Freeport-area business rents hens by the pair
When Phil and Jenn Tompkins decided they wanted a non-traditional way to bring in income, they looked at their small flock of chickens and hatched a plan.
“We knew people who wanted chickens but didn't know what you needed to do to raise them,” Jenn said. “We had chickens. It was then that Rent The Chicken was born.”
The premise behind Rent The Chicken is exactly as the name implies. You rent chickens and everything necessary to take care of the egg-producing fowl.
“We include a coop, feed dish, heated water dish, 100 pound of chicken feed and two egg-laying hens,” Phil said. “Renting is an open doorway. If they decide they don't want to do this, they can always chicken out.”
The A-frame coops were designed and built by the couple at their home in Clinton near Freeport. The small coops were built to be easily moved around a yard and to protect the hens from predators.
Customers rent the chickens from as early as June to November — a prime egg-laying season. When the winter winds start to blow, the Tompkins pick up the chickens and take care of them through the cold weather. They allow customers to adopt the birds if they happen to become attached to them during the rental period.
Rental fees are $350 for six months, and birds that die for any reason other than neglect are replaced. The couple said the pair of hens will produce from eight to 14 eggs a week.
The couple has rented out nearly 60 coops after projecting to do only about 15 in their first year of business. They believe a lot of the early success is due to the trend of people becoming more aware about what they eat and additives that can be found in commercially raised food.
“People are asking, ‘What am I eating?' ‘Is my food healthy?' They are turning to people like us,” Phil said. “My grandmother lived on a farm. My mom was on that farm until she left high school. I was raised in the city. There's a generation that missed that ‘farm to table' life. People want to get back to these roots.”
The couple said they have had inquiries for rentals from as far away as Texas, Maine, Washington and Florida. But because they personally drop off their chickens to customers, they have limited their delivery area. The farthest they have traveled has been Philadelphia, and they have one delivery planned for New Jersey.
They think the instant gratification of having chickens that lay eggs immediately has been a big selling point for their business.
“We live in a society that likes things right away,” Phil said. “If you buy peeps at a store, you have to wait six months until they start laying eggs.”
But it's more than just those freshly laid eggs that are winning customers over. The chickens themselves are causing families to flock to the Tompkins website.
“We have a chicken cam in our backyard for our website,” Phil said.
The live-camera feed, which gives potential customers a birds-eye view of the poultry, has won more than one customer over, they said. And when customers see their chickens in person?
“We brought out the chickens, and they got all excited,” Phil said about one of their deliveries. “They were shouting, ‘Wow, there's the chickens!' They were adult, and they acted like kids.”
Rent The Chicken offers five breeds of hens, all known for their egg-producing capabilities and heartiness, but some customers choose their chickens based on unusual criteria.
“Someone in Pittsburgh told us what kind they wanted — a Golden Buff and a Black Australorp. They wanted a golden one and a black one to represent the Steelers,” Jenn said.
Kathleen Edwards is a freelance reporter.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kittanning Light Up Night a celebration of holiday spirit, bittersweet endings
- West Kittanning health center could reopen after Pa. Supreme Court ruling
- Police probe Kittanning Cemetery scam
- Kittanning men’s club donates $1K to foundation for sick children
- Program energizes students at Manor elementary school
- Armstrong students put Thanksgiving feasts on the table
- Latest resignation leaves Ford City planning board with only 2 members
- Raucous crowd packs meeting to back Ford City police force
- Model trains on display to help Ford City food bank
- Health Center could reopen after court ruling
- Football game DVD raising money for Armstrong school program