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Frequently Asked Questions about Salmonella and Backyard Flocks

All chicks — regardless of the source hatchery — have an inherent risk of Salmonella infection. Tractor Supply Company requires all of its source hatcheries to certify compliance with industry standards such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Poultry Improvement Plan. We also work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other experts and the hatcheries to adopt best practices to reduce the spread of Salmonella infections. We have developed an industry-leading Salmonella awareness program that communicates the importance of following the CDC's safe handling procedures in a variety of ways both in our stores and on our website. For example, we prominently display the CDC's official Salmonella risks/safe handling poster in our stores, provide customers who purchase chicks with a safe handling guidelines instruction sheet and print the guidelines on the take home box for the chicks. We also have brochures in our stores and information on our website regarding the importance of following the safe handling guidelines and taking other precautions to reduce the spread of Salmonella such as segregating new chicks from the rest of your flock for 30 days.


If you are concerned about the risk of Salmonella in the birds you have purchased from TSC and are unhappy with your purchase, we will gladly refund your purchase price. If you are interested in additional information or testing your birds for Salmonella , we encourage you to contact your county agricultural extension office, state veterinarian or animal health division or your local veterinarian. However, many experts do not recommend relying on test results showing your chicks do not have Salmonella because Salmonella is common and birds can test negative even though they may be infected. Instead, these experts recommend that you always follow the safe handling procedures regardless of test results. Because of the unreliability of testing and the need to always follow the safe handling procedures, we do not reimburse for testing. As always, if you have a special situation that you believe requires further attention, please contact us to discuss.


What are the symptoms of a Salmonella infection?

For a list of symptoms associated with a Salmonella infection, please visit the CDC Salmonella website at

How do I know if my birds are infected with Salmonella?

Salmonella is common in live poultry and all poultry has the potential to carry the bacteria. Owners should always work with poultry under the assumption their birds are carrying the bacteria by using safe handling practices. Birds can look and act healthy, showing no outward signs of illness but still be carrying the bacteria. Carrier birds may not shed the bacteria in their droppings until stressed. Because of this, the best way to check for Salmonella is through testing the droppings or feces and any dead birds specifically for the bacteria and doing so periodically over time. Consult your county agricultural extension office for advice and assistance with testing for Salmonella.

What can I do to protect myself and my family from Salmonella?

The most important thing in preventing Salmonella infection is to practice safe handling practices with your poultry. Like most germs and bacteria, Salmonella spreads through contact resulting in accidental ingestion. Make sure you wash hands after handling your birds or the equipment in their living area. Most importantly, do not keep poultry in your living spaces, kiss or cuddle young chicks or ducklings. Use extra precautions with children, the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system. For a full list of safe handling practices, visit the CDC website SalmonellaPoultry or contact the CDC at 800-CDCINFO (800-232-4636)

What can I do to protect my birds from Salmonella infection?

Poultry can acquire Salmonella and other illnesses from the environment, wild birds, contaminated feed or water, pests, contact with other poultry- even contact with humans. Include good biosecurity practices in your poultry care routines to minimize the risk of exposing your birds to these bacteria. Visit the USDA APHIS program website to learn more about biosecurity guidelines to follow for backyard flocks. can also minimize the spread of and exposure to Salmonella by maintaining clean living areas for your poultry:

  • Keep pens dry and clean
  • Keep water fresh, changing it twice a day
  • Minimize the crowding of your birds, the more space they have the better
  • Periodically clean and sanitize your coop and equipment

Is Salmonella only a danger with baby chicks?

No, Salmonella can be carried by any poultry at any age so safe handling practices should always be used with baby and adult poultry alike. Because poultry can contract Salmonella at any life stage from a variety of sources and show no outwardly visible signs, you should always exercise safe handling practices when in contact with any bird. Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of birds and can be present in their droppings, on their skin, and feathers.The increased risks associated with baby chicks and ducks are the results of the owners' behaviors. Keeping poultry inside human living areas is one of the most common causes of Salmonella infection from poultry. Improper handling, such as nuzzling and kissing baby poultry, greatly increase the risk of infection.