they ever learn

Silver Savior's picture

California is as liberal as hell but I am only allowed four hens and no roosters. What stuck up conservative made that rule? Probably one of those germaphobe, rich, pencil pusher type. I should let a bunch of angry roosters loose on their lawn in the early morning. 

It's a city ordinance.

tboned's picture

I have 30 something chickens and 4 ducks. 

Everyone needs a free range egg, every day. 



Honest Sam's picture

All this did was make me get off my ass and head to the Colonel, or the Krispy Krunchy Chicken franchise in Villanova for a fat lunch and biscuit gravy. 


Proofreder's picture

And now, chick rentals -

Yes, there are several (franchise opportunity here) business ventures which rent chickens and chicks, usually for Easter celebrations.

Interesting business model - fowl slavery for the masses.


LightBeamCowboy's picture

Proofreder, start watching closely in every movie you see: there's almost always a chicken that shows up on the set at some point because they add realism and they're cheap to rent. As a film buff, I can tell you that there is one other thing in almost every movie: a psychopath. Go figure,two things in most movies, chickens and psychopaths.

Realname's picture

People rent their bees and goats, why not chickens? Fowl idea, indeed.

Deep Snorkeler's picture

I lived on a massive chicken farm.

Chicken crap was everywhere.

We didn't know what salmonella was.

We kids ate carrots right out of the

ground covered with manure.

No one was ever sick.

We all had robust immune systems

and drank well water.

Night crawlers were our friends

and fishing buddies.

Honest Sam's picture

You are an antediluvian thowback to an uncivilized, savage culture.  An ANIMAL!

Bet you walked three miles back and forth to school every morning, wore hand me down clothes from three generations back, and your shoes had cardboard inserts for soles. 

Play a mean banjo, too.

Deep Snorkeler's picture

I ran around with pigs in the pigpen.

I lassooed them.

Without boots.

Gorgeous's picture

Were you that ragamuffin kid next farm over?  kids dont use shoes and shirts on a farm.

dogismycopilot's picture

Everything a lie. Everything you hear, everything you see. So much to spew out. They just keep coming, one after another. You're in a box. A moving box. They want you dead, or in their lie... There's only one thing a man can do - find something that's his, and make an island for himself. If I never meet you in this life, let me feel the lack; a glance from your eyes, and my life will be yours.

Hikikomori's picture

Wash your hands, cook your chicken and eggs = problem solved.

HRClinton's picture

When I was young and living with my aunt and uncle for a few years, I would sometimes eat an egg, by...

Putting a 2 mm hole on the top and bottom of the egg. I'd then use a needle to puncture the yolk, and suck out the whole thing. 

Also, she'd take the yolk, add some sugar and beat it with a fork, until it turned into a tasty treat. 

Sick? Never! 

Fact is, there is Salmonella in ALL chicken. It's a matter of DEGREE that can be dangerous. The INDUSTRY and the Nanny State -- that's conditioning you like Pavlov's dogs -- is telling you; "WE are in charge of your life, not you!"

Gorgeous's picture

a 2mm hole in an egshell.  nice work.

hardcleareye's picture

Hmm...  Home made eggnog...  fresh cream skimmed off the can in the frig...  3 eggs just layed and a bit of sugar and vanilla...  whipped up and passed thru a strainer so it is smooooth...  this is the stuff I was raised on and I never remember getting sick from it.  Of course we didn't eat raw week old eggs...

brushhog's picture

You want to flush out a liberal and make him squirm? Use the word "self-reliance" and watch his face. Its like throwing holy water on a vampire.

DistortedPictures's picture

Self-sufficiency is the enemy of a state.  Why do you think that the media is trying to destroy every aspect of identity and strength? Remember, (((they))) need you, we don't need them.  We are the host and (((they))) are the parasite. 

LightBeamCowboy's picture

Self-sufficiency is the enemy of *bankers*, who own the ranches-for-humans we call "nations". Governments are just the ranch managers and cowboys for the banker ranch owners, who can fire and replace the ranch managers at will. They call it "regime change". Woe unto to the ranch manager who doesn't realize who he's working for and starts thinking of himself as a sovereign national leader. Think Qaddafi.

Gods's picture

So true, "They" have inslaved us slowly over the years. I so badly want to build a custom home yet, the government wants a hand out and tell me how to build it. Sad world we live in this land of the free what a joke.

techpriest's picture

With housing (among other issues), remember what I call the Law of Corporate Success:

Predictability * Scalaibility = Profitability

In otherwords, profit is the product of making a process predictable and scalable. Great for growing a business, terrible for a free society.

Custom homes, tiny houses, and backyard chickens are all unpredictable, and might have a negative impact on housing values and therefore property taxes. This is *risk,* and risk means that a local politician cannot be sure that consistent tax money will be coming in to buy favors.

Montani Semper Liberi's picture

 " I’ve also had fat people tell me that running is bad for my knees."

 Yes, when you are carrying around an extra 100 pounds on your frame the impact loads will destroy your knees if you try to take up running.

techpriest's picture

Having had the experience of losing 40 pounds... I would recommend cycling first. No impact, and start with a 18 or 21 speed since a novice will start out surprisingly weak (like 1/1 to go up small hills weak), but over time you can work up to gears that you would normally encounter on a fixie (3/4 or 3/6).