Friday, April 22, 2016

Chickens for Rent

BY RENE THOMPSON Maybe you’ve considered raising chickens, but you have no clue how to get started and are unsure about making a year-round commitment to caring for chickens. Now, you can try your hand at urban chicken farming without these risks. Fowling Around SimsFarm in Corrales, N.M., makes it simple to experience “farm fresh” eggs. Through their Rent the Chicken program, customers can rent hens and other birds for part of the year without a long-term commitment. The farming rental concept is new to New Mexico, but more than 30 chicken rental locations that offer such urban farming programs exist in the U.S. and Canada. In Corrales, Rent the Chicken bundles include two to four egg-ready chickens, a hand-built coop, a waterer and a six-month supply of organic feed that ranges; packages range from $450 to $650. Fowling Around Owner Gary Simms says SimsFarm plans to host a booth at this year’s Corrales Growers Market. The booth will sell eggs (chicken, duck, turkey and quail) along with birds, and Rent the Chicken packages. The Corrales Growers Market (500 Jones Road) happens every Sunday. The farm also offers free delivery within a 50-mile radius. If people grow fond of their hens and want to keep everything in the packages, the final cost to adopt these rented hens is $250 for two and $350 for four. According to Fowling Around’s website, the Standard Rental Package or Standard Adoption fees may be discounted or even free if customers refer up to six friends. There are 15 to 20 different breeds to choose from at any given time, and Simms said some are in more demand than others. Two hens can produce anywhere from eight to 14 eggs per week, and four hens can lay 16 to 28 eggs a week. The package includes Lisa Steele’s book “Fresh Eggs Daily,” so you know what to do with those eggs. If customers have concerns or questions during the rental period, they can get advice and answers through the national Rent a Chicken program, which offers online resources and a toll-free number. Small yards aren’t a problem, as the program was designed for customers with yards as small as a 10-by-15-foot space. All coops are on wheels and portable, so they’re easy to move around. If a rented animal gets sick, SimsFarm guarantees a replacement within the 50-mile delivery range, so long as the chicken isn’t sick or dead due to neglect. Simms will also offer a “Hatch the Chicken” program to educate customers over a five-week rental period. This package include seven fertile eggs, a how-to guide and book, a Chick Starter Kit, an incubator, a heat source, a brooder box, wood shavings, chicken feed and water and food dishes, as well as support. Feed should last for the first two weeks of the chicks’ lives. “At the end of this program, they have the option to return everything, including the chicks, or they can adopt,” Simms said. “The usual challenge is that when you have a hatch, about 50 percent of the chicks are roosters, which most people can't have or don't want. In our adoption program, we will guarantee four hen chicks for them to adopt — regardless if only a couple hatch or if the entire hatch are roosters.” Simms notes that customers can “chicken out” at any time and return the animals to their homestead in either program. He said this platform is an excellent way to for families, schools, daycare programs or senior centers to teach and learn about how chickens develop and hatch.   “We hatch chickens, ducks, turkeys and quail continuously, and I can assure [you] the process is never boring.  It will definitely capture the attention and hearts of young children and grown adults alike,” said Simms. To learn more about renting chickens or hatching chicks, visit

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