Backyard chickens growing in popularity

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WICKSBURG, Ala. (WTVY) -- As more people look to grow their own food, keeping backyard chickens is becoming a popular trend—even in the Wiregrass.

"There's nothing like a good organic fresh egg."

Shelia Spurlin of Wicksburg is known for her colorful chicken coops.

"I wanted to have the eggs, but I also wanted to create that free-range atmosphere,” says Shelia. “I'll be standing at the kitchen sink, and all of a sudden all of the girls are out roaming on the grass, and I'm like, 'This is what it's all about right here!'"

The 7-acre Spurlin farm is also home to one donkey, two goats, two ducks and one dog along with the 47 chickens. The Spurlins never hurt for eggs on their breakfast plate-- their chickens produce 2 dozen eggs a day!

"I get green eggs, brown eggs, cream eggs, white eggs, and they're plentiful, believe me,” insists Shelia. “I'm sick of eating eggs!"

But you don't just have to live in the countryside-- these days everyone wants in on the fun. Chickens are now becoming more popular in urban areas, as more people look to eat local and grow their own food. The City of Dothan allows chickens only on a case-by-case basis. You must have at least half an acre, and keep chickens in a coop. They can't roam free. And absolutely... no roosters!

"You don't go to the store all the time and get an egg, you can go to your backyard and get an egg,” says Shelia. "The benefits are that you can get the eggs, they clean up all the bugs around you, they're natural exterminators."

And Shelia tells us the chickens have another benefit.

"When I'm stressed out, I'll just go down there and talk to them, and they just flutter around you and have this little language, And when I go in and see that they gave me an egg, I say, 'Thank you girls for my prize!" and they just go, 'Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk!' If you have room for a couple of chickens, even if it's just 3 or 4, do it!"

So if you think you're ready to add a few chickens to your backyard, Shelia has one especially valuable piece of advice:

"You've got to have a good pair of rubber boots period!"

If you live in the City of Dothan, and want to keep chickens in your backyard, contact the Planning and Development Office first to apply.