In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh. I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting, unique, and fun NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh. Then, I write about them here!
I’ve been flirting with the idea of raising backyard chickens for a few years now. Although I’m not a “homesteader” by any stretch of the imagination, I aspire to become more self-sufficient. Keeping hens for their eggs seems like a great place to start! Plus, I love the idea of embarking on a new domestic adventure with my children. Bringing some new animal friends and a little taste of rural life into our home sounds like a lot of fun!
What’s kept me from getting chickens up to this point? Commitment phobia! I’m concerned about signing on for the ~10yr life span of a chicken. For this reason, I was thrilled when a friend recently sent me information about a new local business: Rent the Chicken!! Last week, I had a chance to interview the owner, “Homestead Jenn” and here’s what I found out about Rent the Chicken (in her own words):
What is “Rent the Chicken?“
Rent The Chicken is Homestead Jenn and Homestead Phil’s answer for families who want an opportunity to experiment with “urban homesteading” by raising backyard chickens without signing on for a long term commitment. We provide families with two egg-laying hens, a portable chicken coop, 100 pounds of quality chicken feed, a water dish, and a custom Rent The Chicken feeder for a 6 month period. Renters should expect to experience a slice of urban homesteading and the benefit of 8-14 farm fresh eggs per week!
What is the cost to Rent The Chicken?
The cost for the standard six month Rental Period from May/June through November is $350. We ask upfront for a $50 non-refundable deposit, which can be paid through our website with paypal, by sending a check, or with a major credit card over the phone. Full payment is due at time of drop-off. We also offer an upgrade to organic non-GMO feed for an additional $50. In order to reduce the cost, Rent the Chicken offers a Referral Program. For each friend or family member that you refer, you receive a $50 discount on your 2014 Rental Period. If you have FIVE friends or family members sign up before your delivery date, you do not need to pay anything more than your original deposit (and non-GMO feed upgrade if applicable)!
What breeds of chickens do you have available for rent?
Currently we have White Rocks. Golden Buffs, Rhode Islands, and Black Australorps are due to arrive soon. These are all breeds that are known for their egg-laying ability AND are hardy enough for Pittsburgh winters!
Where is your business based?
We live just north of Freeport, PA, about 40 minutes northeast of Pittsburgh. We will transport the hens and their supplies directly to your house.
Do you provide information about raising chickens for amateurs like me?
Upon receiving a paid deposit, we mail a copy of Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele to help our Renters be more prepared for their upcoming visitors. At delivery, we give a detailed tutorial on how to care for them and the functions of the portable coop. We are also available to answer questions via email, Facebook, text message, and telephone before and during the Rental Period!
What are the rules regarding keeping chickens in Pittsburgh?
There are two schools of thought about keeping chickens within the city limits of Pittsburgh. One is the official law, which requires an expensive permit, the need for a lot of land, and no roosters. Unfortunately, these permits are rarely approved. Another school involves P4-Pittsburgh Pro Poultry People. They are a group of urban-poultry keepers in Pittsburgh who seek to promote the joy of chickens within the city limits without permit requirements. They believe in a) asking neighbors for their approval before getting chickens b) assuring neighbors that fresh eggs will be plentiful c) reassuring neighbors that hens are usually more quiet than neighborhood dogs d) maintaining odors to a minimum and e) doing your best NOT to attract rodents. If a Renter is reported and does not have the permit, the chickens will not be confiscated and fines will not be issued without prior warnings.
Why did you start this business?
We have a growing desire to bring the “farm” closer to peoples’ tables, including our own! We raise chickens for their eggs and buy locally-raised beef and pork. We also grow a nice garden and can our vegetables to eat year-round. We combined our lifestyle choices with the knowledge that our friends also aspired to raise backyard chickens…and Rent the Chicken was born!
What do you think are the benefits to families of keeping chickens?
There are so many benefits! The eggs are of better quality with 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, more omega 3 fatty acids, and more vitamin A, E, and beta carotene. Also, raising backyard chickens is an exciting experience for the entire family! It’s so much fun for children to pour the chicken feed, watch the chickens eat, and open the back hatch of the coop to retrieve eggs daily!
Anyway, I really love the idea of Rent the Chicken. I think it could make great strides to expand the “Farm to Table” movement, especially to folks (like me) who are just teetering on the edge of being ready to commit more fully. Plus, I think my kids would love having some new backyard companions for the beautiful, warmer months ahead!!
Want to connect with Rent the Chicken? Here are links to its website and Facebook page. Those with questions are encouraged to give them a call (724-305-0782) or send an email to info@RentTheChicken.com.
I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!