A Classy Model-Egg Chicken Coop (Coupe)

This small chicken coop was fashioned from recycled materials to be both a practical poultry pen and a whimsical replica of a Model A coupe.
By Thomas Schmidt
August/September 2011
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This snappy Model A coupe makes a cozy and classy chicken coop. 

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For the backyard farmer, the answer to the age-old question is “neither.” Before the chicken or the egg must come the coop. Or in this case, the coupe. With a love for wordplay and a garage full of scraps from old remodeling projects, you might say that I was driven to this egg-streme.

My idea to build a small chicken coop was hatched a year ago when I began to brood over the fowl housing market and became determined that I could build something on my own. My first thought was to use a vintage car body, but I discovered that such shells were out of my price range. Then it occurred to me that an old Model A, essentially a box on wheels, could be simulated with plywood — except for the curvy fenders. I pecked away at Craigslist for a few weeks, and turned up a worn but serviceable set of fenders from a ’29 Ford for only $50.

For a chassis, I recycled an old single-axle 4-by-8-foot trailer. Covering the frame with 1-inch steel wire made an easy-to-clean floor and droppings pit. I found the tires by scratching around in a junkyard. The hubcaps are simple painted plywood rounds, for which I must credit my wife, who gamely fried an egg so I could get the yolk-to-white proportion just right.

I can access the three nesting boxes under the “dashboard” by opening either the side door or the hood. The coupe backs up to a 12-by-12-foot pen, which is roofed and wired to a foot below ground to discourage predators.

The few whimsical front-end details I added provided finishing touches to the coupe. The headlights are burned-out floodlight bulbs inside work-light reflectors; and the colorful hood ornament came from a thrift shop. Finally, I found a website that allowed me to design my own license plate for $15.

One final suggestion to egg on those plucky enough to emulate my coupe: While this vehicle is stationary, a handy person could build one atop a lightweight wagon equipped with a moveable front axle. If you hook up the front end to a garden tractor and attach a lightweight, wheeled pen to the back, you can allow your chickens to graze in different locations. Why, they could even cross the road.

Thomas Schmidt
Grants Pass, Oregon

If you, too, have built a cool coop, send us a photo and we’ll consider it for publication. Please send to Letters@MotherEarthNews.com; or write to Coop Photos; MOTHER EARTH NEWS; 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. — MOTHER

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