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Owning chickens scratches up controversy

Nationwide, the issue of raising chickens for eggs in residential areas keeps coming up - and same goes for Chicago's suburbs. West-suburban Naperville may start limiting the number of chickens its residents can raise.

Some towns have banned chickens altogether, while others like Northbrook and Naperville are still considering it. Naperville councilman Robert Fieseler said the few chicken coops in town have neighbors concerned.

"The unsightliness of a fairly crude chicken coop - it looks almost like a trash dumpster. And then the odor, and attracting predators - especially coyotes," Fieseler said.

At a Tuesday council meeting, the once-tabled issue came up again, and the council is now drafting an ordinance to cap ownership at eight chickens, require a registration fee and for coops to be a certain distance away from neighboring property. Naperville may vote on the ordinance as soon as next month.

Since December 2010, Evanston has allowed a max of six hens per household. Carl Caneva is the environmental health division manager for Evanston. He said seven households are currently registered and raising chickens, and so far there have been no officially reported complaints.

Brad Powers with Chicago's department of Animal Care and Control said Chicago does not currently have an explicit ordinance capping chicken ownership. He said other ordinances though do work to control potentially related violations. For instance, a rooster owner could get cited if the animal was too noisy, and his department would intervene if a person had too many animals to properly care for or was treating them inhumanely.

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