Raising Chickens Becomes Popular for Non-Farm Towns in Illinois

1280px-Selma_the_pulletRaising chickens is becoming increasingly popular these days for non-farmers, and even city dwellers are joining in on the trend. Chicagoans, as well as residents in Collinsville and Swansea, are now allowed to raise chickens on their property, and many are taking advantage of this opportunity.

While getting farm fresh eggs in a city setting without the city prices is one of the most heavily cited reasons to start raising chickens, there are plenty of other reasons that people raise fowl as well.

“Chickens are great companionship, they’re great entertainment. A lot of people keep them as just pets. The eggs are a bonus to them,” said Roger Sipe, editor of Chickens and Hobby Farms magazines. “They also provide bug and pest control for yards. Chickens love to just freerange in the backyard and eat whatever type of things they can find, be it grubs or worms or mosquitoes, whatever you’ve got.”

Not only are chickens great to keep around, raising them is relatively easy if you have the right equipment. Typically, a mother hen only needs one square foot of area in order to lay her eggs. If you plan on raising multiple chickens, as most people do, you should plan to have one roll out nest box for every four or five chickens, and always keep at least two inches of organic nesting material down for the chickens to nest in.

If you’re just getting started in the chicken game, there are plenty of resources available to help you. In fact, Chicago-based Jennifer Murtoff works as a chicken consultant in order to help people start their own backyard or rooftop chicken coops. Her primary objective is to make sure that the chickens are able to live happy and healthy lives in their containments.

Murtoff says that she has about 900 clients on her mailing list, and about 400 of them live within the Chicago city limits. Most live in Logan Square or Humboldt Park.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is not responsible for zoning laws that allow or disallow chicken-raising in urban or suburban settings; those matters are left up to local legislators. In Chicago, however, the practice is legal and very much alive.

To find out if your particular municipality allows chicken farming, call your local town hall. If it is not legal where you live, you may be able to overturn the decision during a town board meeting.