Pandemic Poultry


Photographer: Sophia Stafford

Chickaletta pictured in coop built by Mr. Wayne Agan.

By Sophia Stafford, Staff Writer

When many locally-owned businesses were devastated by the pandemic and forced to shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was one business that saw their sales boom: the chicken keeping industry.

Spring is usually the time of year when hardware and feed-and-seed stores start to ship in baby chickens because it is when chick-loving customers start searching for more hens to add to their flock. In addition, around Easter, many parents buy baby chickens for their children’s baskets. All this to say, while the spring season caused the usual spike in sales, the sales during the pandemic rose even higher still.

This was the case for Wayne Agan, owner of Wayne’s Customs Coops in Temple, Ga. Agan got into the business of building chicken coops after his wife posted pictures of the one he built for his children’s chickens on social media. “The post just exploded,” Agan explained. “It was like everyone wanted one, so we thought, maybe I should start a business.” Agan started building coops for friends, but soon he’d built a thousand of them, and demand is still going strong. After 11 years, they’ve built almost 1200 coops in backyards across Georgia.

Unlike many other businesses, COVID-19 hasn’t really affected Agan’s. “We haven’t really been able to get around the homeowners too much. I mean, when we go out and deliver, they’ll come out and tell us where they want it.” Other than that, they haven’t had to adjust too many protocols because there is not a lot of necessary contact between the builders and homeowners. 

The biggest change was in the sales. “People are wanting to, I guess, live off the land, just in case [the pandemic] just keeps going,” Agan said. “They want to be able to have fresh eggs. We built a goat shed, and stuff like that, so they’ll have goats and pigs and everything else.” He notes that people want to be able to go out and get fresh eggs without having to go to the store every two days.

In a time of uncertainty, people are looking for more certain sources for food to support themselves in the case of another lockdown. Individuals are looking to chickens for eggs and to goats for milk, and they are moving from grocery stores to backyards, beginning a new cycle of sufficiency. Backyard chicken keeping is just one example of people achieving self-sufficiency and self-reliance from their own backyards.