Chicken coops are popping up in Northwest Indiana backyards, part of a growing nationwide trend.
Chuck Roth, owner of Chesterton Feed and Garden Center, chestertonfeed.com, said he has seen an increase in customers raising chickens in the past two years.
"I think they’re getting back to nature and the organic craze and eating right," Roth said. "I think people are looking to raise their own eggs for that reason."
His store carries various feeds including organic brands, which are popular. Customers can order chicken coops in different configurations and pick up chicken supplies like waterers, feeders, lights, bedding and incubators.
"Chickens are pretty easy. You can keep them in a smaller space,” Roth said. A lot of customers will even incorporate them into gardens so that they can pick around and keep insect populations down.
Jennifer Brum said her family has had its chicken coop for the past three years and that their four hens produce one to four eggs every day.
"It’s the perfect amount for just us and also where I can give a dozen every now and then to my mom or another family member."
The family lives on seven acres in Hobart and she always wanted to have something that could provide sustenance as well as fun. As an added bonus, the hens help in the garden and have made friends with her 5-year-old son.
"He goes out there with me. He helps me feed them, give them water. He pets them, gives them grass. He helps collect eggs," Brum said.
Her husband, Jon, also enjoys them now although he did not want them at first.
"He picks them up and pets them," she said. "Now he thinks they’re a lot of fun."
The most common question she gets asked is why she does not have a rooster. Brum explained hens do not need a rooster to produce eggs.
She got her chickens when they were pullets at about 2 months old. She has four different breeds but said her best egg-layer is Ruby, her Rhode Island red.
“It’s almost guaranteed I get an egg from her every day.”
Chickens will typically lay eggs for six or seven years. Her husband and uncle built their coop in one weekend. “I use a 12-by-7 foot dog kennel for the pen with netting on top to protect from hawks,” Brum said.
"They’re very easy to take care of. They’re very easy to get along with," she said. "They are not loud. It’s nice to know where your own food comes from and how the animal has been taken care of."
Linsey Delgado said her Northwest Indiana family has had a chicken coop with four hens for about a year. She decided to try raising her own chickens because of the expense of buying cage free eggs at the grocery store and on gas driving to Dyer to pick up local cage free eggs.
Now with their own hens, they get the biggest eggs, she said. “We can’t even shut our egg cartons."
The chickens are tame and get along well with her 21-month-old son, she said.
"We can go out there and play with them, pick them up and pet them. They’re pretty cool animals."
The chickens eat Purina chicken pellets and vegetable scraps, she said.
"They’re an easy animal to take care of and they give you food every day," Delgado said. "We get four eggs a day."