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Long Island Residents Look To Chickens To Eat Ticks

CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More and more chickens are making their homes in suburban backyards.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reports, many Long Islanders want them because they eat ticks.

She found the Raschdorf family, of St. James, shopping at a poultry farm Thursday.

"We're picking up chickens to bring to our school," son, Eric, said.

"We have chickens at home, but we're starting a coop at his elementary school," mom, Lisa, added.

Suddenly, chickens are all the rage.

"It's hard to keep up with demand. We do thousands and thousands of animals here every season," said Long Island poultry farmer Wayne Meyer.

He left the world of sports to become a poultry farmer.

"It's been a passion for a while. Everybody wants fresh eggs, everybody wants the natural fertilizer that the chickens give off. They're bug eaters, they eat ticks," he said.

Meyer raises them from hatchlings until motherhood, under the watchful eye of a possessive rooster. His farm has more than a dozen varieties, but all of them love to eat ticks.

According to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, chickens, guinea fowl and quail can help reduce tick populations.

Ticks are not especially fast movers, so chicks comp on them, helping to control diseases, viruses and bacteria spread by the pests.

"Within a couple of weeks, we realized, 'hey, it's funny, we're not seeing any ticks. Our do wasn't gnawing on his paws trying to get the ticks off.' We're like, 'wow,' and they we realized they're eating the ticks," said homeowner Christopher Paparo, whose family dog, Bullet, is also a fan of the chickens roaming in their fenced-in backyard.

His local ordinance allows six hens, and other suburban communities are relaxing codes to allow small coops.

"We're keeping them as permanent residents here at our house," he said.

With six chickens for $40 and low maintenance costs, Paparo called it an investment in health.

Local codes for coop cleanliness are strict. Hens, coops and yards must be registered and inspected.

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