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As the urban-homesteading movement puts down ever-deeper roots within Indy’s city limits, the genteel farmers of SoBro, Irvington, and the like have naturally turned to livestock—specifically backyard chickens. You might have noticed. The annual Tour de Coops bicycle ride, organized by local advocacy group Nap Town Chickens, attracts hundreds of poultry voyeurs on a self-guided outing. An escaped rooster—a fine-looking heritage breed—took up residence in the fountains of Monument Circle over the winter. The Pet Supplies Plus in Broad Ripple now carries chicken feed. And who hasn’t been asked in the past year to start saving egg cartons? The trend has caught on, but contrary to the hype, this is no five-minutes-a-day hobby; it takes some pluck. Expect to invest at least $400 in the most basic coop (and around $1,000 for something more durable/fashionable). Beyond that, there are bags of feed to buy and scatter, nesting beds to winterize, sick chickens to nurse, and lots of poop to sweep. Here, we count out a dozen tips for raising a flock, crack open a list of chicken-friendly resources, get perspective from a longtime egg producer, and introduce some urban farmers and their fine-feathered friends. Now, that’s something to crow about.
 CHECK LOCAL ORDINANCES
Indianapolis has no laws against raising roosters and hens. But other locales, like Lafayette and Noblesville, are not so chicken-friendly. And even if a municipality gives backyard chickens the thumbs-up, neighborhood covenants might deem them verboten. Certain blocks in the Fall Creek Place neighborhood, for example, call foul on backyard fowl.
 KNOW THE BREEDS
When selecting a flock, three qualities matter most—egg production, winter hardiness, and temperament (yes, chickens have personalities). Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and Leghorns are good egg-layers that can withstand Indiana’s cold winter. If you simply want a few feathered companions, go with some mop-headed Silkies—a small, docile breed with downy feathers and a penchant for cuddling.
 GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
Coops come in all shapes and sizes—from scrap-wood shanties to Neiman Marcus’s $100,000 Beau Coop, complete with a chandelier. You can download blueprints or buy kits from online companies such as Amish furniture-maker dutchcrafters.com. The interior should encompass 2-to-3 square feet per bird and have both a roosting bar (where the chickens sleep) and nesting boxes with straw (where the hens lay their eggs). Chickens also need a bit of room to stretch their legs—a chicken run. Plan for at least 4 square feet of outdoor space per bird.
 FEATHER THE NEST
Beyond the bare essentials, a coop can be tricked out with heated water bowls and 24-hour lighting to increase egg production (because hens only lay when it’s light out). A bedding of inexpensive pine shavings absorbs moisture and odor, sweeps up easily, and makes great garden compost.
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