Build a Chicken Coop Out of an Old Camper Top

Your old camper top can easily be converted into housing for chickens, young goats, dogs or other small homestead critters.

| December/January 1992

Two unrelated dilemmas led me to invent my versatile camper-top cabin. First, I had just traded in my truck and was stuck with the old camper shell. I kept it because it wouldn't have added a dime to my truck's trade-in value, but unfortunately it didn't fit my new truck. There was no chance of selling it, either—countless abandoned camper tops gathering weeds along roadsides told me that lots of folks were in the same boat

My second dilemma was finding affordable housing for my spring chicks, goslings, and goat kids. Young animals are very susceptible to disease, so it's essential to have housing that can be periodically moved. But just one fiberglass or plastic calf-hutch costs around $300, and I needed at least three.

One day I hit on the idea of making a portable house using the old camper top as a ready-made roof with windows. I added plywood walls so I could get inside without crawling on my hands and knees. The cabin looked super, even though it was made from recycled parts that would otherwise have been an eyesore. The cabin can easily be knocked down for moving and, with slight modification, can be turned into a dog house or neat child's playhouse.

In my area, you can find a used shell for $25. Plywood and hardware bring the total to about $90. A portable calf-hutch of similar size costs two or three times that. So what are you waiting for? Round up your carpentry tools and get started on your own camper-top cabin.

What You Need to Build Your Chicken Coop

The Bill of Materials in the article's Image Gallery shows what I needed for my camper shell. If your shell is larger, you may need longer 2 x 4s. The two plywood sheets, cut in half lengthwise, are enough for a shell of any size.

I recommend pressure-treated lumber because it resists insect damage. I also recommend getting 2 x 4s one size (two feet) longer than you need. The quality of lumber being what it is today, you will probably need a little leeway to cut out bad spots.

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