Moe’s Mobile Coops help FFA student gain valuable work experience
When Morayah Cupp envisioned starting up a mobile chicken coop business a year ago, she never imagined the amount of interest her business would get amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Moe’s Mobile Coops is a way families can connect with agriculture by renting a poultry set-up.
For a flat monthly rate, Cupp provides her customers with everything they need to start up a small backyard poultry farm. The rental kit includes a coop on wheels that can be pulled around the yard for fertilizer or cleaning services, four to six high production hens that are fully grown and laying eggs, chicken feed, a feeder and waterer, bedding and some treats. “Everything you need to last the duration of your rental time is included in the rental kit,” Cupp said.
The rental period is typically from March to November, but customers don’t have to rent that many months. “The reason I have a seasonal rental period is that the chickens are in small numbers, and with the size of the coop, it would not give them enough coverage to keep them warm enough during the winter. The chickens all have identification hock tags, so if a customer wants the same ones next year, I can do that,” she said.
Cupp, who lives near the small town of Champion, Neb., came up with the idea after her mother took a trip to Nashville for a family member’s wedding. “She stopped at a small business women’s convention along the way,” Cupp said. “At that convention, there were some women doing a similar type of business. My mom took some notes. We talked about it when she got home, and I decided this is what I want to do.”
Moe’s Mobile Coops is Cupp’s Supervised Agricultural Experience project at the Chase County FFA in Imperial, Neb., where she is currently a junior. “I had been thinking about what I could do for my SAE since before I was a freshman. I wanted to get a jump on it, and I knew I wanted to do something with poultry,” she said.
Cupp has shown chickens, ducks, and at one time, geese, at her county fair since the age of 6, when she was a clover kid. “My interest in poultry began about five years ago. We had enlarged our flock, and we added probably 50 hens. After that, we had anywhere from 90 to 100 hens at one time. We were gathering eggs and selling them to people. I wanted to stray away from the egg selling business, branch off and do something different in our community,” Cupp said.
She started advertising her mobile coop business in the spring of 2019. “Last year, I rented out two coops. This year, my business has really taken off. I am hoping by the end of the rental season in November to have nine or 10 coops rented out,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred interest in the business because people are concerned about their health. “The demand is actually high right now because everyone is at home, and they don’t want to get out and risk their health to get eggs. People can rent a mobile coop, collect their own eggs and stay at home,” she said.
Cupp is also proud her business adds something to the counties surrounding the town of Champion. “Everyone is beginning to realize how important it is to support our local businesses. We live in a town of 2,000 people. We are slowly expanding a little, and the people in our community are realizing how important their support of our local businesses is. It is what keeps our town alive, when businesses in the bigger cities are closing their doors,” she said.
Although some of her customers are located near Champion, Cupp travels a 90-mile radius from home with her mobile coops. “I have one coop in Sterling, Colo., and that is 82.4 miles away. I have advertised a lot on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and sent out letters to area FFA and 4-H chapters. I try to be as social as possible. Word of mouth has also helped me find new customers,” she said.
Moe’s Mobile Coops is just one more step forward in her SAE, which she considers one of the most important parts of the FFA program. “FFA pushes personal growth, career success and premier leadership,” Cupp said. “The extracurricular activities offered through the program are a big part of having the confidence and leadership to talk to people and create a business that will blossom and help you create your own pathway.”
As the business continues to grow, Cupp hopes it will still be successful when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and remain successful, even when she is in college. “One thing I like about my business is providing families the opportunity to connect with agriculture, and give children more responsibility. Chickens are pretty low maintenance. The families only have four to six hens, so it is not like a commercial flock where there could be health concerns. Some of the families are really interested and want to learn more about chickens, so this provides them a way to rent first before they buy,” she said.
For more information, see her Facebook page or Instagram at Moe’s Mobile Coops. ❖
— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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