Friday, August 29, 2014

What's in a Name? (The Hoop Coop, a light how-to)

I am unreasonably particular about names. I say unreasonable because of how much time I waste thinking about it, for one, and also because if the name for something doesn't fit properly the situation will be a major distraction until I've resolved the problem.  As you may imagine calling the new coop structure the "Broiler Boat" then filling it with hens and turkeys instead has been driving me crazy.

Now, I think of it as a Hoop Coop, which is no unique idea according to google so it may not be as exciting, but I feel quite a bit better about it.

Today, I'm going to run through some parts, measurements and steps for you in case you want to try out this structure yourself. (continued)

Frame and structure.
The simplicity, the support, and really all the other dimensions are determined by the cattle panels. There are other panels which might have slightly different dimensions, so you'll want to be sure you have the 50" x 16' panels, or adjust some of your measurements accordingly.

I used reclaimed lumber, but new 2x4's will work well also. The "short sides" are where the arch touches down.

Materials (minimums)

  • 12 pcs 2x4 10'
  • Box of 3+" screws
  • 2 pcs 50"x16' Cattle (or similar) panels
  • Pair of hinges
  • Door latch/closure
  • Twine, ribbon, or zip ties
  • 12 x 16 tarp (10 x 16 would be ideal, and of course poly plastic would work also)
  • Chicken wire
"Outside" on the left
"Inside" on the right.
With 4 pieces of 2x4 10' the base frame is easy to build. 2 pieces, cut to 104" (8' 4") will serve for the short sides, and the remaining 10 footers will do the long sides. You will want to be sure to butt the corners the correct way (they call it a butt joint, actually, see the example image). The "long side" 10' pieces will be aligned as the outside of the joint with your short side pieces inside the joint. Fasten with screws (I had 3" drywall screws already on hand, I would not recommend shorter).

With all 4 butt joints lined up and fastened the panels can be brought over and once set into the frame will form the arch and support themselves.  The panels can be fastened to the frame with heavy fencing staples if desired.  I used drywall screws (x4) to give the panels a place to rest on, and then drove screws above the first wire of the panels so they could not lift out.  The fencing staples will be faster and easier, but the screws are cheaper and you will already have them on hand.  If this explanation isn't clear, let me know in comments and I'll get some pictures of the assembly.

Using these dimensions the top of the arch will be just over 5 feet off the ground depending on your lumber and how high up the board you fastened the panel.  I decided the door should be 36" so I measured and marked the center, measured 18" off of the center in both directions and marked where the door frame would be installed.  I then measured up from the frame markings to where they would meet the arch.  Be sure to factor in the added height of the door header board before you cut the frame.  This door frame will account for another 1.5 2x4x10' and mirroring it for support on the back doubles it.  That's 4 2x4's for the base, 6 for the frames/supports and 1 for the ridge.

You can see the cross brace behind the chickens here.
After the supports are installed, and the ridge 2x4 is in place (just screw right up through the support headers) I used some strapping to tie the panels to the ridge.  There will be several inches between them by design (this would compress under snow load) and I felt the strapping would help prevent any unwanted swaying in the arch when there is no load on it.  At this point there will be a few leftover pieces of 2x4.  Use these, cut to angle and with length appropriate to fit through the gaps in the panel to reinforce the corners of the base frame.

For chickens the ends still need to be covered.  A roll of chicken wire, hardware cloth, or even old fencing will do.  Zip tie, or tie off to the edges of the arch, staple into the frame supports.  For baby birds (like mine) a single row along the sides will prevent anyone from sneaking out under the tarp/roofing.  Make sure you don't cover the door by mistake, only the back will be 100% covered at this point.  Cover the area on each side of the door frame with your chicken wire then measure, cut, and butt joint your door. Hang the hinges and the door (I let mine swing in to open)  hang the door closure of your choice (I went with a Barrel Bolt but even a rope tie would do) and then install the chicken wire on the door.

The tarp is easy.  The 16' cattle panels make a 16' arch which means a 16' tarp will cover it perfectly. We used a 12x16 and let the excess hang off the back. We'll pull the tarp off and use it for something else later probably so we haven't cut it, but you could if it was a more permanent solution for you. After lining up the tarp more zip ties or twine will secure it to the structure and it's time to bring the birds in.

You're done when the birds are in and happy.  It's too heavy to move by pushing on the ground but will move easily when 2" PVC pipe (rollers) are placed beneath the frame.  You can see in some of the pictures where I have stuck the rollers just above the door so I can't lose them.  Mrs. Farmer and I usually do this as a 2 person job but it is possible, if a little slower, to move the hoop coop solo.

The same approach can be used with a clear skin (and no chicken wire) to build a quick greenhouse, or the design can be adjusted with only minor alterations for other animals or small livestock. There is a good chance this winter will see hens and rabbits in one and a greenhouse in the other.  If better explanation or additional pictures are needed let me know in comments.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. I love how the cross brace doubles as a perch!!! I need one of these.