Q. Dear Twig: Can I raise chickens in my backyard?
A: First ask your parents if you haven't already. Then check (maybe with your parents' help) the zoning laws where you live. Zoning laws tell people what they can and can't do in their yards. Sometimes those laws, especially in cities and suburbs, don't allow "farm" animals, chickens among them. Why? Fear of noise and too much poop. Which don't in fact have to be problems at all.
The good news: Some cities do allow chickens. Though usually there are limits. Such as no roosters (kind of noisy). Only so many hens (like no more than six or 10, for example, so the poop issue's never a biggie) (so to speak). And a certain ways away from your neighbor's house.
Other towns also might soon lighten up their laws. Why? To help more people grow more of their own food. Cleveland, Ohio — near my own home tree and where some famous basketball player plays or something — is one of them. And that's eggscellent.
P.S. Want to try? Check out Ohio 4-H Project #151, "Poultry Production: Raising Pullets."
"Pullets" are female chickens, usually less than a year old.
Also consider Ohio 4-H Project #153, "Raising Fancy Poultry." Various chicken breeds can be raised for it.
Ohio 4-H is part of Ohio State University Extension, which is part, yep, of Ohio State University. Go bucks! (Get it? Get it? An Ohio State/chicken joke? Erm, yeah, OK, sorry.)
Read more about Cleveland's changing chicken scene, including the role of OSU Extension's Cuyahoga County office in it, in Cleveland Scene, http://www.clevescene.com/stories/15/84/city-chicken.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.
Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu) and with Ohio State University Extension (http://extension.osu.edu). OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691; firstname.lastname@example.org; (330) 263-3776.