It is a moderate 40 degrees outside when Colleen Steers and her daughter Erin go into the backyard to feed their chickens.
Despite it being a warmer than usual day, the chickens are hesitant to leave their shed until Colleen and Erin entice them out with chunks of sliced bread. Colleen prefers the warmer times of the year when the chickens are in their outside enclosure on their own volition.
The Steers have had chickens at their Cedarburg home for the last three or four years. Colleen enjoys having the chickens for fresh eggs, a food upgrade that she stands by in terms of improved taste. Erin feels more attached to the chickens on an emotional level. After all, she has names for all six: Coco, Duffy, Eagle, Shamrock, Smokey and Stella.
"We don't have any dogs or cats, so these have been my pets," Erin said.
The Steers are among several residents of Cedarburg that have been keeping domesticated chickens in their backyards, a practice that is not technically legal. The discussions of whether or not to allow domesticated chickens in the city started at the Jan. 30 common council meeting. Topics included limiting the number of chickens per residence, noise levels and sanitary conditions. Several residents in attendance voiced their approval of allowing their neighbors to keep chickens in the backyard.
Colleen Steers is one chicken owner who sees the merits of regulations being put in place for chickens to be legally owned.
"I guess you wouldn't want an influx of breeders in the area," said Steer. "Also, roosters would actually make a lot of noise as opposed to regular chickens."
Fellow chicken owner Jill Hepburn feels strongly about the noises that her chickens make.
"There's something about the chickens that add to the ambiance of my yard. It's quite peaceful," said Hepburn, who, like Steers, also enjoys the fresh eggs that her flock produces. Both women stressed the attention they give to their chickens in terms of waste management, coop upkeep and space to roam.
The common council tabled this discussion at the last meeting but will resume at the Feb. 27 meeting.