Backyard chicken rental company coming to Saskatoon despite bylaw

Saskatoon residents will soon be able to rent a chicken from a married couple in Dalmeny and have it delivered straight to their door.

Rent the Chicken will provide hens, a coop and advice for taking care of them

Chickens are banned under Saskatoon's Animal Control Bylaw. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

A chicken-renting affiliate that delivers egg-laying hens straight to your door is extending their service to Saskatoon, despite a city bylaw prohibiting the poultry.

"The more I read about it, the more I thought it was a great idea," said Shanda Bradford, who runs the Dalmeny-based Rent the Chicken affiliate. She hatched the business after seeing news coverage about the issue.

Last year, Saskatoon's city council rejected the idea of a university project aimed at studying the benefits of having the creatures in an urban backyard.

Chickens are banned under the city's Animal Control Bylaw along with gorillas, hyenas, alligators and sloths, but that's not stopping Bradford.

She said there is a market of people who want backyard hens but did not grow up around them and don't possess the necessary expertise.

Bradford and her husband will deliver the bird in person, along with supplies such as a portable coop and advice on how to take care of the birds. 

The personal delivery service also serves a practical purpose. They'll be able to meet the renters and make sure the hens will be treated well.

Rent the Chicken has been operating in North America since 2013, according to the company website. Phillip Tompkins, founder of the company, said there is very little risk to renting a hen. 

If you decide you can't live up to the task, the company simply takes the hen right back, he said.

Tompkins, who spoke with CBC from Pittsburgh, said the idea is about expanding one's knowledge. 

"It really is to help get one simple food source closer to your table," he said. "Every single person out there wants to know where their food comes from."

If you're thinking about renting some hens, Phillips' advice is to speak with your neighbours. He said a few hens will produce less noise than a dog barking down the block and they'll produce less waste than a big dog.

The City of Saskatoon said Rent The Chicken needs a non-resident business licence to operate in Saskatoon, and that it wouldn't usually issue a licence to a business that's operating outside of city bylaws.

A city spokesperson told CBC it would usually investigate if it becomes aware of a business that's not complying with bylaws and that it would contact the business to educate them about the rules. 

The Saskatoon deliveries are set to begin in May.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning


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