In early 2017, Brode Lydick, a middle-school student from Redwood Falls, sat before the city council with a request. He wanted to raise chickens at his house in city limits.
Other communities, he argued, had put policies in place to allow for that opportunity.
After researching the idea, the city council voted in favor of Lydick’s request, and that, said Lydick, is when the real work started.
“I had to apply for a permit,” said Lydick.
In order to do that, he had to establish a place in his backyard for the animals, and he had to go around and talk with all of his neighbors about his plan.
Once he was given the green light by the neighborhood and the chicken coop built in the backyard was inspected and approved, Lydick ordered his first animals. That, he agreed with a smile, is when the fun began.
Lydick had been exposed to livestock production when he visited David and Jody Bunting’s farm outside of Redwood Falls. Having the opportunity to help out, Lydick fell in love with it and wanted more.
So, he came up with the idea of raising his own in town.
“I got my permit in July,” said Lydick.
Recognizing the need to get the process started, Lydick said he ordered his hens earlier and kept them at the Bunting farm. That way he would not have to wait as long to start seeing the results of his efforts – eggs.
With his permit approved by the city, Lydick brought his six chickens to their new home. The City of Redwood Falls under its policy allowed for only six chickens to be raised at any permitted site, and so with that limit Lydick select-ed the birds he wanted.
Lydick selected Rhode Island Reds and a breed of Ameraucana hens to raise. The selection was not random, as Lydick said he did a lot of research before placing his order.
“The chickens I picked are supposed to be cold hardy,” explained Lydick, adding he also selected breeds that are known for having good egg production.
As time went on the chickens grew, and then one day Lydick discovered he had a bit of a problem. Under the rules of the city policy, only hens may be raised in town. The crow coming from one of those chickens meant he had five hens and one rooster.
Knowing he had a limited amount of time to address the situation, Lydick got to work.
“I had one day to get it out,” said Lydick.
Ultimately he was able to swap chickens with the Buntings – his Rhode Island Rooster for a White Rock hen. The good news for Lydick is that the hen he got in the exchange was older and was already producing. That also helped to provide some variety in the coop.
Lydick said he wanted to have different colored eggs when production started, adding the Rhode Island Reds lay brown eggs, and the Ameraucanas lay bluish-green eggs. With the addition of a White Rock that lays white eggs, he had three different colors of eggs to collect.
Lydick said it was exciting to see his first egg in the nest of one of his hens, and once the others reached maturity that number increased.
Lydick said he typically is getting between four and six eggs every day.
The son of Bryan and Nicole Lydick knows it is his responsibility to take care of the hens, which means getting up in the morning and checking on them before school and then coming home to check on them after school, too.
“At night I will go out one more time and check on them,” said Lydick.
Feeding and watering them, as well as gathering the eggs, is all part of Lydick’s role as a chicken farmer, and he said he still likes doing it.
“I have learned to be more responsible,” said Lydick, adding he knows it is his job to make sure they are cared for, even if that means he can’t go out and play right away with his friends. “The chickens come first.”
The eggs Lydick is collecting are being used by his family, but there are extras. Using social media, with the help of his family, Lydick has been able to sell them. He sells his eggs for $3 a dozen.
Yes, said Lydick, he does like to eat eggs, adding the most popular way to eat them at his house is scrambled – although he said his mom has also used some of them for baking, too.
Typically hens produce at a higher rate for about two years, said Lydick, and after that the production starts to slow down. So, every couple of years he anticipates getting a new flock in to help ensure the production remains consistent. Lydick said he loves having the chickens at his home.
“At the end of the day when I go out to check on them the third time I like to put a little feed in my hand and then let them eat it out of my hand,” said Lydick. “I really like that.”