Horse Trailer to Chicken Coop Conversion

By Bulldogma · Mar 2, 2013 · Updated Jul 15, 2013 ·
  1. Bulldogma

    Chicken math was kicking in and I needed a bigger coop... but with financial challenges paired with the fact that we are renting a farm that is currently on the market (meaning we could be asked to move at any time) we didn't want to spend a heap of money on something that we either couldn't move or would have to pay someone to move. So when tax refund time came around, I found this gem on Craig's List!!


    Wasn't it beeyoutifullll????? Yeah baby! That's a bona fide 1978 Hart horse trailer! The inside wasn't quite as pretty as the outside, but a creative gal with a lot of imagination can see beyond the little things... like massive rust-through areas and a roof that leaked like a sieve in the gentlest of rains.

    What drew me to this particular trailer was all the doors and compartments. More on that later.


    Needless to say, I got it for a steal. It really wasn't in good enough shape to put horses into, but heck - chickens weigh a lot less than horses! Of course my family, friends (and landlords) all thought I had finally lost my last marble. The landlords were especially queasy with this awful-looking old piece of garbage parked on their beautiful property. (I call that "renter's insurance!") But seriously - we really like our landlords and we respect their desire to keep the property looking nice!

    When people tell me I can't do something, it makes me want to prove that I can. Such was the case with the folks that told me I'd be nuts to try to restore and paint a fairly large trailer by myself... but since I'm already quite aware that I'm a few sandwiches short of a picnic, I went right out and bought paint! I chose Rustoleum for obvious reasons.

    But... I'm afraid it got worse before it got better.

    I started by scraping and sanding rusty areas, ripping out the parts that I wouldn't need (with the help of my husband and 18-year-old son) and calking every last seam and hole.

    Lovely... no?

    Initially I thought about going with a barnyard red to match the stable and storage barns on the property, but unfortunately my local hardware store only sold that color by the quart... and I was going to need a little more than a quart! There was "Safety Red" which translates into "Fire Engine Red" but I didn't think it would be polite to adorn this beautiful farm with something that more than slightly resembled an emergency vehicle... though it crossed my mind that I could pick up a red, flashing light somewhere and have a little fun with passer-bys.

    The only Rustoleum colors sold by the gallon were white (which wouldn't really blend into the surroundings), black (which had the potential of becoming so hot in the summer time my chickens would be laying hard-boiled eggs), gray (bleh) or hunter green.

    I went with the hunter green... and fought the urge to buy bright yellow as an accent color... (you can see were I'm going with this... )

    Giggling under my husband's hairy eyeball, I took my hand away from the bright yellow and grabbed "Almond" instead. A lighter color on the roof should help keep the coop cooler in the summer.

    Yes - it was a big project inside and out, but I'm almost finished and it has been well worth it! I just put my chicks in the chick area, and I have a bantam cochin with an injured hip in one of the isolation cages... but I guess I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.

    Was I able to paint the entire trailer myself? Why yes, I was!


    I felt the original color of the aluminum trim created too much of a contrast.


    It was flashy, and while I'm all about flashy, the coop is supposed to be subtle and blend into the surroundings. (Otherwise you know I would have gone with fire engine red and flashing lights!) So I found this cool Rustoleum hammered metal spray paint which really helped to subdue the trim. Not only that, but since the trailer is so old, it has a lot of... um... character? (By that I mean really pocked, puckered and dented areas.) The hammered metal paint just made it look like it was supposed to be all beaten up like that.


    So let me give you a brief "before and after" tour.

    The front "dressing room" used to have some lovely red carpet perfumed with eau de cat toilette, and the paint apparently had fowl pox.


    BUT... the area also had a seam that was perfect for putting a shelf on... but not just a shelf!
    The space under the shelf made the perfect "grow-out" pen for chicks! And I can heat this entire

    (Yes - that is my Fermented Feed down to the left!)


    The grow-out pen is 5' wide by 3' deep and has double doors for easy access and cleaning. I covered the entire floor with cheap linoleum I had left over from my last coop project.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (Yes - my shelf is already full... and a mess.)

    The neat thing is that if I find I need more coop space, the whole 5' x 5' area above and around the grow-out pen could be used to house up to 6 large fowl chickens. (I prefer a minimum of 4 sq. ft. per bird of coop space, not including the run.) Of course then I'd have to put all my lovely "stuff" into the storage area... which would be fine, too.


    Right next door to the front part is the storage area:

    (I had my hubby saw out the lovely red pleather saddle rack, but we left the hooks as they might be useful for hanging stuff. The "Before" picture is the left side and the "After picture is the right.)

    The storage area is 2'6" wide x 5' deep x 2'6" high and holds all my feed, bedding, rakes and tons of other necessary "stuff." In fact, my house is starting to look pretty empty now I have all the chicken stuff out in the coop. There are access doors on both sides of the trailer so I can really pack stuff in there without having to dig too much to get something I need.

    Above the storage access doors are access doors to an area where one would have put hay for the horses to eat whilst driving about town. These two areas are now isolation areas for injured (but not contagious) birds or broody hens and their eggs or chicks.


    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 "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!



    There are also sliding windows on both sides which we have covered with hardware cloth. These will also be left open year round for ventilation.

    You can't really see it in any of my photos, but there is also a ceiling vent in the main part of the trailer... I'm big on ventilation!

    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!


    Tomorrow I'll put bedding in, and then it will be done... except for the little matter about fencing in an area to contain my flock... because one of my roosters has been going over to my neighbor's house and serenading her with the song of his people through her kitchen window. She's not as enamored with his song as his hens are.

