Elgin continuing backyard chicken program

  • Ketchup is one of three hens owned by Todd Martin of Elgin, who is among 11 residents who have permits for chicken coops. His other two hens are Marge and Fluttershy.

      Ketchup is one of three hens owned by Todd Martin of Elgin, who is among 11 residents who have permits for chicken coops. His other two hens are Marge and Fluttershy. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Ketchup and two other hens owned by the Martin family of Elgin produce about two eggs per day.

      Ketchup and two other hens owned by the Martin family of Elgin produce about two eggs per day. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/14/2016 5:40 PM

Elgin plans to continue allowing up to 15 homeowners to have backyard chickens after city council members were told the one-year pilot program has been a success.

There are nine coops with 36 chickens whose owners got permits under the program that kicked off in January 2015, senior management analyst Aaron Cosentino said Wednesday at the council meeting. Two more residents have permits for coops but haven't built them yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Council members had the option of establishing an ordinance allowing backyard chickens at single-family homes, but agreed to continue the pilot program and revisit it if there is demand for more than 15 permits. They are expected to take a formal vote later this month.

The council's decision was good news for Jamie and Rick Yucuis, who are among the 11 permit holders. "I'm happy that the council in general was favorable to the experience," she said.

The Yucuises' four hens -- the maximum allowed -- produce about two dozen eggs per week that get shared with family, friends and neighbors, Jamie Yucuis said. The hens are true pets who recognize their owners and have distinct personalities, she said.

The endeavor also is about sustainability, she said, because food waste goes to the chickens, who are omnivores, and grass clippings are reused as bedding for the chicken run and then composted for the vegetable garden. "Thinking about our prior trash footprint to now, it's so much less," Yucuis said.

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Todd Martin of Elgin designed and built his chicken coop, which got its first residents in September.
  Todd Martin of Elgin designed and built his chicken coop, which got its first residents in September. - Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Resident Todd Martin said his three hens yield about two eggs per day. He wanted to have chickens to learn about agriculture and teach his children in the process, in anticipation of his future life as a farmer, he said.

It's also important to practice a more sustainable lifestyle by growing local food and reducing harm to the environment, he said.

"All of my neighbors are very supportive," Martin said. "The chickens are very easy to care for. They have been quiet, and they let me pet them. They are well-behaved chickens. It has been a positive experience. The biggest downside is they do poop a lot, so you have to clean the coops."

Todd Martin of Elgin says owning chickens is about sustainability and learning about farm life.
  Todd Martin of Elgin says owning chickens is about sustainability and learning about farm life. - Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city has allowed residents who buy baby chicks to keep them indoors until they are fully feathered at six to eight weeks. That's a great help because it's difficult to find feathered chicks for sale, Jamie Yucuis said.

In the last year, animal control took action only once regarding the pilot program, when a rooster was removed from a property, Cosentino said. At an average startup cost of $940, including the coop, permits and supplies, "it's not by any means a cheap hobby," Cosentino said.

At least 14 suburbs allow backyard chickens, including Batavia, Naperville, West Dundee, Bartlett, Libertyville and Warrenville.

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