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Eau Claire business rents chickens to urban farmers

Richard Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio

For urban dwellers in Wisconsin interested in getting a feel and a taste for farming, there’s a new option: chicken rental.

At a farm just outside Eau Claire, a white building bustles with dozens of chickens of different breeds – barred rocks, Rhode Island reds and Buff Orpingtons. The farm’s owners, Kristina Beuning and Whitney Coleman, both heavily involved in community supported agriculture. Last year, they decided to take that model to the next level by renting out chickens.

The business is called Home for a Hen, and Beuning says it’s the first of its kind in Wisconsin.

“This is really an ideal situation for somebody who wants to be an urban chicken farmer,” said Beuning. “We call them fair-weather urban chicken farmers.”

The first step to renting a chicken, says Coleman, is to learn about local ordinances. For example, some cities don’t allow them. The would-be chicken farmer also has to think about how much time they want to commit.

“So we have a five-month package and we have a two-and-a-half month package and (for) both of those, we deliver the chickens and the coops and everything that you need in May or the beginning of June,” said Coleman.

Each coop comes with two chickens, capable of laying a dozen eggs per week. Beuning says she hopes Home for a Hen makes money, but they've got bigger goals in mind.

“We really want to reconnect people to their food – in this case eggs – to learn about where their food comes from, and to recognize that food doesn’t come from a grocery store,” said Beuning.

Home for a Hen now joins a very small list of chicken rental businesses in several states including Alabama, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

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