Entrepreneurs hatch hen-rental idea for fans of fresh eggs

Want farm-fresh eggs without the commitment of owning chickens? Try renting them.

Poultry leases are a growing business for companies nationwide as people seek to live more sustainably through local food sources. Rentals allow customers to get eggs from humanely raised hens without the commitment of ownership.

Companies like Pennsylvania-based Rent The Chicken offer packages that include hens, a coop, supplies and support with any questions or problems.

Seasonal rentals generally cost a few hundred dollars and last about six months, though shorter and cheaper deals are available.

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The concept has become popular in urban, suburban and rural locations.

Participation in the online community BackyardChickens.com has exploded in recent years — from 50 members in 2007 to more than 325,000 today.

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