“Cooped” Up Inside? These Friends Help You Get Out!

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

A hen eating feed.

Even as a self-described “city kid,” Dr. Marguerite Halversen recently told ELi about her appreciation for raising backyard chickens in East Lansing. For residents that like knowing where their food is sourced from and enjoy fresh eggs each day, Halversen claims one can’t go wrong with a backyard coop.

For Halversen, raising chickens has been a family activity – one that provided her children with a fun learning experience by observing and caring for animals. Since chickens are “human friendly” animals, children and parents alike can feel comfortable handling the birds and carrying out tasks related to their welfare.

Halversen isn’t alone in thinking that raising chickens is a good idea. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Deputy City Clerk Kathryn Gardner revealed that the City had 27 Backyard Chicken permits on file in 2019.

But, make sure you know what you are getting into first. For those interested in getting into the backyard chicken game, Halversen recommends constructing or buying an appropriate coop and reading up on the proper care of chickens first.

Once you have the space for your chickens established, you will also need a Backyard Chickens permit (application available here) before bringing your chickens home to roost. Halverson supports the permit process required by the City and did not experience any obstacles in obtaining one.

Currently, the City of East Lansing offers a five-year permit for residents at the cost of $21. Each residence is allowed a maximum of four chickens and must abide by the practices outlined on the City website, which include constructing proper housing for the animals.

After that, Halverson says that caring for your chickens is “relatively easy.” She estimates that aside from daily feedings, East Lansing residents should expect to dedicate a couple of hours a week to chicken maintenance, which involves keeping the coops clean and secure. This process can be tricky and may require some trial-and-error, but Halversen believes the benefits of chicken ownership outweigh the application of a bit of elbow grease.

A good chicken owner will also be considerate of neighbors, as unkempt or unclean coops can disrupt human and chicken harmony alike. As Halversen imparted wisely: “A clean chicken coop makes for good neighbors.”

Halversen described the City’s oversight on backyard chickens as “hands-off.” She believes that the permit requirement is in place to allow the City to intervene in cases of unhealthy living conditions and animal abuse.

It seems East Lansing residents are abiding by the permit rules and good practices regarding chickens. In 2019, the City Clerk reported no complaints, violations, or revocations of Backyard Chickens permits.

Before you jump onboard though, make sure private property restrictions, like those from home owner associations, don’t prohibit raising chickens in your backyard. For those not restricted, Halversen urges East Lansing residents willing to be mindful of their neighbors and put in a bit of effort to give it a try.

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