This last article in the series about building hoop houses for pastured poultry discusses the finishing touches to complete the project. You may have noticed in the photos that the front and back of the hoop house frame are about 5 inches off the ground. There are a few reasons why. For one reason, it’s easier to pull the house if the front and back of the frame aren’t digging into the ground. For another reason, if a chicken gets caught under the back of the frame as you’re pulling, that 5 inch gap is just enough space that the chicken can roll under the house and come out the back side without injury. And the third reason, the frame just seems easier to build and more sturdy that way. However, in order to prevent the chickens from believing that they can come and go through that gap whenever they please, we added a skirt made of old cut up inner tube that we got for free from the local tire store. Note that the gap under the front and back and the fact that there is no floor in this house means that it is not predator-proof. If predators are a problem in your area, you should run an electric fence wire around the house near the bottom.
Spray paint on the wooden parts will help keep them from weathering. We added an eye bolt through the skid on each side at the front to tie a pulling rope to. We also added a handle and latch to the outside of the door, and another latch on the inside of the door (so when I’m in there gathering eggs, I can keep the chickens in). We folded some more pieces of inner tube over the wooden frame parts that stick out on the back side of the hoop house and stapled them on. These pieces of inner tube act as padding around the sharp edges of the boards so they don’t rip holes in the tarp as easily. Then we covered the house with a 12X16 tarp. The silver kind works best at resisting deterioration from sunlight. We put the front edge of the tarp even with the front of the house, leaving the front side of the house uncovered. The back edge of the tarp wraps around and partially covers the back of the house, making it look somewhat like a Conestoga wagon. The tarp is fastened to the house with zip ties.
The hoop house is now complete. If you’re going to keep laying hens in it, you will want to add a roost and some nest boxes inside. We found that the feeder and waterer can either hang from the ceiling, or can be placed on the triangular corner gussets and secured with bungee cords. That way they will move along with the house as you pull it. Two adults can pull the house without too much trouble, but you could also loop the rope around a garden tractor hitch.
If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I recently purchased 6 Rouen ducklings. They are quickly outgrowing the plastic bin we’ve been brooding them in, so this weekend we built them a little hoop house of their own, in a style similar to the chicken house. We made the duck house 4 ft by 4 ft, and used welded wire fencing instead of cattle panels. The ducks are starting to get pinfeathers, so they should have enough feathers to move out of the barn soon.
Happy chickens and ducks!!