City folks learn lesson on chicken coops

Published 6:22 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

She lives on Kraner Lane, her friend lives on South ChurchStreet, they each live in the city limits and they each have theoption of owning pets. However, their pets just might cluck andprovide breakfast food.

Linda Bruner, of South Church Street and Kathy Behan, of KranerLane, as well as Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceprogram director Kay Burton, have contemplated raising chickens onBehan’s 15 acres of land as a way to join the organic movement thathas recently become popular and to release their inner farmer.

“It’s organic; it’s kind of getting back to simpler things,”said Burton. “I think it’s all about things we didn’t experience aschildren.”

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The three were of nearly 30 residents of Lincoln County andBrookhaven who flocked to the chamber of commerce Wednesday tolisten to clucking experts inform them how to begin their ownbackyard coop.

“They have the information to make an informed decision as to ifthis is something they want to start as a hobby,” said MississippiState University Lincoln County Extension Director RebeccaBates.

As knowing what you eat and being Earth-friendly has become oneof the biggest trends in America, city residents don’t want to becaught flying the coop without getting to dabble in the art ofegg-plucking.

As it turns out, raising chickens is perfectly legal in thecity.

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes read to the roost from thecity’s ordinance regulating animals and fowl. Estes recommendedthat if any city slickers were itching to raise chickens, theyshould form a committee and appear before the board of aldermen tomake sure they are following the proper pecking order when it comesto the city’s guidelines.

“This was very important to give everyone a good reality andlook at it,” Estes said of the lesson.

Besides the number of chickens able to be owned by those insidethe corporate limits, the ordinance also dictated that the animalscould not become a public nuisance through excessive noise andodor.

However, Jessica Wells, a member of the MSU Poultry ScienceDepartment – who was helping to lead the lesson – said the chickensdid not always have to be so foul.

“Good management is key,” said Wells. “With good management youshouldn’t have problems.”

Wells and fellow department member Danny Thornton informed theaudience members how to construct their pens, tips on how variousbirds behave, ways to retrieve eggs, various diseases and a wholelot of other knowledge to satisfy any amount of chickencuriosity.

“If you’re going to try anything, chickens are probably the bestthing to start out with,” said Wells.

In the end, the harsh realities of fecal matter and aggressivehens may have proven to be excessive and plucked the chicken crazefrom some would-be farmers.

“It’s too much work,” said Behan.