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Backyard chickens at home in Oak Park

With her shiny, caramel-color feathers and alpha female presence, Sunny the hen rules the roost in Paul Wicklow's backyard in Oak Park. In Wicklow's eyes, she's a big and beautiful bird. But self-labeled "urban chicken consultant" Jennifer Murtoff has a different view. "She's one of the most overweight chickens I've seen," Murtoff tells Wicklow, noting the "subcutaneous fat" on the bird. "You need to scale her down. She should lose one-third to half of her weight." Her stern warning that the prized fowl is obese and at risk of an early death is purely professional. The Oak Park woman has hatched a part-time job out of teaching new and wannabe chicken owners in the Chicago area how to raise fowl in an urban or suburban environment. And as more and more towns allow chickens to be raised in backyards, there's a demand for what she calls her "innate chicken knowledge." Click here to read the full story.

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