Stunting affects 159 million children under five years old worldwide, including 58 million in Africa – the only continent that has experienced an increase in the number of stunted children since the year 2000. While nutrition-sensitive approaches to reduce stunting have focused increasingly on agricultural diversity, there is disagreement within the relevant literature about whether the presence of livestock presents a net gain (as a result of nutritional, economic, and social benefits) or a net loss (as a result of increased risk of contamination leading to clinical and subclinical infection). We argue that characterizing animal agriculture itself as either beneficial or harmful to nutrition presents a false choice, since livestock are present in over 60% of households in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rather, we suggest that the pertinent question is how livestock management practices should be optimized to harness advantages while reducing exposure to contamination. Through a mixed-methods approach, we sought to describe the relationship between chicken management and contamination exposure, and to understand the factors underlying interactions between children, caregivers, and chickens that may lead to contamination. Ultimately, our results indicate that risk factors for contamination are significantly correlated with chicken management practices, and that household perceptions of sanitation, hygiene, and livestock vitality influence these practices.