by Rebecca Nickols
As this series of awe-inspiring chicken coops continues, I'm continually amazed at how creative, resourceful and imaginative some chicken keepers are when it comes to constructing their coop. It reminds me of how one person might look at an abandoned house and see only its pitfalls; while another person views the same neglected structure from a different perspective--they see potential! It's one thing to have a vision of the end-product, but it's those industrious, motivated folks that actually follow through and get the job done that I admire!
This month's chicken keeper is a wonderful example of how with a little imagination and some self-driven enthusiasm anything is possible!
The story of this unique coop begins with Marge Freeman's retirement... She had wanted backyard chickens for some time and now that she had more time to care for a flock, she began planning their housing arrangements. She knew of one feature in a coop that had to be included; she wanted it to be mobile. Marge states, "I started showing pics to my hubby, Andy, on buildings and campers to convert into a chicken house (since I wanted a mobile style). This was actually a constant hint... He told me to "buy a new one," since he didn't want an old camper or anything that looked like "junk" on our property."
It took Marge several advertising requests through (free) local Internet and radio sites until she finally found the trailer she had envisioned! Continue reading as Marge shares how a horse trailer that had been abandoned in a cow pasture for over 5 years became the home of her happy colorful flock!
The left over plywood from the new floor piece was used as an additional base below the nesting boxes in the upper nose of the trailer."
Base cost was $450.00 with about $120.00 more for new parts (Plexiglas, screws, plywood and pressed wood for boxes). Though the new parts were a little pricey, we could have spent about $40.00 less by shopping around and requesting damaged Plexiglas and odd pieces of wood. Also, 1 and 2 axle trailers can be at a premium price, but will last many years. This trailer was made in 1971 (now 41 years old), but with a little maintenance it will last a long time. For the price, we were looking at long term use and security for the chickens and goats. I estimated the project would take 1-2 days, but it turned out to be about 40 hours of total work!"
Marge's Top 10 Features of a Horse Trailer Coop:
1. Two back doors for ease of cleaning out waste (shovel or fork) and comfortable "walk-in" room.
3. Depending on the weather I may only leave the side door and front window open or just the back door since they seem to like their privacy and quiet when they go to lay eggs.
4. Another special feature is the tack door where we keep extra food stored--it stays dry and secured.
5. Chickens roost in the middle and their dropping fall on the floor only in that general area. The roosting bars can be moved down or up to waist high and easily removed with two pins if needed.
6. Security: Almost 100% metal (except the Plexiglas and some galvanized wire)--critters can't get in! We put up dog kenneling wire around the back side in case we have to leave home for several hours, they have access to the back door and we close the side door and front window.
7. Can be easily moved; hooked to the trailer hitch with the tractor or pickup.
8. Can go through side door or back doors to gather eggs.
9. The coop currently houses 8 chickens (7 hens, 1 rooster), but can easily accommodate 20 chickens. There will also be enough room for our two pygmy goats in the winter (they all get along very well).
10. Since everything is secured inside, we could pack up the chickens and pull it down the road to my sister’s house if we decide to leave town.
Before Marge began the trailer-to-coop transformation, she searched the Internet for examples of any other converted horse trailer coops and found none. However, Marge had a vision--and the help of a willing husband! She states, "I asked my husband if he understood my vision when we first started, he said, "Not really," but as I told him more and more of what I wanted he said the "light bulb" finally came on!"
Thanks Marge for sharing your coop with the readers of Community Chickens! By following through with your vision and original concept of re-purposing, I'm sure that you'll inspire more trailer-coops to begin popping up across the country! And thanks to your detailed instructions, photos and advice, future DIYers will have your coop as a wonderful example of what it takes to make the ultimate recycled chicken trailer!
Click on the link below for previous entries in the "Cool Coops!" series...
Do you have a "Cool Coop" you'd like to share? Email me at: RNickols@communitychickens.com
To view what else is happening at our Southwest Missouri property visit: the garden-roof coop