In three successive years, we visited petting farms (n=132), care farms (n=91), and farmyard campsites (n=84), respectively, and completed a standard questionnaire with the objective of determining the hygienic status of these farms and describing hygiene measures implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic agents from the animals to humans. For at least 85% of the farms, the overall impression of hygiene was recorded as good. However, more attention must be paid to: informing visitors on hygiene and handwashing, provision of handwashing facilities, and a footwear cleaning facility. Examination of samples of freshly voided faeces resulted in the detection of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 and/or Salmonella spp. and/or Campylobacter spp. at almost two-thirds (64·9%) of the petting farms, and around half of the care farms (56·0%) and farmyard campsites (45·2%). These data reinforce the need for control measures for both public and private farms to reduce human exposure to livestock faeces and thus the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases. Public awareness of the risk associated with handling animals or faecal material should be increased.