11 November, 2013
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
More and more Americans are showing an interest in organic and locally-produced food, as the interest increases, raising chickens has been gaining popularity in some American cities. Poultry farming may not be right for everyone, but the business seems to have a bright future.
"Look, we get three eggs this time."
Collecting eggs is a daily pleasure for the Hurst family. Naomi Hurst says her family started to raise chickens in back of their home in Maryland a month ago.
"We have been wanting to try having backyard chickens for a couple of years now. And really just didn't have the time to build my own coop and look out where to buy chickens. And then we stumbled upon Rent a Coop," said Naomi Hurst.
Rent a Coop is a chicken rental business. Tyler Phillips launched the company with a partner 18 months ago .
"It comes with a mobile coop on wheels, two egg laying hens, feed, bedding, water bowl, feeding bowl, and our 24-hour chicken hotline. You can call with any questions. The price is 185 [dollars] for four weeks," said Phillips.
After the four weeks are passed, individual can extend the rental agreement, return everything, or purchase the animals and supplies.
"We average about 12 to 15 chicken coop rentals per month. And since last year we've sold about 75 chicken coops with hens, so we've sold about 200 hens," said Phillips.
Tyler Phillips designs and makes the coops, buildings with birds are kept. He says he wants to do as little damage as possible to the environment.
"We always try to have as many recycled materials as possible. And I want the coops to be safe for kids, number one. I want the chickens to be comfortable and they have access to the grass while being inside the coop. I want it to be easily movable, light weight," he said.
Mr Phillips says the chicken coop rental business came from his love of animals. He grew up on his parents' farm near Washington suburbs.
The Hursts hope their farm teaches their daughter to be caring and responsible.
"I don't think we've ever thanked where food comes from. But whenever we pick up the eggs we always say, 'thank you, ladies.' That's really something that it is hard to teach other than having an animal in your backyard that delivers food to you. So it's been a great learning opportunity for my daughter too," said Naomi Hurst.
Some Cities require people have large pieces of land, if they want to raise farm animals. Others require an agreement with neighbors, limit the number of chickens, or, even ban the birds.
Tyler Phillips expects that would change as interest in small poultry coops grows.
"I see cities around the D.C. area changing laws almost monthly and different cities will change the law to being pro-chicken. That is happening all around the United States," he said.
He believes that there will be chicken rental businesses in most American cities within five years.
And that's the Agriculture Report from VOA Learning English. You can download transcripts and MP3s of all of our programs at our website, 51voa.com. You can also find captioned videos at the VOA Learning English channel on YouTube. I'm Bob Doughty.