Company offers rental chickens for would-be farmers on the fence

A new way to backyard farm

MERIDIAN -- The do-it-yourself campaign is nothing new, but what if you could test out the idea first? One local company is allowing you to do just that.

Idaho Hens is giving people the opportunity to test the waters of backyard farming. The company allows you to rent chickens. They provide the hens and you get to keep the eggs.

People have been farming in their own backyards for thousands of years.

"Right now the current number is about 90 million people in the United States garden or self-identify as gardeners," Advanced Master Gardener Gretchen Anderson said.

Anderson says that number has been on the rise every year as people work to cut down on their carbon footprint.

"You do a lot to reduce our food mile and our food mile is the miles between farm to fork," she said. "Right now in the country it's 1,500 miles," Anderson said.

Beans, corn, peppers, and carrots aren't the only things found in a garden anymore. Backyard chickens are starting to become popular.


"I think a lot of people are interested these days in sustainability and have their own food source, being able to pick it up fresh," Idaho Hens Owner Tiona Marburger said. "They want to eat local."

Marburger said the rental chickens stay with their new families during the warm months, and are picked back up by Idaho Hens when winter approaches. The renters can elect to buy the laying hens at the end of the season or arrange to have them brought back next year. Growers are provided with hens, a portable coop, feed, bedding, and containers.

"It's for a 6 month period for all the good months of the year where it's good weather, so from April until the end of October," she said."I think with the chickens if you're going to try before you buy, it's a great deal because you don't have that much invested in it."

The setup also gives home growers a first-hand education in backyard farming.

"Probably the most important is a tutorial, like talk about it. Get all their questions answered and get them set up," Marburger said.

Idaho Hens has only 20 coops are available. The process works a lot like renting a home or apartment: If you decide to rent the chickens, there is a deposit and rental package you pay for. If you later decide you don't want to rent anymore, you will be refunded the money from the rental package and the company keeps the deposit.

Residents who want to start raising backyard chickens should first check their local city ordinance and with your homeowners association rules to make sure the animals are allowed. City ordinances allow six hens in Boise, and ten in Caldwell and Nampa.

If you would like more information about renting hens a link to their website can be found here.


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