Rent-A-Chicken delivers a coop, two hens and enough feed to last the summer to aspiring urban farmers on Colorado’s Front Range.
Rent-A-Chicken delivers a coop, two hens and enough feed to last the summer to aspiring urban farmers on Colorado's Front Range. (Provided by Jim Perry)

A new breed of backyard chicken has arrived in Colorado.

The rentable kind.

Rent-A-Chicken, one of a handful of chicken-rental outfits now proliferating across the U.S., is open for business in the Denver area, ready to give city dwellers a low-risk intro to backyard bird farming.

The concept is simple: For $400, or roughly $67 a month, you get two egg-laying hens, a portable coop and run plus enough feed to last about six months.

Jann's Henny Penny Farm outside Brighton will deliver everything to your home in the spring, typically in May, provide a quick tutorial and then come back in November to collect their brood and coop before winter sets in.

"We provide everything they need," said Jim Perry, one half of the husband-and-wife duo offering the service. "All they need to do is feed them and play with them and pick up eggs once a day."

Perry and his wife, Jann Symons, are licensing the Rent-A-Chicken name and concept from Leslie Suitor, who founded the chicken-rental endeavor six years ago in Traverse City, Mich.

The service has taken flight across Michigan, landing in Detroit and other cities, but Denver is its first out-of-state location. Similar businesses, with names like Rent The Chicken and RentaCoop, have also sprouted in Pennsylvania, Maryland and elsewhere.

Suitor said the business model is all about giving people the opportunity to test the waters of urban agriculture without a long-term commitment.

When you buy chicks at the feed store, for one, you won't get eggs for at least six months, and the wait could be as long as until the following spring, Suitor said.

"It's a very convenient option just to keep them during the summertime," Suitor said. "Or they'll realize, 'Yes, we can do this — it's easy peasy.' "

About half of Suitor's customers buy their brood outright at the end of the season, she said. Others prefer to rent every summer and not deal with backyard birds during the winter.

Typically, renters can expect about a dozen fresh eggs a week, Suitor said.

Perry and Symons both grew up on a farm and said after an initial head-scratch, they fell in love with the idea of giving Denver-area city dwellers — particularly children — a taste of rural life.

Right now, they have Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps and Ameraucanas for rent, with plans to add more types in coming years, Symons said. All are well suited to Colorado's climate.

Orpingtons and Australorps lay brown eggs, while Ameraucanas lays blue.

"We thought that would be more fun than a white chicken with a white egg," Perry said.

Throughout the summer, Perry and Symons will also be available to troubleshoot problems and answer any chicken-related questions.

"My wife ... she's the chicken whisperer," Perry said.

This first summer, Rent-A-Chicken is pro-rating the rental agreement, as well: $67 a month for the remaining time between now and the early-November pickup. Deliveries can be made throughout the Denver metro area and north into Longmont/Fort Collins/Loveland.

Perry's aware of the inherent humor in the business's name.

"I still can't say it with a straight face. It's a lot of fun," Perry said, with a chuckle.

"We just delivered a couple of chickens to a family with a couple of girls. They were literally waiting on the front porch. They were just so elated," he said. "Seeing the look on their faces, I would do it for free."

Emilie Rusch: 303-954-2457, erusch@denverpost.com or twitter.com/emilierusch

Rent-A-chicken

For information on getting a rental brood of your own, contact Jim Perry and Jann Symons at Jann's Henny Penny Farm: 303-870-8689, 303-870-7243; hennypennyfarm@gmail.com or rent-a-chicken.net