Grab a pair of boots and get ready for a taste of farm life. The Traverse City business Rent-A-Chicken is connecting people nationwide with the local agriculture scene.

Each spring, Rent-A-Chicken Founders Leslie and Mark Suitor start delivering chickens to kids and adults who will take care of them for the summer. “This has been one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” Leslie says. “When we show up to drop off the chickens, we’re like Santa Claus. I don’t know who is more excited, the kids or the adults.”

Renters are provided with two laying hens, a portable coop and enclosed run, 50 pounds of feed, a water dispenser and a feeder. Leslie helps set up the coop and gives a chicken care tutorial at the time of delivery (don’t worry, an owners manual is included, too!). “Chickens are the easiest animal to keep,” she says. “They don’t need a lot of daily maintenance. Just check their food and water.”

The chickens are fed GMO-free feed and are able to graze on grass and bugs. “Because the chickens are getting a balanced diet, the eggs are healthier,” Leslie says. Free-range eggs have up to one-third less cholesterol than store-bought eggs, and they have higher levels of Omega-3, vitamins and minerals, she adds.

In addition to getting healthier eggs, raising chickens helps teach children and adults life lessons. “It teaches compassion,” Leslie says. “Kids realize they’re bigger than the chickens. and they’re responsible for taking care of them—they pick up on that.” Chickens can also help lower blood pressure and calm nerves.

Photo by Rent-A-Chicken

If you’re interested in renting chickens, Leslie recommends getting on the list early. The business is booked solid every year. Deliveries typically begin in April and May, so reserve a spot in December or January (the earlier the better!).

Renters are given options at the end of the season to buy their hens or to rent the same hens again. “Some people get really attached and rent year after year,” Leslie says. “One mother told us her daughter kept asking, ‘When are my friends coming?’ The mom couldn’t figure out who she was talking about. It was her chickens!”

Rent-A-Chicken was started in 2010. Since then, the business model has spread to 19 states and counting. Rental prices and packages vary by each farmer. Locations and individual contact information are available here.

Click here to contact Rent-A-Chicken Traverse City. 

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Photo(s) by Rent-A-Chicken