If you really want to be an urban hipster, you have to have chickens. But they're kind of a hassle -- how do you build a chicken coop? And keep them warm in the winter? And what exactly do chickens eat? The Easy Chicken can help you out.
Seth and Maria Jansen wanted a more rural life, but both of their families live in St. Louis. How could they infuse their cosmopolitan lifestyle with a little bit of country? Enter the Easy Chicken: a backyard chicken service that provides the chickens, a coop and feed for you to either rent or purchase.
"We had gotten chickens already in our back yard, and we just fell in love with them. We knew a lot of people wanted to do it, and there was something holding them back," Maria Jansen tells Gut Check. "[Either] they didn't know enough or didn't have the confidence or they didn't know if they wanted to do it. It's a good way to let them figure that out without putting chickens out there in harm's way."
The basic package is $150 per month and gets you two chickens that are guaranteed to lay eggs during the normal laying season, a coop, an eco-feeder and all the feed you'll need. There's also a support hotline if you have any problems or are concerned about your chickens. If your chicken doesn't lay eggs, the Easy Chicken will swap it for a different one. Jensen says stress can cause the chickens to stop laying eggs -- moving is obviously stressful, and some chickens handle it better than others.
The full package to purchase chickens costs $850, but if you've been renting, you can apply half of what you've paid toward the total. It's a little bit of a try-before-you-buy deal. Jensen says this keeps people from buying chickens, deciding they don't want them, and then neglecting or abandoning them.
The Easy Chicken launched this spring, and has been getting the word out at several farmers' markets across the city. Next season, Jansen says, they hope to work with more schools, day cares and nursing homes.
They also want to introduce a program where you can hatch your own chicks and raise them into chickens, which Jansen says is better for the chickens and makes them more docile around you. Chickens can also be used in the non-laying season in your garden; they fertilize and till the soil, plus they eat the bugs.
Here's one of the Jansen boys making it easy:
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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