Mad City Chickens
2010-03-01 10:24:43 Posted By: Noreen - Ref
If you're interested in keeping a few hens in your backyard or if you're just in the mood for an interesting and funny documentary, check out Mad City Chickens.
The film opens and closes with a little sight gag, a professor and two hapless lab assistants being stalked by a Godzilla-size chicken through the streets of Madison. In between is a number of interviews with backyard chicken-keepers both veteran and novice, the owners of a pet-food store and a hatchery, and the editor of Mother Earth News.
It turns out you don't actually need much to keep chickens. A coop for two to three hens can be as simple as a large dog carrier and a run of galvanized wire fencing, both roofed and floored with wire to keep out predators. They need access to water and some type of chicken feed, but will happily supplement the feed by scratching up bugs in your yard. A Wisconsin winter is no problem for these birds. As one chicken-keeper in the film notes, the birds are hardier than she is. In return, you get a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half eggs a week and endless entertainment.
You do, however, need to live in a municipality which allows backyard chicken-keeping, as Madison does. La Crosse currently does not. In unincorporated areas of La Crosse County, it depends on the zoning. Several of the veteran chicken-keepers interviewed in the film admit to having had chickens before it was legal in the city of Madison, but you'd have to have understanding neighbors who wouldn't rat you out to the authorities. Bribing them with fresh eggs might help.