Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Horse Trailer to Chicken Coop Transformation - Part II


So if you recall from my last post, I had the crazy idea to buy and up-cycle an ancient, rusty horse trailer into a chicken coop... with only the help of my husband and rather unwilling teenage son. 


My husband is 6'3" and was great for sanding the ceiling inside the rusty trailer and cutting out large hunks of iron meant for the containment of horses and their tack. I stand at exactly 5'0" (that's 15hh in horse-talk) so I was thankful for his assistance in these areas! 
The Hubbs also helped me with much of the woodwork stuff for the grow-out pen and isolation pens. And while he and I make a great team (perhaps vaguely reminiscent of Mutt and Jeff), he would probably tell you that little 'ol Leigh did the bulk of the design planning, sanding, scraping, taping, caulking, painting, grunting, moaning and groaning. (It'll be some time before my back forgives me for abusing it so! LOL)
And just this past weekend my 18-year-old son exclaimed, "Geez, Mom! Look at your hands! You have manly construction worker hands! Really little manly construction hands!"
Thanks, sweetie! You are one of the reasons some animals eat their young... And just for that I'm posting this photo of mid-paint I told you I deleted. Love you!:
So anyway... 
The very back (the part that used to be able to hold 2 horses) is 5' x 6'8". There are "escape doors" on either side originally installed so one could lead a horse in and then both duck and climb to "escape" out the little side portal, and then fall off the running board just below and break one's ankle right before the "big show." These ankle-breaking windows are perfect for warm weather ventilation!



We installed hardware cloth-covered "screen doors." They will allow a good cross-breeze to come through, but prevent raccoons and the like from floating in on the breeze and feasting upon our flock.  We thought about just covering the area with hardware cloth and doing without opening screen doors, but one just never knows when one might need a quick means of breaking ones ankle! So we put the screen doors on hinges and put raccoon-proof locks on the inside of the trailer... so that any raccoons that successfully chew their way through the steel sides of the trailer and gain entry will not be able to open these doors and fall and break their ankles.




I mentioned in the original post that I am a stickler for ventilation - especially because I plan to house my birds in a giant metal box. Virginia does not get as hot as Texas, but it does get pretty darn warm in the summers.
In the next picture you can just make out the ceiling vent in the main part of the trailer. I am hoping all this ventilation paired with a light-colored roof will help keep this coop cool when it gets hot outside.
To keep costs down, we used branches from a fallen tree as perches.


And what do you think about our fancy-shmancy nest boxes?? Our man's trash... is a nest box unit, baybeeeeee!




The bottom and middle rows have mini perches to make it easier for the birds to get in and out. I wish these perches could have been a bit larger, but the unit is made of cheap particle board and something heavy would just tear out. I'll probably use the top shelves to store a bit of scratch and the like. (You can never have too much storage!)

Later I'll put bedding in, and then it will be done...
And while I say "done" I use the term lightly... because now we're thinking that the front room works so well staying warm even on the coldest nights, we'll build a brooder for the incubator chicks on top of the grow out pen! When ever we get a chance to actually do that, I will post updated pictures!

Here is a video "tour" of the coop. I forgot to show the storage area... bummer. But you'll get the idea from the rest:

 
    


- Leigh 

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Comments

22 comments:

  1. I love this Leigh!! I'm so jealous. I'm working on converting a travel trailer, but I think this is so much cuter sitting in the yard when one has horse property. You did a fantastic job!!

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    1. In the end, it doesn't matter what you use as long as it works for you. :-) Please share your travel trailer conversion when it is done! I'm sure we'd all love to see it!

      Leigh

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  2. I love this idea and especially how save the girls are from weather and preditors .really inventive idea!!

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    1. Thank you! And yes - the safety factor was another big draw for using a steel horse trailer. I think this idea would work great for those in cooler climates, or if someone had a large shade tree to park it under. We have neither of those things really, but were very lucky to find a trailer with so many openings for ventilation. That was the key for me. Air, air and more air!

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  3. Wow! Great work, what a fantastic coop!
    I like the revenge photo, lol! x

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    1. Thanks! And since my son doesn't read my "silly chicken blog," he has no idea!

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  4. looks wonderful, and so safe! congrats on a wonderful result.
    lala

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  5. Whoops - tried to comment earlier.

    This really is inspirational for me to keep looking for a trailer. I know I said it before, but I love the idea that it's mobile.

    When does the flock get to move in? And which ones get to use the hoop now that the trailer is ready?

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    1. I'll move my Swedish Flower Hen flock in as soon as we have some electric poultry netting up to contain them. Currently my SFHs are in my little blue (dollhouse) coop. The Dark Cornish are in my hoop coop, and will stay there. My Silkies and Bantam Cochins are in a converted rabbit hutch. When the SFH move to the trailer, the bantam flock will move to the blue coop. The old rabbit hutch will be decommissioned.

      (Did you catch all that? LOL!)
      Leigh

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    2. Yep..got it! Someone asked about your hoop over on BYC...I couldn't find the photos of it so maybe you could post them over there again!

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  6. Great job BDM,,,,,,,you are so clever and do great work !!!!


    (P.S. it was me that was looking for your hoop coop pics. Esp the inside. Trying to see how you attached the nesting boxes, perches, etc :) )

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    1. Thank you!

      LOL - our hooop coop is very "rustic!" The natural tree branches are hung through zip ties that have been strung through the wire of the hoop part. The nesting boxes are just cheap 18 Qt Rubbermaid containers with holes cut in them that sit on the ground (for now). Very simple and rustic... and cheap!

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  7. Looks great. I like how it fills so many needs of a flock in a consise area.
    What do you think this cost you, just ballpark?

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    1. Less than $1,000 total... but I still have some left-over materials I could return for a refund. :D We'll probably hang on to them though, because we've just decided we might add a baby brooder on top of the grow-out pen.

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  8. Really nice job on the interior! Those nesting boxes caught my eye right away. Very nice. It also helped to see how you attached the tree branch roosts. My DH has ours screwed directly into the wall and they keep breaking loose. It's almost become a game watching them roost to see how many can fit before the whole thing comes down. ( kinda like the old kids game "Don't break the ice." )

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    1. LOL!!! Those brackets are available in the roofing section of the home improvement store - they are made to hang 4"x4"s, but work great for 2"x4"s or branches with a 4" diameter. This particular trailer had wood for kick boards in the horse compartment which made it easy to hang the lower perch with these brackets. The rest of the things hung on the trailer itself had to be screwed into the steel. Interestingly, the top roost is simply mounted on the steel framework in the trailer. We cut it to size and then my hubby wedged it in... it's not screwed in, but it's not going anywhere!
      Leigh

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  9. I keep coming back to this post and looking at it over and over - and also looking at the video. I'm hooked on this idea! And love that it can be easily moved around. Kudos again!

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  10. I may have missed it in there somewhere - but what is the overall length of this trailer? And - is it a particular brand or model?

    I also love all the doors, windows, etc. and I know they don't all have those.

    How did you find it?

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    1. LM - I believe the enclosed part of my 1978 Hart trailer is 15'-16'. It is a 2-horse bumper-pull trailer with a tack room. Good luck on your trailer hunt - hope you find the perfect one!
      Leigh

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  11. How did you attach the hardware cloth to the trailer?

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