Chick rental program hopes to teach all ages about sustainable living
AYR -- An Ayr farm is renting out kits for people who want to raise their own chicks.
Yvan and Sarah Rodrigues of Rodrigues Farm run the “Chick-Lets Hatchling Rental Program.”
“They're not too messy and they're not too smelly, but you're going to want to change the litter about once a week,” Yvan said.
The kits include a wooden brooder coop handmade by Yvan, a heat lamp, feed, bedding and bowls for both water and food, as well as two already hatched baby chickens.
“Two baby chicks that were hatched just in the last day or two. No more than 3 days old,” Sarah added.
“We also include some educational materials about how baby chicks are hatched and born and how they grow and live.”
Sarah believes the program can play an important role in education as well.
“We're essentially bringing the farm into your home and your family can learn all about how eggs turn into chickens and how chickens live on the farm, and I think that is really important especially as we move towards a more sustainable way of living," she said.
Six-year-old Kieren Patel and his dad, Ronak Patel, have previously visited Rodrigues Farm, but since visits are temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, they decided to bring a chick raising kit home.
Kieren says he is both excited and nervous to welcome the furry friends into this home in the coming weeks.
Ronak says it’s a way for the family to stay busy when other activities and summer camps will be limited.
“This is going to be a first hands-on experience for all of us," he said.
Ronak said their dog is the closest thing to a wild animal the family has ever had in the house.
Rented chicks stay with their foster families for six to eight weeks, which is just enough time for them to grow into their wooden coops.
“It’s really amazing actually how quickly they go from the size of one of these eggs to sort of a teenage size chicken,” Yvan said.
Once returned to the farm, the chicks will continue to grow and be kept inside a fenced area until they are big enough to no longer be pray for other animals.
Once they reach a reasonable and safe size, they will join the rest of the free range chickens on the Rodrigues farm.
Sarah says all hens are kept in order to lay more eggs and they plan to keep as many roosters as possible.
“If we do end up with too many roosters, because that can be sort of dangerous for the other chickens, then those roosters will be relocated to other farms,” Sarah said.
The agricultural couple says they started the program because they couldn’t find a similar one in the area.
Once it was announced on their website, kits started selling out quickly and so extra dates were added. Sarah added it’s not only families with young children who are renting the young birds, some are simply “animal lovers” and she notes another renter is a teacher who hopes to virtually share the experience with students.