When Tom Jarick stopped at a red light in Manhattan recently, a driver in the next lane noticed the “RentACoop” logo on the side of his SUV, and called out the window to ask him why anyone would want to rent chickens.
“It’s for people who fear commitment!” Mr. Jarick replied.
Yes, schools, senior homes and families around New York City are paying $220 for a hatching experience, which includes two live chicks, an incubator with seven eggs, a heated cage called a brooder and enough feed to last the four weeks before Mr. Jarick retrieves his birds.
Folks interested in grown, egg-laying chickens, meanwhile, can rent hens and a coop at rates ranging from $240 to $480, depending on the rental duration.
The chickens are Golden Comets, a hybrid breed that is friendlier than White Plymouth Rocks or Rhode Island Reds, says Mr. Jarick. They are also good with dogs.
Last month, Mr. Jarick, 69 years old, dropped off two chicks and seven eggs at the Brightview Senior Living community in Warren, N.J. Residents watched as the eggs turned and warmed in the incubator. The live chicks, meanwhile, tripled in size and were baptized by Father Sean, the priest who comes by on Thursdays.
Last week, all seven eggs hatched and the newborns were surrounded by residents.
“The whole building has been looking at these chickens,” said resident Fran O’Brien, peering at the yellow furballs nestled under the heat lamp.
“It’s amazing,” said resident Anna Calatone. “Tuesday, there was a little hole in one egg and you could see it—somebody was in there! Then the egg is gone, and there’s a little chick coming out.”
Ms. Calatone was the only one who tried handling the chicks.
“Did they peck at you when you held them?” asked Ms. O’Brien.
“Did they try to eat you?” asked resident Sonia Witowski.
They decided to follow Ms. Catalone’s lead. Before long, Ms. Witowski’s new bird friend had snuggled against her chest and conked out. “This one fell asleep. How precious,” she murmured.
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Vibrant Living, Resident Perspectives