Backyard chickens allowed in Beloit Township
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BELOIT TOWNSHIP Blame it on the rooster.
The brief visit that a very vocal rooster made at the Rudnitzki home in Beloit Township sparked a push to pass an ordinance to allow backyard chickens.
Now, the Rudnitzki family’s neighbors are considering having their own chickens after the town board this month unanimously approved an ordinance allowing up to four chickens on lots of at least 40,000 square feet.
The township is the latest among a growing list of municipalities that include Madison and Milwaukee to allow backyard chickens. No roosters are allowed, and chickens must be in enclosed pens, said Howard Hemmer, interim town administrator. No slaughtering is allowed.
Jeremy and Tina Rudnitzki had chickens at their home on Marilyn Parkway all six years they’ve lived there. They kept them as pets and to show their four children where food comes from, Tina said.
When Abigail, 5, was sick and in the hospital early this year, her grandpa, Roger, hoped to cheer her up.
“He surprised her and brought a rooster to keep for just a couple weeks to see if we could get a couple chicks,” Tina said.
The rooster didn’t play along and woke up the neighborhood early, resulting in complaints to the police. The family received a citation and an order to get rid of the chickens and rooster.
“They were our pets. We were really upset about it,” Tina said.
Tina went door to door in her neighborhood, she said, and found it had taken a couple years for some neighbors to find out they even had chickens.
Neighbors encouraged her to start a petition to change the ordinance. Tina and Abigail gathered more than 40 signatures to present to the town board.
“One little visit from the rooster kind of stirred everything up for us,” Tina said.
The story ends happily. The town dropped the fine, and the family chickens returned home after a stay at a relative’s farm.
“My little 5-year-old said we fought for a good cause and we won,” Tina said. “She loves her chickens.”
Some of the family’s neighbors are interested in having their own backyard chickens, Tina said.
“It’s really become a popular trend right now, and with the economy, people are trying to find any way to save money,” she said.
The family’s four hens each lay an egg per day, a number that decreases when daylight gets shorter in winter, she said. The chickens eat table scraps and weeds from the garden, while they provide fertilizer for the garden, she said.