by Rebecca Nickols
This month’s “Cool Coop” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your day!
The on-going theme of this series of unique, creative and inspiring coops is–recycling, re-purposing, reusing… I think that everyone would agree that a reclaimed school bus chicken coop is about as cool as it gets! I love the idea of a bus that once transported children to and from school is now sheltering, housing and protecting a large flock of happy chickens!
“We live on a farm outside of Raleigh, NC, “Ozbert Farms,” where we sell poultry and waterfowl for backyard flocks (i.e.: baby chicks and ducklings, hens, roosters, drakes, ducks, etc.). We keep our flock in pasture-pens at the farm but decided to free-range our chickens for many reasons. Among those reasons included high quality of life, ample exercise, natural vegetation, even healthier eggs, less stress, lots of bugs and most importantly their chicken-happiness!”
“So we began our quest for a portable coop. We looked at stock trailers, old campers, wagons, you name it. Then we came across a tip that the state of North Carolina sold retired school buses from its fleet. What a find! The county where we purchased the bus from had a number of buses for sale and all were in working order. The garage workers painted a black strip across both sides of the bus, removed the numbers and lettering, we gave them an official check for the bus, and off to the farm the bus went! We removed all of the seats from the bus and put them on craigslist for $10 each. They all sold! That helped us pay for the materials we didn’t have to start the remodel. For example, we purchased metal conduit from Lowes to create the supports that hold the roosting bars on each side of the bus. A saw, measuring tap, metal screws, a vice grip, and a lot of patience is all we needed to create those uniformly throughout the bus. We attached plastic netting to the outside of the windows so that the windows could be open and provide ventilation without worrying that the chickens would fly out.”
“The back window at the bottom of the emergency door in the rear was removed and replaced with a hinged hatch to protect the flock at night. An old ladder was converted into a ramp leading up to the hatch for entry.
The bus is routinely moved around the farm at night after all of the chickens are inside. We have lighting inside and a spot outside the bus at the back door/hatch. We supplement a very light ration of feed every morning and afternoon for their diet. The chickens lay inside the bus in any one of the three tiered nesting boxes. The chickens are given complete free range and return to the bus at night. No fencing, no guard dogs, only the security of a few loud roosters, the comfort of the space underneath the bus or inside the bus is all they are given to protect them from predators in flight or on the ground. Thankfully we have only lost a handful since we started this year and our bus comfortably seats 90 chickens!”
Thanks Rob for sharing your creative coop with Community Chickens! Your school bus coop is actually its own chicken community; with plenty of room to socialize, free-range, raise of family… I think your “Cluck Bus” meets all your lucky flock’s needs–especially their “chicken happiness!”