Interacting With Farm Animals Safely

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Have you visited a petting zoo, tried goat yoga, or added some chickens to your backyard? Interacting with animals traditionally seen on farms is becoming more common and can provide us with education, entertainment, and food. You may want to treat these cute animals like pets, but it’s important to remember some of these animals are more likely to spread germs to people, especially young kids. Farm animals can spread germs even if they look healthy and clean. They should not live inside the home or be kept indoors.

Farm animals include cows, chickens, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, and alpacas. Take these steps to reduce the risk of getting sick from contact with farm animals.

Three goats sticking their heads outside a pen

Supervise children around farm animals

  • Do not allow children under 5 years old to handle or touch poultry, pre-weaned calves, young goats and sheep, and any sick animals. Children are more likely to get seriously sick from germs these animals can carry, like Salmonella and E. coli.
  • Don’t allow hand-to-mouth activities, such as nail biting, finger sucking, and eating dirt.
A child scrubbing his hands with soap and water in sink

Wash hands often 

  • Wash your hands with soap and running water after contact with animals, animal food, animal poop, or items in animal areas.
  • Adults should help children wash hands.
  • Cover open wounds or cuts when visiting or working around farm animals.

Prevent bites and kicks

  • Be cautious when around farm animals.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and know where animals and escape routes are at all times.
  • Do not stand directly behind a farm animal or approach a farm animal from the rear.