Christine Ryan

So soft, those feathers...almost irresistible. Photograph courtesy of Sunset's Team Chicken.

That's the message the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to spread among us chicken owners. (Yes, we still have one hen here at Sunset, who will be going to a good home this coming winter, when we move to our new home in Oakland.)

Not surprisingly, backyard hens often become almost a part of the family. But chickens don't just provide fresh eggs—they also can carry salmonella, and the CDC says that 181 human cases in the U.S. so far this year (as near as we can figure from the accompanying data) can be traced to people basically treating poultry like pets.

Elizabeth, who was part of Team Chicken here at Sunset, with a member of our flock. (And yes, the CDC would probably not approve.) Photograph courtesy of Team Chicken.

So, sure, appreciate all that your hens do for you, but maybe think twice about picking them up and giving them a hug of thanks? (Or if you do, at least wash your hands afterward.) And definitely don't let them move into the house, says the CDC. (Yes, they really said that.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of stylish chicken coop options out there!

(H/T to NPR's Morning Edition.)

You May Like