New Hampshire Couple Converts School Bus Into Mobile Chicken Coop

One New Hampshire farm is giving an old bus a new life — as a chicken coop! While any other farm might be worried about the way the old barn marred their scenic vista, Brenda Barthelemy, owner of the Brookvale Pines Farm, sees it as a clever resolution to a daily problem.

Barthelemy and her husband Scott came up with the idea of converting the old bus into a chicken coop in order to reduce the amount of time — and energy — expended moving her chicken coop around the various areas of the farm in order to better fertilize the fields.

The idea? Turning an old bus into a chicken coop and driving them from plot to plot.

The mobility of the chicken coop has long been a priority of the Barthelemy’s, who use the chickens to improve their field’s fertilization. As the chickens kick and scratch around the cow manure, looking for their food, they actually improve the quality of the soil.

“It’s a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Let the animals do the work,” Scott said to Union Leader.

For these farmers, the chickens are key to their farming, but moving 300 chickens around every morning has proved to be a difficult challenge, until now.

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While the couple first purchased the bus in 2012, it’s only within the last few weeks that they have been able to fully repurpose the vehicle. In addition to making sure the vehicle was off-road ready, there was a great deal needed to be done to make space for the chickens themselves.

All of the seats have been removed from the bus and replaced with rows of nesting boxes. Each nest needs to be at least 12×12 for the chicken to lay her eggs, so often boxes are stacked vertically as well as horizontally.

An added benefit of the mobile coop is the number of curious visitors to the farm, which is an important component of Brookvale Pines’s financial success.

“They see the chickens all around so they must think something is up,” Scott said, while his wife added, “They’re all getting a chuckle out of it.”
One passerby, Dorothy Nash-Webber, thought it was an abandoned truck at first, but once she heard the backstory, she was on board, telling NECN, “I think it’s really cool, awesome, raising free range chickens organically. We need more of that.”

There is no doubt that free range chicken has become a popular commodity among eco-friendly consumers. In fact, a new wave of green shoppers is encouraging industries as diverse as meat producers and fashion houses to go sustainable. Today, three in four millenials are willing to pay more money for more sustainable products, while 61% of consumers say they would be interested in a clothing sustainability rating system. While sustainability, eco-friendly everything, and free range meats are trending right not, sustainability isn’t the only thing on Ms. Barthelemy’s mind.

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“I love, love, love this place,” Barthelemy said about her farm. “My goal is to make it enjoyable and profitable [so the] next generation wants to do it.”

 

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