Cattle Panel Chicken Coop

The chickens were in two flocks in two different places and caring for both flocks separately was an inefficient use of time and resources. The Buckeye hens were using the little barn in the backyard for shelter while having the run of the place. A few had adopted the practice of hanging around on the back porch, and we didn’t care for the “decorating” they were doing. The Buckeye rooster was out in the garden with the White Rocks. He is a good rooster and guards his charges well which makes for some unhappy encounters with our dogs.

After reading Andy Lee’s book Chicken Tractor The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens & Healthy Soil and Day Range Poultry Every Chicken Owner’s Guide to Grazing Gardens and Improving Pastures, we were ready to take action. The plan was to move them to a section of the sheep pasture where they could work their magic on the grass. It was astounding how much improved our lawn was after running meat birds over it one summer. We needed to devise a quick and easy shelter that would be inexpensive and fairly easy to move. It would, of course, involve cattle panels.

Material List
(2) 16′ cattle panels
(1) 16′ x 20′ tarp
(8) pieces of rebar
baling twine
wool
tires

The first panel was bent into an arch and rebar was pounded into the ground up against the panel. We used 2 pieces on each side. The next panel was lined up and the process repeated. Using twine we lashed the panels together where they joined. We also tied the panels to the rebar. The wool was used to wrap around all the rough edges that would rub against the tarp. The tops of the rebar were also wrapped. We tied the wool in place with more twine.

It took three of us to put the tarp on because the wind was whipping up a storm. The handy grommets on the tarp allowed us to secure it to the panel structure with yet more hay string. We left the south facing side mostly open so the birds can enter and exit. On the north side, the tarp is pulled all the way down. The extra fabric on the sides and back is weighted down with tires.

Portable, electric poultry netting protects the birds from predators. More on the trials and tribulations of e-net in another post.

Tarp at back of hoop is weighted with tires

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How to Dry Wet Fleeces on a Cattle Panel Hoop

 

We had an extended wet spell the week the sheep shearer was due to make his circuit. I thought I put the sheep in the barn in plenty of time for their fleeces to be dry before he came. Some sheep were damp and a couple were quite wet. There was no place to spread the fleeces to dry so they had to be bagged up. Fortunately, the next day was bright, sunny and still. The fleeces couldn’t be laid on the ground because it was still saturated. As I looked around for a suitable spot to spread them out, my eyes fell on the little hoop house. It would provide the perfect surface to dry that wet wool, off the ground and with air circulating on both sides of the fleece. The two-panel hoop was able to hold four fleeces on the hoop itself and one each on the end doors. They were dry by the end of the day.
You don’t have to have a hoop already built for this to work. An arch can be made by pounding rebar in the ground and the livestock panel pushed against it until it forms an arch. More rebar in pounded in to hold it in place. Two people working together make this a quick and easy task.

How do you dry wet wool?

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Update on the Cattle Panel Hoop House

The hoop pictured is the one that will house our laying hens this winter. Tarps will be used for the skin instead of builder’s plastic. We noticed that there is more condensation on the inside of the hoop when clear plastic is used. That is good for plants but not for chickens. Even with tarps, there will still be days that it drips inside the hoop. We can open the doors on both ends to provide ventilation. I would love to have louvered vents in the tops of the doors that could be opened and closed. Maybe next year.
One year we had a four or five panel hoop that housed 25 chickens. We used deep litter on the floors. Each day I’d scatter some corn on the floor and the chickens would get busy scratching for it. That kept the bedding turned and aerated so there was no ammonia buildup. New bedding was added as needed. The combination of the decomposing bedding and the right number of birds kept their drinking water from freezing unless we had sustained below zero weather.

Hoops to House Chickens or Salad Greens

We use these arched structures for different purposes. They are relatively easy for two people to build. My husband could put them together by himself. One year we used a long one to keep salad greens and thyme alive from November until February. The leaf lettuce stopped actively growing in November and resumed growing at the end of February. The months in between the greens were still alive and able to be harvested. Kind of like extended … Continue reading