In response to increased interest in raising backyard chickens from people with little to no clue about the process, Jenn and Phillip Tompkins created Rent the Chicken, a startup that enables prospective urban farmers to try it out without committing long-term. Customers willing to shell out $350 will get two egg-laying hens, along with supplies and an optional hands-on lesson. The Tompkinses will replace any chickens that are snatched by predators, but will charge fees if they die out of neglect. For now, their territory is limited to parts of western Pennsylvania, where they live.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Raising backyard chickens is a lot more complicated than most non-farm people think, and the proof is in animal rescue centers, says Jenn: “[They’re] now getting the random chicken dropped off at their facilities as well.” By providing hens that are already laying, Rent the Chicken eliminates the 16-24 weeks needed for chicks to grow into adults. It also prevents a mistake experienced by Jenn’s cousin: She received chicks that grew into roosters.