Check out chicken raising with Rhent-a-flock
There’s a new breed of chicken on the South Coast, the type you can rent.
Patrick McBride launched Rhent-a-flock late last year for those wanting to try their hand as farmers without a long-term commitment. The season generally runs from April or May through the fall.
A former Marion resident, McBride and his family have raised chickens, ducks and goats through the years. When a friend inquired about borrowing chickens for a season, McBride hatched the idea for Rhent-a-flock.
“I realized there’s a business here for hobby farmers who want to try before they buy,” McBride said. “Backyard flocks are catching on across the country.”
For roughly $120 a month, McBride will deliver two hens in a portable, predator-proof coop, along with enough feed for three months. For $410, customers receive the same for six months. The price includes free delivery, set up, education and instructions on caring for the hens and recipes (for eggs only!)
When the rental period ends, customers may purchase the whole “coop and kaboodle,” as McBride calls it, or return the hens and coop when the season is over.
Aside from receiving about a dozen fresh eggs each week, the chickens come with an added benefit – entertainment.
“People who haven’t raised chickens before don’t realize this, but they have a lot of personality,” McBride said. “Once they’re comfortable, the chickens will follow you around the garden, let you pick them up and even get along with other pets.”
Convenience is another factor for backyard farmers looking to use Rhent-a-flock.
McBride said it's possible to order baby chicks, but retailers often send 25 or more.
“You end up with this big flock,” he said.
And then it takes about six months for the birds to mature before laying eggs.
“People like to rent things,” McBride said. “It’s the same idea behind companies like Zip Car. People are thinking, ‘I only want to use this service when I want to.’”
For the most part, McBride rents out Rhode Island Red hens. He also raises a few other breeds of chicken and Nigerian dwarf goats at Brook Hollow Farm in Westport.
McBride grew up around farms. His family owned a vacation home in rural Pennsylvania, and he lived on a farm in Vermont for about five years. A professional in the human resources field, McBride said farming has been a long-time interest of his.
“If I could make a living farming, that’s what I’d be doing,” he said.
Instead, he wants to make it easy for others to take up chicken raising, even if it’s just for a few months.
“I’m a hobbyist who is trying to get the word out to people who think they want to be warm weather farmers,” he said.
For more information on Rhent-a-flock, visit www.rhentaflock.com, call 774-309-0402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.