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Group asks city to allow backyard chickens

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A group is pressing the city of Hudson to permit residents to keep up to five laying hens in their backyards.

Hudson Urban Chickens, established by Jen Heriot, is expected to present its proposal to the City Council at its next meeting.

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The group is hoping the full council will see the issue differently than the Public Safety Committee, which voted 2-1 against its request.

"I love chickens. I think it's time we had them here," Heather Matthews, a member of Hudson Urban Chickens, told the Star-Observer last week.

Mathews is a city resident and a fourth-grade teacher at North Hudson Elementary School. She said her interest in chickens was piqued by incubating eggs and raising the chicks as a classroom project with her students.

When it comes time to find homes for the chicks, she never has a problem, Mathews said. "Because they can have chickens in North Hudson, there is just a really good demand for them."

According to Mathews, 23 of the 25 largest cities in the United States allow backyard chickens, including Minneapolis. New Richmond, Afton, Bayport, Stillwater, Maplewood, Roseville, Fridley and St. Paul are a few of the other cities in the region that allow chickens, she said.

She said the group is not asking for roosters, known for their crowing, to be allowed.

"Nobody wants roosters," Mathews said. "We're not looking to be in the chicken production business. We want to be able to have a sustainable food source in the form of eggs."

Mathews said the arguments against urban chickens are often based on misconceptions.

Hens aren't noisy. Small coops are cleaned frequently and don't produce an objectionable odor. The chickens are kept in a small enclosed run and coop.

"We have not had one city we contacted say there's more than two or three complaints a year, and usually it's because of chickens that are there without a permit, or because somebody sneaks in a rooster," Mathews said.

Dog and cat complaints far outnumber chicken complaints in those cities, but nobody proposes banning those pets, she said.

She said allowing five hens in someone's backyard isn't bringing the farm into the city any more than allowing a garden is.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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