I recently read an article about a company that allows people to rent chickens. Interestingly enough, when I began to look further into this ‘rent a chicken’ business, I found several more companies in Canada and the United States with similar corporate models.
For a fee, customers receive two to six egg-laying hens, a coop, a supply of food and a water dish for a pre-determined rental period. Some companies offer a purchase plan whereby the ‘renter’ becomes the proud owner of the kit and caboodle if they should decide that they want to remain an ‘urban farmer’.
The City of Edmonton where we are from has a program that promotes urban gardening and agriculture, specifically growing food on empty lots throughout the city. The interest in backyard chickens grew partly out of the ‘eat local’ food movement. This is all an effort that seeks to lower the ecological impact of food production by reducing the distance that food is transported, thus lowering the carbon impact. To that end, the City of Edmonton has started an Urban Hens Pilot Project, which appears very successful. I’d be somewhat concerned about keeping those hens warm in the winter, but I imagine the cost of building the coop includes a heating system.
I find this all fascinating, though we have chickens running all over the place in our little town, and I’m not interested in keeping any of my own. I have enough trouble trying to keep the Gallinas de Calle from making a mess in our front garden where they love to dig for the bugs that seem to include a good deal of their diet. I also wouldn’t want to have to worry about the snakes, mice, and coyotes that they seem to attract. No, I’ll purchase my locally produced eggs and greens from the little store that my friend has opened and count that as my contribution to the environment…in the campo.