By Kimberly Willis, Robert T. Ludlow

Many poor chicks have been strangled by the loving grasp of children. Chicken owners need to learn the proper ways of catching and holding chickens of all ages and sizes.

Children need to be taught how to correctly catch and hold chickens, too, if they’re allowed to handle them. Children under age 5 probably shouldn’t be allowed to hold chicks without close adult supervision. They should never catch the chicks; instead, have them sit down and hand them the chicks to hold briefly.

Children should never be allowed to kiss chicks or chickens, or rub them on their faces. It makes a cute picture, but it’s a dangerous health practice. All chickens — even cute, fluffy ones — can carry salmonella and other nasty bacteria and viruses, even though they appear perfectly healthy. Children shouldn’t touch their faces or mouths after handling chickens or eat anything until they’ve thoroughly washed their hands in hot, soapy water.

Also make sure small children don’t rest their faces on brooder or cage edges to get a better look. If they handle feed and water dishes, pick up eggs, or help with other chores, they should promptly wash their hands. You should remember this, too, because children aren’t the only ones who can come down with salmonosis or other diseases. Wash your hands before eating, smoking, or putting your hands near your mouth, nose, or eyes.