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Published July 22, 2013, 10:10 AM

Backyard chickens

Some Rapid City residents say the city council should follow the lead of other communities in South Dakota and elsewhere that allow people to raise chickens in their backyards.

By: Rapid City (S.D.) Journal,

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Some Rapid City residents say the city council should follow the lead of other communities in South Dakota and elsewhere that allow people to raise chickens in their backyards.

A group known as the Rapid City Hens is hoping to convince the city council to allow up to six hens within the city limits. A similar effort to pass an ordinance in 2011 failed after a 5-5 vote.

Jeannine Bockwoldt, president of the Black Hills Poultry Society, says the idea of raising a few chickens within the city should not be a problem.

“As long as they’re talking that small number, it’s not going to be an issue,” Bockwoldt says. “You’d have to be in someone’s backyard to know about them.”

Connie Johns, of Black Hawk, has about 60 chickens on her rural property. She says her three-acre spread is a great place to raise chickens, but she wonders if the noise and odors will be acceptable in an urban area. Still, she advocates for keeping chickens if it is legal.

“I don’t have a bug or a grasshopper on my property, and we used to have a snake problem, but they will kill snakes,” Johns says. “It’s a good hobby to have for the kids. They love them, and they go out and gather the eggs.”

Some other cities in South Dakota, including Sioux Falls and Spearfish, allow urban chickens.

Chickens have always been unofficially allowed in Sioux Falls, but there were no guidelines in city code until April. The city now allows up to six chickens inside city limits without a permit; more can be kept with a license and approval from neighbors.

Sioux Falls does require that uneaten food be removed on a daily basis and that feed stored outdoors needs to be kept in a closed, weather-resistant container.

Shawna Goldammer, the city’s zoning enforcement manager, says she isn’t aware of any objections about residents keeping chickens.

Billings, Mont., gave backyard chickens an official OK about two years ago, according to Nicole Cromwell, city code enforcement supervisor. She says up to six hens are allowed and only about 24 permits have been issued since the ordinance passed. There have been few complaints, she says.

“It’s always been the culture of some neighborhoods in the city that people always had a bit of urban farming going on,” Cromwell says.

Johns acknowledges that the birds can be noisy and messy, not to mention expensive. She also says it’s worth it.

“We started it and we grew to love it,” she says.

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