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Chickens move into governor's mansion

Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 11:59 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:02 a.m. CDT
(AP photo)
Herman Lewis, the mansion’s master gardener and chief chicken tender, holds one of eight chickens Friday that peck at flowers, recycle plant waste and provide manure for the gardens inside a fenced-in enclosure at the Illinois governor’s mansion in Springfield. They’re part of an ongoing sustainability effort championed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

SPRINGFIELD – Things are getting a little fowl at the Illinois governor’s mansion.

A flock of eight clucking hens has moved onto Executive Mansion property, laying eggs that are eaten by guests dining at the home in downtown Springfield.

The chickens, which peck at flowers, recycle plant waste and provide manure for the gardens, live in a donated coop that’s inside a fenced-in enclosure. The poultry’s part of an ongoing sustainability effort.

Backyard chickens are legal in Springfield and several other Illinois communities and have become increasing popular as part of a local food movement, among other reasons.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reported the chickens typically lay an egg a day, which is often scrambled with cream by mansion staff. The barnyard animals have also become a popular spectacle for schoolchildren visiting the 159-year-old Italianate home.

“It’s really the highlight, much more so than the house,” said Mansion director Dave Bourland. “They all ask, ‘Why do you have chickens at the governor’s mansion?’ ”

The hen house includes various types of chickens, including Rhode Island Reds and Ameraucanas, which were rescued from a nearby farm. The hens munch on chicken scratch and garden vegetation.

There is, however, one thing missing from the backyard.

“We don’t have a rooster,” said Herman Lewis, the mansion’s master gardener who tends to the chickens. “They’d make too much noise.”

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