PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Some people go to a farm or outdoor market to get fresh eggs. Now, many just need to go to their backyard.

Rent The Chicken makes it possible for those in an urban or suburban setting to take just a few steps to get fresh eggs.

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Founders Jenn and Phil Tompkins tell the “KDKA Morning News” they started Rent The Chicken three years ago. The Armstrong County start-up has now gone nationwide with 40 affiliate farms and has even moved into parts of Canada.

Jenn says she started the business because, “I was due to lose my job, and I wanted to work from home, so we started looking around and did a search for crazy business ideas, and the [Small Business Administration] listed chicken rentals, and we had a couple of chickens, and [we’re] pretty handy with the power tools, so we saw there was a need and Rent The Chicken was hatched.”

So if you decide you want to rent chickens what do you get?

“You get the coop, you get [two to four] hens, you get all the feed, you get all the supplies. Plus, you get full support, and it’s usually a six-month adventure for the family both education wise as well as farm fresh food, which we like to say, yard to table,” Phil said.

The Tompkins say the difference between farm fresh eggs and store bought is amazing.

“You would not even believe it, the difference is amazing. The yokes are [bolder] and more orange and the egg whites are [stiffer],” said Jenn.

Of the 40 locations nationwide, Jenn says 10 of them now also have their Hatch The Chicken program. She says that program also provides the necessities.

“The incubator, the fertilized eggs, a book. The cage and the feed. The water dish. A feed dish,” said Jenn.

She says it takes three weeks for the eggs to hatch.

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“Then, our families, our preschools, our senior centers, can keep the baby chicks for two weeks,” said Jenn.

The chickens will start laying their own eggs at the age of six months.

The eggs that wind up on the griddle are the ones that haven’t been fertilized by the rooster. In other words, he’s the one who decides whether they turn into chicks or not. That’s something to crow about.

With their rental families, the pampered poultry become, well, pets.

“It doesn’t take long before they have names,” Jenn says. “They’re following them about in the yard, and they’re getting all kinds of table scraps.”

Renters have the option of adopting the birds. By the way, chickens are allowed in Pittsburgh – with a permit.

If you want to try your hand at raising chickens in your backyard, visit www.RentTheChicken.com

Listen to the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.

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