What comes first – the chicken or the egg? This may not definitively settle the age-old question, but a growing number of consumers are acknowledging that eggs do come from chickens (not the grocery store) — and are now patronizing chicken rental businesses that have cropped up across the United States.
Poultry leasing is becoming popular, especially as more people want to make sure their eggs are fresh and come from humanely raised hens, The Associated Press reports.
And so along comes Rent the Chicken. As its name implies, the company rents out chickens. Based in Pennsylvania, Rent the Chicken has experienced fairly rapid growth. In just the past two years, the business has branched out to customers in New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and Toronto, Canada. The AP said:
The growth is not an aberration. Coop rentals are booming nationwide as residents in cities, suburbs and the countryside flock to the anti-factory, locally sourced food movement. Some families also rent fowl as an educational experience for their children.
Rent the Chicken’s prices vary. But a standard rental package in Maryland is $400, and includes a six-month rental of two egg-laying hens, a chicken coop and chicken feed.
Rent the Chicken owner Jenn Tompkins said renting chickens is a good option for people who want to try their hand at backyard farming.
“As a society, we don’t really like commitment,” Tompkins said. “We don’t want a contract on our cellphones; we don’t want long-term commitment with our cable company. With chickens, they can live to seven or 10 years, and people are a bit scared of that.”
Kellie Burke runs Urban Chicken Rentals in the Chicago area, according to the Daily Herald. For about $110 a month, you can rent a portable chicken coop, three egg-laying hens, chicken feed and some other supplies. Burke said she loves to share the “eggsperience” of having chickens.
“It’s becoming more and more popular. It’s not just a trend,” Burke says. “People are changing their lifestyles and taking control over their food.”
Before you make some chickens your backyard tenants, it’s important that you check both your local city ordinances, as well as your homeowners association guidelines, to make sure that it’s OK for you to have chickens.
The city council in the rural community where I live recently shot down a proposal to allow chickens within the city limits. I live outside the city limits, and each spring my husband and I talk about getting chickens, but we’re nervous about the commitment. If a chicken rental opportunity was available in our area, we’d likely consider it.
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