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Rent-A-Chicken Business Takes Off
After starting to raise backyard chickens, Leslie Suitor started setting up others with chickens and coops to house them. Her business has gone national as she licenses her Rent-A-Chicken business to others around the country who rent out chickens to friends and neighbors.
  “We license with people who want to get into the business of supplying chickens,” says Suitor. “They get to use the Rent-A-Chicken name and get coop plans and designs, breed recommendations for their area, as well as everything we have learned about the business, including contracts for use with customers. Also, we handle all their marketing.”
  In exchange, Suitor and her husband get 5 percent of the licensee’s rental fees. The fees cover 2 hens, a 4 by 8-ft. coop with enclosed run, bedding, waterer and feed. They can run from $300 to $400 for a season for the standard package. However, customers can get more birds, a larger coop, chicken treats and toys, organic feed, and other extras that add to the price. Contracts run through the local spring, summer and fall. However, customers can also purchase their hens, coop and accessories. Birds can also be tagged and returned the following season.
  Suitor and her husband started Rent-A-Chicken about 7 years ago in the Traverse City, Mich. area. It has since spread through licensees from New Hampshire and Connecticut, south to Virginia and west to eastern Illinois, eastern Colorado, western Oregon and Sacramento, Calif.
  “We’re hoping to be in most major cities in the near future,” says Suitor. “Prices on rentals vary depending on local farmer suppliers. We tend to focus on heritage breeds. Americanas, with their blue and green eggs, are wildly popular.”
  The Suitors thoroughly check local ordinances before signing up a licensee. That alone can be a task. “Chicago suburbs are a patchwork quilt,” she says. “Chickens can be allowed on one side of a street and not on the other. Most ordinances allow up to 4 hens.”
  Suitor says the business picked up with the recent avian flu outbreak and the increase in egg prices. “All our licensees were maxed out with rentals by mid-July,” says Suitor. “Every time there is a food scare, people start looking at where their food comes from, and we rent chickens like mad.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Leslie Suitor, Rent-A-Chicken (ph 231 463-6670; Hens4Rent@gmail.com; www.rent-a-chicken.net).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #5