Urban chickens joining the family

2013-07-10T00:00:00Z Urban chickens joining the familyJennifer Pallay Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

“These are kid-friendly chickens,” my brother-in-law said, “the golden retrievers of chickens.” I started to laugh but I was also interested in learning more about the new feathered nieces I was getting.

My brother-in-law stopped by this weekend to borrow our truck because he was going to pick up a chicken coop, chicken feed and, yes, chickens. He and his wife recently moved to a nearby Chicago neighborhood and are joining others where they live who raise chickens for fun and for eggs.

“There are others?” I asked and he whipped out his phone to show me video of his driveway where a chicken was just poking along waiting for him to give it a snack.

Yes, chickens live in Chicago backyards, part of a growing number of urban chicken coops popping up around the country. There is even an online group called Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts , chicagochickens.org, where you can go to ask locals for advice.

My brother-in-law continued to answer my many questions, like what you feed a chicken. He said, “anything but avocado.” Interesting. “But mostly they will eat chicken feed.” Ah.

The chickens will live outside even in winter, but their coop has a special heat lamp to keep them warm.

Chickens do sometimes fight but mostly when they’re young and before a pecking order is established. One chicken will lay about five eggs a week while she is young. After a few years, they don’t lay many eggs. Then they just become pets.

My Hegewisch neighbors haven’t seemed to catch onto the chicken coop craze, but I’m sure there are some around town.

Chicago law does allow for chickens and chicken coops as long as the birds are being used for eggs or as pets. No roosters and no chicken slaughtering are allowed and the coop must be clean.

There’s a website devoted to everything you wanted to know about raising chickens, raisingbackyardchickens.com. It says there are many reasons to have chickens. They are easy and inexpensive to maintain, compared to other pets. You will have fresh eggs. Chickens are chemical-free bug and weed control and they manufacture their own fertilizer. It says chickens are fun and friendly and have their own personalities.

I haven’t met my new feathered nieces yet but I look forward to it.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at jpallay14@gmail.com.

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