What came first — the chicken, the egg or the ordinance?

In 2020, 9-year-old Kennedy McCafferty brought a petition to the council to consider amending the city code to allow residents to keep chickens in their neighborhoods. Now two years later she’s one happy chicken farmer.

A girl holding a chicken.
Kennedy McCafferty holding her favorite chicken "Raptor" Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Baxter.<br/>
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — When parents teach their children about civics and local governments, not often does that lesson actually include getting a city ordinance changed, but when Kennedy McCafferty was told she could not own chickens in Baxter, she did just that.

“Well, I've never really been a city girl, I'm more of a farm girl and I have a strong love of animals,” Kennedy McCafferty said. “I just really wanted more animals by me.”

A girl standing in the kitchen
Kennedy McCafferty talking chickens in the kitchen Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

In 2020, Kennedy’s parents, Breanne and Neal McCafferty, felt their daughter was old enough to take on the responsibility of caring for chickens. Looking to build a chicken coop and run behind their house, Breanne McCafferty called the city to get the building permits and found they did not allow chickens within city limits.

“So we sat down, and I told her, 'Well, the bad news is that we cannot get a permit for the chickens, but the good news is we live in a democracy so we can try and change their minds,'” Breanne McCafferty said.

For part of her civics project, Kennedy wrote a couple of emails to the council and then started a petition . She started contacting people through Facebook and attended several zoom meetings with the city council , in which she spoke to them and just explained why she wanted them to allow chickens within city limits.


Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson remembers her presentation, as a 9-year-old, being very sincere and said she did a very good job putting together a request for her local government.

A girl feeding some chickens
Kennedy McCafferty feeding her chickens in their run Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Baxter.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Kennedy said the whole process was interesting, although attending city council meetings was “definitely a little bit nerve-wracking.”

On the day of the vote, it did take some convincing for Kennedy to leave her family at the swimming pool and attend the council meeting where her amendment would be voted on, Breanne McCafferty said.

After much debate, the Baxter City Council, in a split 3-2 vote Tuesday, July 21, 2020, decided in favor of permitting urban chickens in R1 residential properties.

“They voted and said we could do it,” Breanne McCafferty said. “So she got her permit and we got four chickens.”

Breanne McCafferty said her daughter still goes out every morning, rain or shine, to care for the chickens. “It's been a real fun adventure for her,“ Breanna McCafferty said.

“It's a lot about responsibility and it's a commitment,” the now 11-year-old Kennedy McCafferty said. “So I'm doing the water every day and feeding them. See, if I grow up on a farm, it’s twice as much work.”

During the wintertime, Kennedy’s out at the coop around 7:30 a.m. grabbing the water jug to bring inside to get it defrosted, Neal McCafferty said. “It's her project, and she's doing a good job with it.”


As she talked about how all her chickens have different personalities, Kennedy said some of them can get on your nerves and sometimes they can be a little bit a little naughty, trying to get out of or into things they shouldn't.

Also helping his big sister with her chores is Brody McCafferty and as they are part of the family, the chicken's names are Raptor, Kennedy’s favorite -probably because it's the one her brother helped pick out, Henrietta, Evie and Kaite-Cluckston.

Getting about four eggs a day, keeping chickens is not really cost-effective Breanne McCafferty said, but the family always has a fresh supply of eggs.

As of April of 2022, Baxter and Brainerd each have two permitted residents within city limits keeping chickens on their property.

Kennedy said her chickens lay better tasting eggs. Her parents recalled a time the family was eating out for breakfast and Kennedy asked why the restaurant's eggs tasted funny.

Girl running
But as Kennedy McCafferty shows us, there's always enough time to play around for a bit Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Kennedy looks to own a farm one day where she can have all the animals she wants, especially horses, her favorite. Until that day, these chickens will go from leading a civics lesson to teaching responsibility and commitment.

“They're just overall such fun little animals to have around,” Kennedy McCafferty said, grinning from ear to ear. “This morning, it was kind of raining and I went out, and I had let them out to run around in the run. So they were all a little bit wet and they just ran around.”


TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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