Fresh eggs, natural pest control, fertilizer for your garden–all of these sound great, right? Have you ever thought about having some chickens in your backyard? More and more people are now, and there are lots of petitions going around as people want to be able to have chickens on their property.
Believe it or not, chickens can make good pets. They can be friendly and even affectionate. Just like anything, the more time you spend with them (especially when they are very young), the more friendly they will be towards you. One of our chickens seems to like it when we carry her around and if we gently rub her head, she closes her eyes and goes into a trance!
Even if you don’t dream about carrying chickens around, there are other great reasons to have them in your yard. One of my favorite things about them: they are excellent for pest control. All they do all day long is walk around the yard and pick bugs out of the grass. All day. They eat those awful ticks and mosquitoes that we all hate. Since adding more chickens to our flock, I have noticed less and less issues with ticks (and we have a lot of forested areas on our property which equals lots of ticks).
Now this next benefit can be seen as both good and bad: fertilizer. Yep, I’m talking about chicken poop. And they poop a lot. A lot. The good thing about it is that it is excellent for your garden.
Finally, the biggest benefit to having chickens and the reason most people want them in the first place, is for their eggs. Yes, delicious fresh eggs every morning. Once hens reach about 6-7 months old, most will lay an egg every day. We have been told by many people that our hens’ eggs are the most delicious eggs they’ve ever had. I have to agree, they are very good. Now that we have 10 hens, we seem to have an incredible amount of eggs in our fridge all the time. Lucky for us, we love eggs in our family! And we have many other animals who do too, so it works out well.
The not so good:
There are requirements (which vary depending on the area you are in), as to whether you are allowed to have chickens or not, depending on how your property is zoned. And if you are permitted to keep chickens, there are specific requirements as to what kind of coop you must have. Some villages require that you have a special permit for the chicken coop (and if you are in any unincorporated area, you must also have a permit as well). Chickens must be put away at night and the coop must be very secure. There are weasels all around Lake County and they are known for being able to find a way into a coop through a very small hole. Sadly, they can kill all your chickens in no time at all.
Our chickens like to stay out roaming the yard until almost the last minute as the sun is going down. We are always fanatic about getting them safely into their coop on time, as a few months ago, my husband witnessed a weasel grabbing one of our chickens as the chicken was heading into the coop. Luckily he rescued the chicken, but now we are extra careful about not letting them stay out past sunset.
Just remember, chickens are animals and they need care and attention, just like your other pets. They are smarter than people give them credit for too. I never thought I would become attached to a chicken, but it has happened several times. All our chickens have names, and they each have their own little personality too. Some are friendly towards us, others keep more to themselves, and one prefers my four year old over everybody else. She took a special liking to her when she was just a year old, and to this day will still run across the yard to my daughter when she sees her.
All that being said, if you are interested in having chickens of your own, here are the areas in Lake County that do and do not allow them. Please make sure you always call your local municipality first to find out any specific requirements and to verify if your property is zoned for chickens.
Backyard Chickens in Unincorporated Lake County:
Most areas allow chickens, but please check on the zoning regulations for your particular property.
On lots that are 10,000 square feet, six hens are permitted. If you have 20,000 square feet, eight hens are allowed. If you have 40,000 square feet, 10 hens are allowed. Twelve hens are permitted on 80,000 square feet. Roosters are not allowed on lots smaller than five acres.
There are special requirements for chicken coops such as:
- there must be a minimum of three square feet per hen,
- chickens must be allowed to go outside,
- coops may no taller than eight feet,
- coops must be fully enclosed,
- coops can only be placed in a fully fenced back yard,
- coops cannot be placed in a front yard or between the house and the road,
- chickens must be returned to the coop each night and be secure,
- coops must be placed at least 30 feet away from any structure, and
- chicken coops must be registered and permitted through Lake County (available for a $25 fee) from the Lake County Central Permit Facility in Libertyville.
Other areas in Lake County:
Please be sure to check the municipality’s code for all pertinent details and permitting fees involved with keeping backyard chickens.
- Antioch: Yes, hens only, no roosters.
- Deer Park: Yes, hens only, no roosters.
- Fox Lake: Yes, hens only, no roosters. Lots must be 9,750 square feet or greater, and property owner must obtain a permit.
- Grayslake: Yes.
- Gurnee: Yes, but minimum acreage and setback requirements apply.
- Highland Park: Yes.
- Highwood: Yes, on certain sized lots only.
- Lake Barrington: Yes.
- Lake Bluff: Chickens are allowed on lots over 10 acres.
- Lake Villa: Not permitted.
- Lake Zurich: Not permitted.
- Lincolnshire: Not permitted.
- Lindenhurst: Not Permitted.
- Mundelein: Not permitted.
- North Barrington: Yes, hens only, no roosters, are permitted on lots over 40,000 feet, but no more than six hens are permitted per lot.
- North Chicago: Not Permitted.
- Round Lake: Not Permitted.
- Round Lake Beach: Not permitted.
- Round Lake Heights: Not Permitted.
- Round Lake Park: Not Permitted.
- Volo: Chickens are permitted only in certain zoning districts.
- Wadsworth: Chickens are permitted only on lots that are five acres or more.
- Wauconda: Not Permitted.
- Waukegan: Not Permitted.
- Zion: Not Permitted.
Did your town make the list? Does your family want to have backyard chickens?