Raising chickens to produce your own eggs or meat continues to grow in popularity. I remember in the mid-1990s seeing pasture raised poultry being raised on a Nebraska farm. This entailed raising 15-20 chickens in a movable pen across a grassy area and providing feed and water for them as a supplement to the grass and insects they take from the environment.

The moveable pen had a roof on it along with a way of providing feed and water as well as chicken wire to protect the birds from predators. This concept along with the increase of small chicken flocks has resulted in more people being in contact with poultry particularly children.

As more people have started to raise chickens the risk of contracting Salmonella has increased dramatically. Salmonella is a pathogen caused by bacteria which can cause food poisoning. Although no one has died according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Health departments since Jan. 1, 2017 there has been 26 cases involving 32 people in Ohio being infected with the disease – the most of any state.

Luckily Greene County has not had any incidents but the possibility is present. Nationwide there has been over 372 people infected with salmonella this year with about one –third under the age of five years. The bacteria can be spread on eggs not cleaned or cooked properly as well.

The people contracting Salmonella had touched infected chickens and then put their hands in their mouth or drank/ate with the hands which came in contact with the chickens. Live chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys can carry the bacteria without exhibiting any noticeable problems and not all birds carry the organisms. The birds can carry the pathogens on their feather, feet and beaks.

Symptoms of Salmonella usually appear in 12-72 hours and include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps after infection according to Abigail Snyder of OSU Extension. Although the illness usually lasts 4-7 days most people recover without treatment.

However, everyone is different and some individuals may become dehydrated so a visit to the doctor may be warranted. Not everyone will be infected but caution should be exercised to always wash your hands and face after handling poultry.

For more information on this problem contact Abigail Snyder OSU Assistant Professor for Food Safety at 330-263-3831 or email [email protected].

Sustainable farm tour

If you are thinking about getting involved in raising food in a sustainable or organic manner consider visiting and talking with someone who has already taken the step to farm in this way. Through the coordination of several organizations including OSU Sustainable Agriculture Team, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and Central State University Extension among others over 33 farms are opening their doors to the public in the June-November time frame to share their experiences both good and bad in raising crops and organically or in a sustainable manner.

For a complete listing of the stops including locations you can stop by the OSU Ext. Office for Greene County to pick up a tour brochure as well as contacting any of the sponsors listed above. For more information and complete listing of the stops you can also log onto the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association website at www.oeffa.org.

Fence rows and lines

For many years Ohio law has permitted landowners to prune overhanging branches, vines etc. in a vertical line with the property line. In the case of trees it is suggested to contact the neighbor before doing this just out of courtesy. No harm is to be done to the tree on the neighbor’s side of the property line or to trespass on the neighbor’s property.

I was involved in a property dispute a few years ago when a school decided to kill the “trash” trees on their side of the fence line by using a soil applied herbicide. They did not realize the tree roots from the neighbor’s trees crossed the property line and absorbed the herbicide and the shade trees on the other side of the property line were killed. The school ended up paying for newly planted trees on the neighboring property.

Ohio law also permits farmers to work with neighbors to clear adjoining fence rows of noxious weeds, brush, briers, and thistles. The first suggestion is to talk with your neighbor to ask them to clear a four foot area on their side of the fence line of the noxious weeds etc.

If no action is taken by the neighbor further action can involve township trustees in enforcing the clearing of the fence line. An important principle is to maintain good relations with your neighbors whenever possible. For more information on this fence line issue may visit the OSU Ag Law library at www.farmoffice.osu.edu/our-library/line-fence-law.

Getting too friendly with your chickens

By Jerry Mahan

Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at [email protected].