An article in the New York Times calls the rapid growth of backyard chicken coops a “chicken boomlet,” fueled by self-reliant people spooked by the recession; advocates of healthy, locally grown food; and parents who see chickens as teaching tools and entertainment for children. The article, “Keeping their eggs in their backyard nest,” by William Neuman, explains that “Commercial hatcheries, which typically ship baby chicks around the country by airmail, say they are having one of their best years.” In the first six months of 2009, for example, the U.S. Postal Service shipped 1.2 million pounds of packages containing chicks (mostly chickens but also baby ducks and turkeys), a 7 percent increase from a comparable period in 2008. The trend continues to grow, as thousands of residential ranchers exchange information on raising chickens.
A client requested Juli Woods, president of The Right Angle Marine, Greenville, S.C., to design, fabricate and install panels to insulate and reduce drafts in two chicken coops. Chickens needed access during their active hours and protection at night; the client needed a lightweight, rugged and easy-to-clean solution that could be stored when not in use. Woods selected Herculite Riviera Marine Fabric®, provided by Herculite Inc., Emigsville, Pa., because the engineered vinyl featured controlled stretch to ease fabrication, environmentally friendly coatings that provide mildew and UV resistance, and ruggedness tested in harsh marine environments.
The Right Angle Marine developed a custom-fit system of vinyl panels with DOT® snaps from Scovill Fasteners, Clarksville, Ga., that covered all the requirements. Dacron® polyester sail tape added structure to the edges and reinforcement for the fasteners. The panels snap open to allow access, snap shut after the chickens are in for the night. The top cover above the nesting boxes snaps open (for egg collection and cleaning) and snaps shut after the day is done. During warmer months, the panels fold up into a small space. Installing and taking down the panels is so easy that, “All can be performed single-handedly if necessary,” says Woods. Considering the emergence of backyard chicken coops from coast to coast, The Right Angle Marine may have found an emerging market that isn’t just chickenfeed.