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Venturing into Rent-a-Coop Business

Tyler Phillips and Diana Samata build chicken coops and rent them.

Tyler Phillips and Diana Samata build chicken coops and rent them.

— Tyler Phillips and Diana Samata have found a way to bring the feel of the country to the urban environs of Potomac, Bethesda and other D.C. suburbs. They build chicken coops and rent them. The package includes two egg laying hens, a chicken coop, a 50 lb. bag of organic feed, a bale of straw and water, feed bowls — and even a basket for collecting eggs.

Their customers are parents who want their children to experience the joy of collecting fresh warm eggs and cuddling live chickens — or people who personally want to enjoy some of the pleasures of rural life.

Phillips first began building chicken coops to sell because the ones he purchased for his own hens were either very expensive ($600 - $2000) or they weren’t well built. He created his own designs and began selling them on Craig’s List. But his mom, Jill Phillips, who owns Squeals on Wheels with her husband John, suggested he rent the chicken coops with a couple of chickens for people who wanted their children to have a short-term experience — or who were afraid to commit to the responsibility of ownership.

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Tyler Phillips with one of his chickens

Now, Phillips and his girlfriend Diana Samata design, build, paint and deliver the coops — and they have been overwhelmed by the response to their business venture. Since the construction of their first coop two months ago, they have rented 30 coops. It takes the twosome 8 hours to build and paint a coop which is 6 and a half feet long, 38 inches high and wide. The coop fits into a minivan and comes with two Golden Comet laying chickens which lay an egg every day. It rents for $140 for the first month and $105 thereafter. Should the renter decide to own the chickens and coop, half of the rental fees can be applied to the purchase of the coop.

“I started with an A-frame, but that would not fit into a minivan,” said Phillips. “It also did not provide enough sunlight for the chickens. I observed the chickens to see what they liked. The coops have been a work in progress, and we keep making changes to them. In fact, we just added a new ventilator system. Our coops are 100 percent predator-safe, as long as they are locked at night.”

According to Phillips, the chickens will not go more than 20 feet from the coop during the day. At night, they are anxious to head back to their safe haven.

What are the responsibilities of chicken care? According to their website, the hens must be given food and water once a day and the coop should be moved and cleaned out at least once a week. In order to lay healthy eggs, chickens require sunlight, protein and calcium in their diet. The chickens must be let out of the coop for several hours each day when someone can keep an eye on them so predators such as foxes, raccoons and hawks don’t get them. A healthy chicken will live 5 - 8 years.

Samata explained that they just switched to organic food for the chickens. “There are no roosters, and chickens are very quiet. Owning chickens is a wonderful educational experience for children. Kids love to pet them, carry them around, and gather the eggs. They don’t bite and have no smell as long as they are kept clean.”

The philosophy of Samata and Phillips is: “We believe that animals bring out the best in everyone. The amount of love and knowledge that one gains from the interaction with animals is immeasurable. Raising a pet is an exciting and educational experience that teaches children of all ages about compassion and responsibility. The Rent-a-Coop experience allows children to feed, clean and care for two sweet chickens while learning about animal life cycles, experiencing where food comes from and most of all having fun.”

For information or to rent a coop, go to www.RentACoop.com or call Phillips at 301-765-0270. He can also be contacted through e-mail him at tyler@rentacoop.com.