No one has detailed statistics but it seems a growing number of Garden State residents are keeping chickens in their backyards. It's a way to have an ample supply of farm-fresh eggs without having to go to a farm.

“It has become a trendy hobby. Some people in years gone by would raise rabbits, but for people today chickens have become interesting,” said Michael Darcy, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

He noted a hundred years ago, everybody had chickens running around so it wouldn’t have been thought of as anything unusual. But many towns are getting smart about chicken-raising so that it doesn’t cause a problem with noise and odors.

“With the trend going toward raising chickens in residential areas, sometimes there are ordinances necessary so that everyone can peacefully enjoy their neighborhood," Darcy said.

Some municipalities have specific rules about keeping chicken enclosures a certain distance from a property line, so neighbors are not adversely impacted.

“With the roosters, there’s usually a noise issue, and some municipalities will allow chickens but not allow roosters," Darcy said.

Darcy said there is no hard and fast rule about this.

“In most cases, yes, you could have a chicken coop in your backyard, you just want to check your local ordinances to make sure you have a back yard that’s big enough to handle the chicken coop.”

His advice is simple: Before rushing out and buying some chickens, check with the municipal clerk first.

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