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Indiana city broods over allowing backyard chickens

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A petition started three years ago in Noblesville to allow backyard chickens has gained renewed interest, an organizer says, and she plans to take the signatures to city leaders once they get enough support.

She says surrounding cities already have ordinances in place. Carmel allows six hens per house, and Indianapolis allows 12 hens and one rooster.

Shannon Letro, a Noblesville organizer of the backyard chicken movement, said, “For the people who think chickens are messy, they actually make natural fertilizer. Chickens are noisy. They actually make, per square yard, they make less noise than a lawn mower and a barking dog.”

Letro said the rising cost of eggs means this could help save her family of five money at the grocery store, and it would help teach her children responsibility when caring for the animals.

“My oldest is 7 and he’s learning a lot more chores and collecting eggs and cleaning out the coop and the run would be great for a kid his age,” Letro said.

Letro said she plans to speak to the people in charge of regulating animals. When the petition has more signatures she will present it to the city.

Robert Herrington, the communications manager for the mayor’s office, sent a statement to News 8: “The city has not received a petition or a formal request from residents about this topic. Once we do, the appropriate department(s) would review the request. Other communities are taking varying approaches to this issue and there are several factors that need to be considered in a growing area like Noblesville.”

Megan Sharp, the manager of Agrarian chicken store in Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple neighborhood, talked about upfront costs. Coops at their store start at $500, and the least expensive chickens cost $9 each.

“Five or six chickens, you will probably go through about a bag of feed a month. Our 50 pound bags of feed start at around $30, and, if you’re feeding organic, that can go up to around $50-$60. You can spend probably $20-$30 a month on bedding,” Sharp said.

Sharp said caring for chickens is not labor-intensive. They need access to food and fresh water all day, but can self-regulate and manage a few days’ worth of food at a time.

“Every couple of weeks you might do a complete deep clean and add new bedding. That might be a monthly chore,” Sharp said.