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Royal Roost Works to Take the 'Guesswork' Out of Backyard Chicken Farming

As laws governing urban farming have been repealed around the Milwaukee area, more people have started keeping backyard chicken coops. 

Credit Joy Powers

This comes as good news for Karen Krumenacher, owner of Royal Roost - a local consulting service that offers help to backyard chicken farmers, like herself. She explains, "I try to make it easy and take all the guesswork out for people, because what I’ve found is what you read on the internet is pretty scary."

Krumenacher started keeping chickens when she and her husband moved from the city into the Pewaukee area. They had a lot of land and loved to be outside, but the wooded area around their home was a little daunting. So she decided to clear some of it and create a chicken coop. She hasn't looked back since. 

Royal Roost was founded more than 20 years ago, at a time when keeping chickens in the City of Milwaukee was illegal. Since then, the city has changed the law to allow people to keep a maximum of four chickens on their property, and Krumenacher has seen interest soar since then.

While she is quick to say that raising chickens is a pretty easy endeavor, there are some key things to keep in mind when keeping them in an urban environment. 

Credit Joy Powers
Turks posing in front of a chicken coop.

She says, "They don't need a lot of space, especially if you get the right breeds, that's kind of key: Know your breeds; know your breeds that are non-flighty, non-aggressive, good egg-layers, winter hearty. These are all important factors when you want to dive into chicken raising." 

Although they don't need a lot of space, there are specific requirements for their coops. Chickens use dirt baths to keep their feathers clean.

Kumenacher explains, "They need to have access to dirt - it should be like a 50/50 split of sun and shade... It should just be kind of this area that includes a coop and a fenced-in run in area for them to keep them contained."

Chickens also need to be able to hide during the day, because of predators. While the Milwaukee area is home to foxes and coyotes, Kumenacher says they are less likely to be a problem because they're out at night when most chickens are asleep in their coops.  "The biggest predator you really have to deal with is going to be a hawk, because they're mostly out during the day." 

Kumenacher continues, "I would not let that deter you from all the happiness that comes out of backyard chicken raising." 

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect.