Guelph-area farm will rent you backyard chickens

If you like the idea of keeping chickens in your backyard, but aren't sure you're ready to fully commit, a farm southeast of Guelph will rent them to you.

Belbeck Family Farm in Moffat, Ont., near Milton, is making their Rent The Chicken business available to Kitchener residents now that the city's bylaw allows backyard chickens.

The farm already offers chicken rentals across southern Ontario with free delivery within 80 kilometres of Moffat, which covers Hamilton, Mississauga and much of Toronto.

Kate Belbeck said it's a great way to try it before you buy it.

"If you do jump into it and you find out it's not for you when you're renting, you have the option just to chicken out partway through," she said.

The rental comes complete with a coop, feed, treats, a book about how to care for backyard chickens and either two or four hens. Two hens will give you about a dozen eggs a week.

Belbeck said they have very few chickens returned.

"Most people are very, very excited to get their chickens and find that they're really not that difficult to look after," she said.

The majority of those who do return their chickens often have to because they've been reported for not following their municipality's bylaw regarding chickens, she said. 

Chickens 'like any other pet'

The Belbecks also rent out incubators if people just want to watch the eggs hatch, and then they can send them back. This is popular with schools, daycares and long-term care facilities, she said.

Belbeck said the top question they get asked is about how hard it is to care for chickens.

"Chickens are very much like any other pet," she said.

You will need to feed and water them daily, collect the eggs daily and spend some time to clean the coop. Like any other animal, if you don't pick up their waste, it will start to smell.

Otherwise, chickens are quiet and have personalities, Belbeck said.

Rental packages are usually for six months, but Belbeck said people can rent them for winter. Or, if people don't want to have chickens in the winter months, they can request to get the same hens back the following year.