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Raising chickens popular in Chicago

CHICAGO, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Chicago resident Anna Osterbur Petersen says her five chickens have become the talk of the neighborhood, especially among children.

"Can I pet the chickens? Can I feed the chickens?" Peterson said neighborhood children repeatedly ask her. "We've met many of our neighbors this way. People have endless questions and misconceptions about chickens and chicken raising. We kind of see ourselves as these chicken ambassadors talking to people about what the deal actually is."

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Raising chickens is legal in Chicago, and it has become something of a movement across the nation, Peterson said in a Chicago Sun-Times report Sunday.

"They're brown and soft and they eat worms," said Hadari Grayer, 7, Peterson's neighbor.

Hens are more popular because they don't crow, Peterson said, adding you don't need roosters for eggs.

More than 300 chicken enthusiasts signed up for an online chicken raising group and more than 200 people have taken chicken raising classes at the Chicago Urban Initiative of Angelic Organics since 2008, the report said.

"Those are people who are speaking English, using the computer to communicate and interested in networking around this stuff," said Martha Boyd, program director at the Chicago office of Angelic Organics.

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"There are an awful lot of people in addition to them who keep backyard chickens because they've always done it and don't care if there's a movement," Boyd said.

Chicago pastor Jacob Gaugert was a sixth grader when he got his first flock of chickens. He now has two flocks.

"They make excellent pets," said Gaugert, 29. "You really can tame them. They will learn their names."

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