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portable / moveable animal pens

 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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I thought that I would share what we have done for movable pens for some of our livestock: This is a photo of the pen for our hogs. the task that the hogs have is to plow up some more sod for an extension of the garden, space for berry and grape vines and a garden area closer to the house for herbs and greens. We bought three 16' long livestock panels for $26.99 each. One was cut in half, and I welded some short pieces of pipe to the ends of the panels so that a piece of rebar acts a post to secure the corners and mid points. This gives us a 8' x 16' pen that can be moved easily by one person.

It takes the snout-o-tillers a couple of days to root up the space, then it is moved. They look forward to the moves and the fresh grass to graze and till.

We still have some turkeys left to grow before the snow falls. They are now about 20 pounds if butchered, but I want to hold out until Christmas and when the freezer has more space, we still have grass and the snows have only lasted a day or two. If you are thinking that one pen looks like a Joel Salatin style pen, you are right. It is a little smaller 8' x 10' and it had chicken broilers in it this summer before the turkeys. I move them each morning and the birds are thrilled to have the fresh grass. If you look at the ground in front of the pens you can see the area that they had the day before. Each morning when I move the pens the birds gorge themselves on fresh grasss before taking interest in the feeder. The smaller hoop style pen is a smaller pen that I have for when the turkeys are small and I still have broilers in the larger pen. Once the broilers are gone I split the turkeys into this pen too to give them more space.

This is our little chicken tractor. We only raise at the most a dozen layers, which is plenty for the two of us. If you go by the figures in most books this should hold 30 layers, but..... the structure is built on a 4x8' sheet of OSB and the nest boxes hang out the back of the tractor. Of the pens we have this was the first one built and the one I would do differently. It works well enough that I have not deemed it worth the effort to make changes. Once the snow covers the ground I will move it into the barn for the winter and the chickens will have a space to scratch inside. I use a piece of field fencing as a run that leans up against the door to the chicken tractor. We used to let the layers free range, but we had problems with them ranging too far. So they get about an 8' diameter space inside of the fencing. I put a tarp over part of it to keep them out of the rain this time of the year and to give them some shade in the summer. they too get moved each morning.

The steers are kept behind portable electric fence and moved ever other day. For cheap electric fence posts I have found that I can buy 3/8" rebar in 20' lengths for $5 a length. this gives me 5 post 4' long at a dollar each. plastic insulator are a few bucks for a bag of 25. I have made a bunch of insulated fence handles out of 1/2" pvc pipe cut a foot long. I drill a couple of holes in each one foot length of pipe and use some heavier wire threaded through it as a hook. I figure that I can make insulated handles for about a quarter a piece.

I thought I would share some of the things that are working for us and see if anyone has some suggestions.
Thanks, Kent
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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How do you keep the hogs from picking up the side of the pen with their snout and vacating the property?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Cool! And now the questions start...
Do you need a couple of people to move the pens?
I asume they're moved so that the stock's 'shuffled over' inside the pen?
About how long did it take to train the different animals to the system?
The pigs are young? Do you plan to keep up the same sort of sytem till they're slaughtered (assuming that's the plan )
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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With all the critters we have had over the years hogs are right up there with goats for escaping. So far we have not had an escape from the hog pen. In each corner and the mid point of the long sides I have some 4" pieces of pipe welded to the ends of the panels, sort of like a hinge. Through these pipe pieces I drive a piece of rebar that has its top bent into a tight 90. Once the rebar is driven in the panels are hard to lift. To move the pen, I lift the rebar out of the ground but still in the hinge part of the panels. In this condition the pen can be dragged around by see sawing the sides from rectange to diamond shape. I can do this by myself, but I wish the house I made was lighter, next time the house will have 2 whells under it. The turkey / chicken pens are light enough that the salatin style pen I keep an old hand truck out there and I can lift one edge of the pen and drag it around. On the mornings that I move all the pens, and do an electric fence change for the calves along with feeding everyone it will take an hour at the most. One of the things that I like about Salatin is to keep things simple and cheap. We have a neighbor who is doing Salatin's style of broilers, hogs and beef and is finding a market for all he grows which is encouraging to see. We only grow enough for ourselves and some family,
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Hi Kent, I'm interested in what you would do differently regarding the chicken house on the trailer. I've been thinking about building one on one of those garden/utility carts.
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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the chicken house is not built on a trailer, but I bought a couple of cheap replacement wheels at tractor supply. Part of the issues I have was that I built it fast and cheap and should have spent more time on it. Since I do metal working in my shop I would have built a steel frame rather than a wood frame even though it would have cost a little more. I doing a steel frame I would have made the end where they would come off so that I could clean the inside easier. I had to redo the supports under the OSB that is the base because the origanal was made from 1x4 and it sagged, I end up letting the layer run for an afternoon and used 2x4s to support the floor better. I would use a bigger tarp for a cover since the one I used does not quite cover the hoop part and it lets rain in.
kent
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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