I’m not sure I’d call it “trendy,” but keeping chickens in your backyard definitely seems like a trend right now, especially among people who are truly serious about eating local. Beyond the egg production (and, um, occasional Sunday dinner), they seem like really cool pets. But in most places, “backyard chickens” are considered weird. Or they’re downright illegal.
Just this week, Shorewood, Wis. (a suburb of Milwaukee) grabbed a few headlines around the state for shooting down the proposal for a residential chicken pilot program – where a few people would be allowed to keep chickens, just to see how it went. But the city says most of their residential lots are too small to keep poultry. I think the story mostly got picked up because the entire proposal was sparked by a letter to the Shorewood city council from a 9 year old girl. More on all that here.
Backyard chickens are legal in cities like Madison and Green Bay, but what about here? After some quick phone calls, some digging through online ordinances, and a couple of chuckles from local city clerks, this is what I found out:
- Eau Claire: Illegal!
Chippewa Falls: Legal if they are quiet and stay in your yard!
Menomonie: Legal only if your home is on land zoned for agriculture (which amounts to a few neighborhoods), or if you live on at least 5 acres and obtain special permission!
So, there you go. I know I’ve seen a few underground (not literally) backyard chicken coops around Eau Claire, and the nice man I talked with from the Chippewa Falls police department says there are a number of people over there keeping live poultry. So there is some desire out there.
What do you think, Eau Clairians (and Altoonians)? Is it time to start a petition and storm City Hall? More backyard chicken info right here.