Did you know you can rent chickens?
There are a slew of companies renting laying hens, complete with coops, feed and bedding. Has our rental culture gone too far?
These days, there’s no real need to own anything: cars, homes, bicycles and films are frequently rented or leased. But one thing that you might never have expected to rent was chickens. Believe it or not, there are a slew of companies offering rentals on laying hens, and they come with their own coop, feed, food and water dishes and an instruction manual.
What companies like Rent A Chicken, Rent a Coop and Coop and Caboodle offer is a low-hassle entry to the pleasures of daily fresh eggs. Chickens take around four months to reach the age in which they can lay, and after laying for a few of years they become irregular and eventually stop. In addition, if buying chickens on your own you have to spend time and money either building or a coop and all the associated paraphernalia. With these companies, the hens and equipment arrive in your garden, you have eggs the very next day, and when you get tired of looking after them and having your lawn torn to mud by chickens after three months you can send them back.
Two chickens will yield about a dozen eggs a week, which seems the perfect amount for a couple or a small family. The best part of eggs from the backyard is that satisfaction of knowing every step in the production process; anyone who’s had chickens in the garden will know that they taste so much better than ones from the shops, and whether this is actual, or just a placebo effect is hard to judge. Either way, there’s something so idyllic about nipping out to the coop in the morning, sticking your hand into the sleeping area, finding a couple of warm eggs before getting them inside and straight into the frying pan.
The prices vary for each company and each location, but this loaner ‘good life’ will cost a few hundred dollars even if you only want the chickens for a month or so. For that money, you might think, you could get all the stuff yourself and you wouldn’t have to give it up after a season. But the chances are you’d end up with a far shoddier collection of chicken equipment, and you’d also have to ‘deal with’ the chickens when they get past their laying age. For some, this is a task they would rather avoid.
It's tricky sending your beloved pet 'back to the farm' when they stop laying
There are other perks to using one of these services too; the company will ‘chicken-sit’ your hens if you go on holiday for a week, and you have access to a helpline of chicken experts to answer any queries you might have. Plus, for an extra fee you can ‘adopt’ your rented hens if you really do get too attached.
These companies are following a trend in how we like to consume goods, and are reaping the benefits; the sharing industry, in which companies offer products or services without transferring ownership, is growing, and is currently estimated to be worth a remarkable $3.5 billion according to the New York Times.
Our society is changing; now we are looking to collect experiences rather than material goods, and these companies are demonstrating the extents to which this consumer behaviour can be stretched.