Grayslake to allow backyard hens for eggs

  • Sue Sturm, left, and her daughter, Natalie, are happy Tuesday night after the Grayslake village board voted to allow backyard hens for single-family homes.

    Sue Sturm, left, and her daughter, Natalie, are happy Tuesday night after the Grayslake village board voted to allow backyard hens for single-family homes. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

Updated 7/2/2014 5:59 AM

Grayslake residents needing a dozen eggs may not need to look farther than their backyards.

Village board members Tuesday night approved rear-yard chickens for residents in single-family homes. Trustees also agreed to several restrictions on the hens that may be kept for only egg-laying purposes.


Trustees and Mayor Rhett Taylor initially addressed the fowl proposal during an informal committee meeting in March, which is when they directed village administration employees to refine the conditions.

Residents Evan Mittlestaedt, 11, and 15-year-old Natalie Sturm helped bring the chicken idea to Grayslake's elected officials.

Evan approached Taylor in August 2012 at an informal mayor's coffee meeting to discuss village issues, while Natalie and her mother, Sue, provided a presentation to the Grayslake plan commission/zoning board of appeals this year.

"It's really exciting, so we're ready to go," Natalie said after the village board voted 5-0 in favor of the zoning and animal control ordinance amendments that were required for allowing the backyard hens.

Taylor doesn't foresee problems with the chickens, in part because noisy roosters are not permitted.

"Communities that have had (hens) as far as noise is concerned, there is virtually no noise problem," Taylor said. "And actually, the feedback I've gotten from police officers in other communities is that dogs are still the No. 1 noise-producing animal."

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Under Grayslake's regulations, single-family homeowners may keep up to six egg-laying hens in rear yards. Each chicken must stay in a separate 6-square-foot enclosed coop at least 8 feet from a neighboring property line without violating nuisance laws.

Residents may not sell the eggs nor slaughter the chickens. Single-family homeowners who want the hens must register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture Livestock Program.

Backyard chicken expert Margaret Fox-Hawthorne of Harvard said anyone who wants to keep the animals should know about heath concerns, feeding, behavior and predators. She's a retired teacher who has owned a small farm for about 25 years.

Fox-Hawthorne taught a one-day class on raising backyard chickens at College of Lake County in Grayslake on June 28 and hopes to return there in September.


On the up side, Fox-Hawthorne told the Daily Herald, hen raising can be a good experience for children, while the fresh eggs have more nutrition than those in supermarkets.

However, Fox-Hawthorne said, the hens generally have an egg-producing limit of three years. Because of expenses associated with keeping the chickens, the eggs at home are not cheaper than getting them at a store, she added.

"I really want people to have a realistic view of it," Fox-Hawthorne said.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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