Tupelo encourages backyard chickens

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – If fresh daily eggs sound appetizing, a city workshop on backyard chicken farming this Saturday is a must.
The free, 90-minute class will teach residents everything they need to know about raising poultry in an urban setting – where to keep them, what to feed them and how to care for them.
It starts at 9 a.m. at the downtown Community Garden on Front Street, just south of the Tupelo Farmers’ Market. The class is offered as part of the University of Mississippi adult education program, and anyone can participate.
“Yes, it’s legal to keep chickens in Tupelo,” said the class instructor and city environmentalist Sherrie Cochran. “You’re not allowed to have roosters, though, because they’ll cock-a-doodle-do your neighbors to death.”
Cochran purchased six chicks to raise at the Community Garden in something called a chicken tractor. It’s a mobile coop that can be moved around the yard every few days. It allows the chickens free range while keeping them safe from predators – and also limits how much damage they can do to a lawn.
“Have you ever seen the ground under a permanent coop?” Cochran asked. “They scratch and look for bugs and can tear up the ground if they stay put for long enough.”
But short-term lawn exposure can be healthy, she said, because the hens eat weeds and provide fertilizer.
According to Tupelo’s ordinance, residents can keep hens in an open area as long as they have at least one acre to roam, and a minimum 250-foot buffer separates them from neighbors. Otherwise, residents must pen the chickens; coops can’t exceed 200 square feet and must be kept clean at all times.
Workshop participants will learn how to build their own mobile coops, which meet city code. They’ll also hear about other penning options.
“There is a growing interest in sustainable gardening and food in the urban space,” Cochran said. “It’s really good for young kids because they get to see where eggs come from.”
In addition to the Saturday class, Cochran will demonstrate proper chicken care at the Community Garden throughout the summer to children, whom she calls her “Chicken Tenders.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.

Urban chicken farming workshop
– The city will hold a free, 90-minute workshop at 9 a.m., Saturday at the downtown Community Garden on Front Street. Anyone can participate. For more information, call Sherrie Cochran at (662) 841-6510 or Sherry Miller at (662) 690-6205.