It’s one of a flock of new businesses catering to consumers who want a simple food source that is closer to their tables.
In 2013, Rent the Chicken was hatched and since then it’s been expanding all over North America including Saskatchewan. This spring, operations in this province will take flight and the business will spread its wings in the Saskatoon area, Prince Albert and Regina.
“This is really the first year that we have been advertising and putting ourselves out there,” Shanda Bradford said.
Rent the Chicken allows people to have farm fresh eggs right from their own backyard without the long-term commitment of a permanent chicken coop.
“If you do the package with two hens you’ll get about a dozen eggs every week, we say between 12 and 14 eggs every week,” Bradford added.
For a few hundred dollars the chicken coop and the hens are delivered to yards from May to October.
“It’s a turnkey operation,” said Jenn Tompkins, co-founder of the company which is based out of Freeport, Pa.
“This is why our program is so popular, they want to be able to try out backyard hens with a chicken out option. So if they chicken out we’ll pick up everything and take it back and they’re finished with their backyard chicken experience – no questions asked.”
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The coops are portable so there’s not a build-up of droppings leading to an unpleasant smell, said Tompkins. They also don’t rent out roosters which tend to be noisier and the hens themselves are said to be a little quieter than the average neighbourhood dog.
Anyone interested in wanting to rent a few egg-laying hens, however, needs to do their homework. You could be ruffling some feathers by participating in the program and you’d be breaking bylaws in both Saskatoon and Regina.
“In some cities where there is a bylaw, it’s a complainant-based bylaw,” Bradford stressed.
“So they should be talking to their neighbours, making sure they’re OK with them having chickens. If there’s no complaints, there’s no problem.”
Officials in Saskatoon said keeping livestock in residential areas, including housing hens, isn’t permitted because of the risk of disease and nuisance complaints from time to time.
“In our opinion, take the risk! It’s worth having those fresh eggs where you’re knowing where that one single food source is coming from,” Tompkins said.
If people realize they’re born to raise backyard chickens, there’s an option for adoption.