(Updated, 5:34 a.m.)

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Backyard chicken farming has gone from country bumpkin to hipster chic in recent years, but zoning regulations vary widely from one municipality to another. In Wausau, raising chickens within city limits is still illegal.

That could change soon, as city leaders ponder a proposal to allowing backyard chicken farming in Wausau The measure was approved Tuesday by the public health and safety committee and is subject to full council approval at a June 13 meeting.

Under the proposal, homeowners could apply for an annual $35 permit to allow up to four hens in homes zoned as single family residence or two family residence districts. Only property owners would be granted permits, which would be valid for one year.

Chicken coops would be required to be placed in the back yard area of a home at least 10 feet from the property line and at least 25 feet from the home itself. Between sunrise and sunset, chickens would be allowed to roam in a run that would provide at least three feet of space per chicken up to a maximum of 24 feet.

Sales of eggs would be prohibited, and owners would not be permitted to slaughter chickens on the premises.

Many Wisconsin communities have legalized urban chicken farming. Madison legalized the practice nearly a decade ago, while Appleton finalized their chicken ordinance last month. In 2014, Wausau leaders rejected legalizing chicken farming, the last time the idea was floated.

So why are backyard chickens all the rage?

For one, multiple studies have demonstrated that pasture-raised eggs, from chickens given space to peck for food, are more nutritious than industry-sourced eggs, with pasture-raised eggs containing two to three times more omega-3 fatty acids and one-third the cholesterol of factory-farmed eggs, according to Mother Earth. Urban farming is also considered a move toward sustainable living.

No roosters would be allowed.

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