The employees at Bright Coop Inc. have a saying – “If you eat chicken, we probably helped put it on your plate.” It’s a fairly true statement since the 60-year-old company has manufactured and distributed poultry handling equipment across the world. In fact, since the company is a leading innovator in the business, it not only helps the chicken get to consumer’s plates, but it gets it there faster and more efficient, as well.
Bright Coop was founded in 1951 by brothers N.G. and Charles Bright as a wood chair manufacturing business. It quickly moved into making chicken coops after receiving requests from local poultry growers needing to transport chickens. Its early success rang in a new focus of custom engineered wooden chicken coops.
Every decade since, it seems Bright Coop has developed one innovation or another for the live poultry industry. In the 1960s the brothers responded to turkey farmers by developing turkey coops that were permanently attached to trailers. Loading of the turkeys was made easier by the development of the Bright Turkey Harvester that conveyed them from the house floor to inside the coops – a system still in popular use today.
The year 1976 marked the entry of the cage unloading system designed by Charles Bright and colleagues. The cages are stacked on trailers and transported from the growing house to the processing plant. The Bright Cage Unloading System provides automated unloading of birds that are then conveyed into the plant for processing. “In the beginning, coops were the only thing poultry handling equipment manufacturers like us made,” says Wanda Russell, human resources manager at Bright Coop. “But when the cage unloading system came out, that’s when we became the number one provider for the ‘live side’ of the poultry industry. It just changed the whole industry and took everything from a manual process where workers unloaded chickens by hand and brought it into an automated system. It resulted in more productivity, less injuries for people and better quality of birds.” Like the turkey harvester, this product is still used in the industry today and is the preferred system throughout the United States, Mexico, Australia,
Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
Russell says these Bright Coop customers depend on the company to consistently evolve its repertoire. The company still offers galvanized metal poultry cages and its pioneered loading and unloading systems, but also manufactures trailers and forklifts designed specifically for handling poultry coops and cages. These offerings make Bright Coop a single source for handling equipment needed for harvesting, transporting and delivery of live poultry. The company has every major step covered, and Russell says Bright Coop continues to stay on top of industry needs.
“We re-evaluate our products daily,” says Russell, a Bright Coop employee for 24 years. “You don’t know what’s going to change again in this industry, so we’re trying to stay ahead and provide what our customers need. We have an engineering and research and development department, and we have our sales professionals who go out in the field and to the plants and listen to what customers are asking for.”
In 2002, the company answered another industry need with a product 37 years in the making- the E-Z Catch Harvester. Instead of hand-catching each chicken, an automated machine is remotely controlled and maneuvered through the chicken house and sweeps chickens onto an enclosed conveyer belt and directly into an empty cage. The process relieves stress for the chickens and the workers.
The E-Z Catch has yet to approach its 10-year anniversary, but Bright Coop is already into evolving with another industry change. Currently in North America, chickens and turkeys alike are predominately stunned with electricity prior to being slaughtered. However, concerns for animal welfare and meat quality are leading the industry in a new direction of gas stunning in lieu of the traditional method of electrical stunning. This concept is being designed into the Bright Coop systems that are already in use, which allows customers to use existing equipment and avoid capital equipment replacement costs. Bright Coop already has partnered with experts in the gas stunning field and have built turkey cages that are in use today. According to the company, reports back from these customers that are using the gas stunning method in turkeys have said that significant labor savings and higher yields as well as better meat quality are some of the benefits. Bright Coop expects the chicken industry to pursue these benefits also.
Bright Coop continues to work diligently on new ideas and concepts that will improve the way live poultry is handled. Bright Coop is the poultry man’s one-stop shop where one will find excellence, honesty, quality, service and good people since 1951.