How to Build a Cattle/Livestock Panel Hoop

5 panel hoop
Raising much of our food has long been the goal of our humble homestead. Unfortunately, I dislike all the work involved with canning & freezing the season’s bounty. Maybe you are like me. Then I read Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman and learned of a better way. A way that we could extend the growing season & eat fresh food. A way that would cut down on the amount of food preservation chores. I knew we had to incorporate, into our small farm, the tunnel idea presented in the book. Because this was an experiment, it had to be done on the cheap. My husband built this hoop from which we harvested salad greens all winter long.

This how-to is for a smaller version of the hoop pictured above but can easily be modified to make it longer.

Hoop house using 2 panels

This is an inexpensive 9′ wide x 8’8″ long unheated greenhouse structure that can be used to start seedlings or for season extension. It is 6′ high in the middle. It is sitting on the side frame from a longer model. There was also an inside support on the long hoop to handle snow load. Snow should be swept off the top and sides. Supplies
*  2 livestock panels
*  4 10′ pressure treated 2x4s
*  6 mil clear polyethylene sheeting
*  1 1/4 fence staples
*  2 10′ 2x4s
*  8 8′ 2x4s
*  4 pieces of rebar 2′ long
*  drill
*  staple gun
*  staples with 3/8″ legs
*  saw
*  screws
*  tie wire
Please read all steps before beginning.
Select the site where you want the hoop to stand. It’s easier to build it in place than it is to pull it to a different location.

1. The first step is building the box frame for the hoop, beginning with the bottom side rails. Cut two of the pressure treated 2x4s to 8’5″. Using fence staples secure the 52″ wide end of one of the panels to one of the rails. Be certain the panel extends 1 1/2″ past the end of the rail. Line the second livestock panel up beside the first and repeat the process with this one. Once again, be sure that 1 1/2″ of the panel extends past the end of the rail. Attach the opposite ends of the panels to the second side rail in the same manner. The reason for the 1 1/2″ extensions on each end is explained in Step 5.
The side rails in the picture are longer so the hoop can be added onto in late summer and planted with salad greens. That will extend the salad harvest through February. Add an inside roof support on longer structures to handle snow load.

2. Pound 2 pieces of rebar into the ground next to one of the rails. Pound them in about 1′ deep and about 7′ apart. Make sure they are will grounded, as you will be pushing the hoop up against them. It is now time to bow the panels to form the hoop. Go to the other side of the hoop (opposite the side with the rebar stakes). Push the rail along the ground in toward the middle. This is easier done with two people. The panels will begin to form a arch. Have the other 2 pieces of rebar and the hammer ready. Stop pushing when the hoop is 9′ wide at the bottom. Pound in the other 2 pieces of rebar to hold the hoop in place. If the ground is very uneven, you may have to pull the hoop up as shown in the picture. Do not try doing that alone.

3. It is now time to attach the ends. Cut the other 2 pressure treated 2x4s to 9′ each. Enter the hoop and screw them on each end to tie the side rails together. The bottom frame is now complete and forms a square.
4. The long sides of the panels now need to be wired together where they meet, for stability. Make sure the ends of the tie wires hang down on the inside of the hoop or they will poke holes in the plastic skin.

5. The ends will now have to be framed. A door in each end is handy for easy access and for cross ventilation to keep the hoop from getting to hot and killing the plants. There are no specific instructions because each end needs to be custom framed to match the arch of the hoop. Use 2x4s to make a sturdy frame that will not rack. The reason the ends of the panels extend past the rails is accommodate the width of the 2×4 frame so it will fit snugly underneath the panels. The photos show one good way to frame the ends.
6. Here are some general instructions for framing the ends. Starting at the bottom, cut a 2×4 to fit just inside the frame. Cut 2 pieces that will serve as the sides of the doorframe. They should be cut to fit from the bottom piece to just inside the arch. How wide apart these are will depend on how wide you are making the door. Cut a piece long enough to fit in between these two pieces at the top. If you do this correctly, your hoop will not need the basketball goal-looking piece that is shown in the picture. Add a vertical support on each side of the door as shown in the picture. Cut and add the top pieces to tie it all together. The door will be framed to fit in between the two middle supports. Do your best to make the door opening square. Do not make the door too tight a fit because it will swell in damp weather and be hard to open and close.

7. Cover the ends and doors with plastic and staple in place. Cover the hoop with plastic and allow a few inches to extend past the arched ends. This should be easy if the plastic is from a 10′ wide roll. Staple it along the end frame. Repeat on the other end. Staple both sides down to the side rails. Add hooks to the outside of the door frames so the doors can be securely fastened shut. It is a good idea to further secure the plastic on the sides with nylon rope.
Do not attempt to push the hoop up from underneath, as pictured, unless you have several people helping.
This gave us a good start & proved to us that it was possible to harvest tasty greens in the dead of winter in Northern Michigan. I see an upgrade in the future as finances allow.
Growers Supply New Items 3

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How to Build a Cattle/Livestock Panel Hoop — 2 Comments

  1. What a great tutorial! This is something we really need to try too. I do fine with root crops during the winter, but miss my greens.

  2. This looks a lot like the chicken tractors we made to move around our field in the spring, summer and fall. Sadly though, they are too big too fit through our garden gate because I would so use them for greenhouses like this through the winter. I keep telling hubby we need to build at least one more of them in the garden and leave it there. The chickens could even till it up for us in the spring, then move them out and plant the garden 🙂