Article: U.S. City Dwellers Flock to Raising Chickens

From Worldwatch Institute. For the full article visit: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5900

by Ben Block on October 6, 2008

chicken coopIn the backyard of a suburban home in Denver, Colorado, 22 chickens are hiding out from the law.

They arrived when a member of BackyardChickens, an online forum, ordered the birds in the mail this past May. “I actually get my chicks in today hopefully, and I am worried that animal control will be at the post office waiting for me with hand-cuffs,” the new poultry farmer wrote.

An underground “urban chicken” movement has swept across the United States in recent years. Cities such as Boston, Massachusetts, and Madison, Wisconsin, are known to have had chickens residing illegally behind city fences.

But grassroots campaigns, often inspired by the expanding movement to buy locally produced food, are leading municipalities to allow limited numbers of hens within city limits.

Cities such as Anne Arbor, Michigan; Ft. Collins, Colorado; and South Portland, Maine have all voted in the past year to allow residents to raise backyard poultry. “It’s a serious issue – it’s no yolk,” said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz of Madison, Wisconsin, when his city reversed its poultry ban in 2004. “Chickens are really bringing us together as a community. For too long they’ve been cooped up.”

Raising backyard chickens is an extension of an urban farming movement that has gained popularity nationwide. Home-raised livestock or agriculture avoids the energy usage and carbon emissions typically associated with transporting food.

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