SPRINGFIELD - Grounds workers are beefing up efforts to make the Executive Mansion more environmentally-friendly.
They already recycle yard clippings and collect rain water. Now, as Eyewitness News Reporter Alex Davis explains, they're raising backyard chickens.
It's hard to tell who rules the roost at the Executive Mansion. Nine clucking hens are now calling it home. With some 50,000 visitors to the home each year, the chickens are becoming the highlight of the tour.
"It's a very, very popular thing."
Harris Lewis, the mansion's horticulturalist, says the hens do more than draw attention. They carry their own weight.
"Our best day has been eight eggs with nine hens. Pretty consistently six and seven."
Soon, he says, their waste will even go to work.
"We're using them to compost all our leaves. We work those into the coop. They're constantly scratching and pecking and their manure will help give that a good blend of greens and browns and it will compost quicker for us."
The hens are also educating people about the movement. towards organic foods.
"It's also a great teaching tool where we can teach a different method of sustainable living, in addition to the other sustainable features at the Executive Mansion."
This latest addition is just another green-friendly feature at the mansion. Workers say it takes a lot of work to make everything run smoothly, but it's worth every minute.
"This just letting people know there are lots of ways out there, to help preserve our earth for future generations."
The chickens eat lettuce grown at the mansion along with scraps from the kitchen. It's another way the mansion is becoming more environmentally-friendly.