Couple Cash In On The Live Chicken Rental Craze

By Mary Ann Thomas
The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jen Tompkins’ motto is: “No experience with chickens? No worries.” She and her husband will set you up with everything you need to have your own backyard chicken, producing farm fresh eggs in no time.

The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.

It’s “Rent The Chicken,” not “Rent-A-Chicken.”

Local entrepreneurs Phil and Jenn Tompkins stress the distinction because their South Buffalo Township-based business, Rent The Chicken, in their assessment, is on top of the pecking order of live chicken rental businesses, which includes Michigan-based competitor Rent-A-Chicken.

Rent The Chicken continues to add customers after the Tompkins hatched the business five years ago for supplemental income promoting a shared value of the couple: Homesteading — producing yard-to-the-table fresh food.

The success of the business illustrates the popularity of backyard hen houses, especially in urban areas.

Nearly 4 percent of households surveyed in four major American cities planned to have chickens in the coming years, telltale of the growing acceptance of urban farming, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It seems among urban dwellers, younger folks have a more favorable opinion of allowing chickens in their neighborhood: The range of pro-chicken opinions ranged from almost 29 percent of respondents 65 years or older to 61 percent of respondents under 25 years old, according to the study.

Interest and acceptance of urban backyard chickens seems to skew younger, said, Dr. Lindsey Garber, author of the study. But she added, “It’s an observation without an interpretation.”

Additionally, a number of respondents in New York City in another USDA survey were fairly new to chicken ownership, she said.

Jenn Tompkins says her clientele is new to chicken keeping; that’s why they want to start out renting them.

“There is a generation gap of people living in the city,” she said. “Their parents grew up in the city and suburbs; maybe grandma had chickens.”

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