JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A two-year pilot program allowing homeowners to raise hens in their backyards is going over easy in Duval County.

Officials say the interest in backyard poultry-raising is strong. They've already issued 213 permits and only 300 are available. Before owning hens, homeowners have to attend classes on nutrition, feeding and baby chick management.

County officials say most permits will be focused in Riverside, Springfield, the Westside and Mandarin.

The hen program is the result of a grass-roots movement created to promote backyard poultry-raising. Some people see the hens as an educational opportunity for their children. For others it's about fresh eggs, or simply a way of life.

Wally Conway "It's exciting to see Jacksonville finally on board with the backyard hen movement," said enthusiast Wally Conway. "Historically people always had hens in their backyard.  It wasn't until after World War II where we had grocery stores and things going on."
 
At the end of the pilot program, county officials will reevaluate the program before opening it up to new hen owners. Beaches cities are considering it, too.