A farmer in Freetown, P.E.I. is offering chickens for rent for the summer.

Sally Bernard of Barnyard Organics is offering customers a chicken coop and either two or four hens from June to October. In the fall, the chickens return to the farm.

Bernard is the first P.E.I. affiliate of Rent the Chicken, which started two years ago in Pennsylvania and has spread to 15 states and two Canadian provinces. She said her farm has offered a community-support agriculture program - where consumers pay up front for a season of farm fresh produce - for several years and renting chickens was the next natural step.

Rent the Chicken

Sally Bernard of Barnyard Organics is offering a chicken rental program on P.E.I. this summer. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"People are really excited about it," said Bernard.

"It's sort of hip right to be a farmer right now. I saw a T-shirt the other day that said a farmer is the new hipster. You know, you could say this is a bit of a trend, but I also think people really are serious about wanting to get really invested in their food system."

Bernard said Rent the Chicken kit costs $275 for two hens, 450 for a larger coop and four hens.

Check local bylaws

Several municipalities have rules that control the raising of chickens.

In Charlottetown there are two bylaws that would apply to backyard chickens. One that says you can't have an outdoor animal enclosure, and another refers to what happens if the birds become a nuisance.

In Cornwall, chickens are only allowed in the parts of the town zoned for farms and not in residential zones.

In Stratford, domestic fowl are prohibited under the Animal Control Bylaw.

In Summerside, someone wanting a few backyard chickens would have to obtain a permit from the animal control officer and has to alert their neighbours.

The Rent the Chicken package includes

  • Rent from June to October
  • 2 organic brown hens (laying anywhere from 10-14 eggs/week)
  • 1 movable coop
  • Feed and watering dishes
  • 50 kg of organic laying hen feed
  • 1 package of hen grit
  • 1 package of oyster shell
  • The book Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele
  • Getting Started Guide for raising hens

For mobile device users: Is Rent the Chicken a good idea for you and your neighbourhood?