• Every municipality in the metro area and beyond has its own ordinances for keeping chickens. While most communities allow the practice, some forbid chickens in residential neighborhoods.

• Requirements vary from town to town, from fees to the number of birds allowed. Some communities require an inspection and permit or the consent of adjacent neighbors before giving the go-ahead for a backyard flock.

• Light regulates the laying process. As days shorten, hens produce fewer eggs. Some owners put artificial light in their coops to stimulate laying in the winter.

• Chickens live five to 10 years, but their laying life is three to five years.

• Chickens living in insulated henhouses are adapted to withstand Minnesota's harsh winters. Owners must be sure birds have a constant source of fresh water, either by delivering buckets to the coop several times a day or installing an electrically heated water fountain.

• The Centers for Disease Control advises that children under 5 and those with weakened immune systems shouldn't handle poultry because they are more susceptible to salmonella and E. coli infections.