Want to try raising chickens? Athens business offers monthly rentals

A boy examines a chicken and a movable chicken coop. (CREDIT: Elder Tree Farm)

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A boy examines a chicken and a movable chicken coop. (CREDIT: Elder Tree Farm)

Would-be urban farmers who’ve considered raising chickens in their backyard but don’t know how to start are getting some help from an Athens area business.

Elder Tree Farm Backyard Chicken Rental is offering to provide a “basic” four-week backyard chicken rental package for $160, owner Matt Farfour said.

The deal includes two hens, a chicken “tractor” — which is a predator-proof movable coop — a watering container, a feeder, and a 40-pound bag of feed. There’s free delivery within 20 miles.

“Do you want chickens but are not sure how to start or what you need?” Elder Tree Farm’s website asks. “Are you curious about what it would be like to have chickens and want to try before you buy? Do you want chickens just for a short time, or a season?”

“This gives people who are interested an opportunity to try it out before making a big commitment,” said Farfour who, by day, works as a research engineer at UGA.

Farfour says he is not a chicken expert but that he is comfortable around animals and has a degree in agricultural education.

Backyard chickens can be spotted in urban and suburban areas around metro Atlanta. Rules and restrictions on raising them vary by locality.

Farfour started raising chickens last year on his farm in Jackson County and saw opportunity when an ordinance allowing backyard chicken raising was passed in May in neighboring Athens-Clarke County.

He just made his first delivery this week.

Advocates say backyard chickens provide both health and economic benefits.

Farfour said that for him, “The biggest thing is the connection back to where our food comes from. It’s not how I can make money. I’m seeing other people who want to try it, and I’m trying to help people do that.”