    I'm looking into electric poultry netting. Since this setup does not have an attached run (yet) I want to wait until the fencing is up before putting the birds in here.

    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 on top of the grow out pen for the incubator chicks! When ever we get a chance to actually do that, I will post updated pictures!

    Video tour of the coop:


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  1. N F C
    Great idea!
  2. TwinsLoveChicks
    Amazing Coop! I Love It! :) :)
  3. ChickenLife
    I loved your video, after having looked at your pictures and of what you did.
    Be proud of your project. Recycle Reused.
  4. Proverb31mama
    Great idea! And I loved the line about a quick means of breaking ones ankle . Your wring is interesting, informative, and funny!
  5. callen0912
    I'm a horse girl, and this blew me away! This is just awesome! This REALLY makes me want to do this! One question though, what did you do about the leaky roof?
  6. artistazalea
    This is probably my favorite coop on this site! So creative and I love that it's portable. :D
  7. RangingChicks
    The coop looks awesome! Great job!
  8. undine
    OMG I LOVE THIS COOP SO MUCH! Im pretty jealous right now lool.. I could bring my chickens with me everywheree when travelingg hahaha ;D good job!
  9. ChickadeeRanch
  10. judyki2004
  11. Mac14
    Oh my goodness! I think I'm in love with the idea! :D
  12. Spifflove
    Great job! We were thinking the same thing but you actually did it! I love the grow-out pens.
  13. JFreeman
    And now I'm looking up old horse trailers on Craigslist. LOL LOVE what you did. :) Kudos
  14. Bens-Hens
    Fantastic write up. I love how you have utilised each area, and you can just wheel it away when you need to.
  15. Whittni
    I like it, the video is good.
  16. CountryGeorge
    Wow. You had to post this. Now it makes me start to think... (the kids will disinherit me)
  17. marktoo
    Great idea! Well done!
  18. GFamily
    A great Idea!
  19. Leahs Mom
    Sheesh....they LOVE you here at BYC.... 2 Coops of the week!!!!!
  20. jchny2000
    This is amazing, I am just completely impressed on what you have done! You have me looking at our pathetic old pop up camper that's been parked for at least 10 years.
  21. Nutcase
    Well done! Very creative. Congrats on Coop POW!!
  22. rojororeo
    Okay... I have horses... and I now have chickens.. so I can appreciate this one! This is by far one of the coolest and most creative coops I have ever seen! And you can tow it around if you want- go in the town parade with the chickies! I am quite jealous!!
  23. chickenluver555
    wow! great idea. I lovveee it
  24. chickwhispers
    Very ingenious! I love the portability!
  25. earlybird10842
    Wow. That was a great project!
  26. BirdbyGavin1103
    Looks awesome!!! The fact that it is mobile, if need be, is a great idea for renters. Could make a great show/auction/swap transport too!
  27. cluckcluckluke
    WOW, what a great conversion!!!
    Top Job.
  28. FrogEggs
  29. Teena Marie
    Very nice and creative!
  30. KayTee
    Fantastic - I love it!
  31. cluck cluck 123
    I love your coop!
  32. ChickensAreSweet
    Wow it looks great and I love the Hunter Green!
  33. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your pics for the Chicken Coop - Picture of the Week. Thanks for posting your coop design & pictures to our "Chicken Coops" pages! You can find more info about the CC-POW here: CC-POW Process
  34. spook
    I must say Leigh, my bf & I watched your video over coffee this morning, how wonderful and enlightening your conversion is. Its pretty cool that if we had your type of chicken coop we wouldn't need to hire pet sitters when we traveled!!! Thank you for posting your video. I give you an A+ So cool!
  35. miquwid
    those are probably one of my favorite conversions!
  36. Penny Hen
    I need to find a sweet deal on a trailer.
  37. Mtn Laurel
    Love it! Great repurposing of a horse trailer. Good job!
  38. AdirondackChick
    What a great transformation! Wonderful work! This is a very smart thing you did! I am sure your chicks are very happy there!
  39. bbsnooks
    very nice...
  40. EHook518
    I love what you did. My mom has an old two horse trailer that I have vowed to turn into a coop, you have given me some great ideas.
  41. The Old Yolks
    Really awesome! Love up-cycling!
  42. celticgarden
    I agree, great job :)
  43. coolcanoechic
    Great job! Love the naration.
  44. Bulldogma
    Wisher1000 - Lets just say that I was able to buy this old horse trailer for barter (some old furniture we had in storage) and less $$ than the cheapest used flatbed trailer to be found on Craig's List! Much of the wood is recycled too, and the hardware cloth was left over from another coop project. I spent about $100 on paint and supplies. We aren't that handy when it comes to building stuff, and never would have been able to pull off building a 12' long x 5' wide x 7' tall structure with so many nooks and crannies ourselves. No - this was well worth the little money I spent and the tons of time I invested! :D
  45. Stumpy
    This is my kind of make-over! Great job.
  46. CrosStitching
    I love seeing a gal's ingenuity! My husband has come to cringe whenever I say, "Hey honey you know what I could do with that..." and rightly so because some of my projects are total flops.
    But You have nailed this thing! Way to go! The movable aspect of the coop is great and there's tons of space in there. Wouldn't that be a fun thing to roll up in at chicken shows and swap meets. Great Idea! Can't wait to see the finished product.
  47. ChemicalchiCkns
    Valuable cycen Coop
  48. Wisher1000
    I would really like to know how much you have put into that. I think it is awesome, REALLY awesome, but fear you could have built it cheaper (on a trailer.)
  49. Brookliner
    Sooper. What a great make over. BYC should have a TV CABLE program "Coop Crashers". Your project would be perfect. It is great recycleing.

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