February 13, 2019

Chickens for rent in CT

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Joe and Ida DeFrancesco of Wallingford with two of their hens.

A company that rents chickens to customers so they can enjoy fresh eggs and make feathered friends is expanding into Connecticut.

Rent the Chicken, first established in Pennsylvania, is partnering with Wallingford farmers and married couple Joe and Ida DeFrancesco to provide the service here.

"We are really 'egg-cited' to see how our first season goes, and our chickens are looking forward to their vacations away from the farm," Ida DeFrancesco said.

Jenn Tompkins of Freeport, Pennsylvania, Rent the Chicken co-founder, said the business has affiliates around the country and in Canada. Since it began in 2013, it has grown to include more than 40 farmers who have decided to add this service.

"We expand organically, rather than trying to find farmers," Tompkins said.

Ida DeFrancesco said she and her husband first learned about Rent the Chicken on the radio, and they immediately reached out to the company.

"We are really passionate about chickens," she said. "We have been farming in Connecticut for generations and we regularly have workshops about chickens."

Aside from getting eggs, renters can enjoy the chickens as pets, too.

The DeFrancescos' Wallingford farm, known as Farmer Joe's Gardens, LLC, is currently accepting reservations and deposits for delivery of the hens in April. They will deliver for free to most of Connecticut, and anywhere within 50 miles of Wallingford. For longer distances, a delivery fee applies. The couple has about 100 hens for rent.

"We are pairing them up before they go out – to make sure they get along well," Ida DeFrancesco said.

She said the birds all have unique personalities, with some that are shy and like to be held and others that follow people around.

"We give them names, though renters are free to choose their own names for the birds," she said. "We want to help folks have a connection to where their food comes from and be excited about the farm-to-table movement. It is so much fun to have chickens, and not a lot of stress."

Renters can keep their chickens throughout the warm months and into the fall. If people ultimately decide after the chickens arrive that they prefer not to have them, the DeFrancescos will come and pick them up earlier. If renters fall in love with their chickens, they can adopt them.

The family's farm also includes greenhouses, vegetables, annuals and goats. They run their business full-time, and have a farm stand.

A standard chicken rental package costs $450 and includes delivery, set up and pickup of contents; two egg-laying hens; a chicken coop; custom dish, 100 pounds of feed, a care guide and book. Phone and web chat support is also available.

More expensive packages include additional hens and food, and fancier housing for the chickens.

Visit the website http://www.rentthechicken.com/p/connecticut.html for more information.

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at msullo@NewHavenBiz.com

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