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Conduit for a chicken run

 
pollinator
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So, I did a search and there is some info about using conduit for a chicken run among other posts. But I would like a thread specifically about the ins and outs of using conduit for a chicken run. Let me preface this by saying that the previous owner of the property left at lot of conduit behind, mostly in the raised bed garden where things were attached everywhere, some is 1/2" some is 3/4", some has corner connectors attached, most does not. I would like to make use of as much as I can.  Most of the info on the web that I've come across treats PVC and conduit like they are the same, which I don't think is the case.
 
gardener
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What's your snow load like? You need to design for that. It's really easy to get fancy side-outlet "T"'s and similar for PVC, but I don't know what the cost/availability of fittings are for conduit. Similarly, attaching wire or walls to conduit will be harder to do with conduit than PVC, from my experience. In your place, I would use it, because you've already got it, but not rush into it. Think about if you want portable or permanent?  What size/sizes would be useful? Do you have enough to make several paddocks to rotate birds through?

I have one summer shelter out of conduit, although its base is PVC to slide easily. It's about 8 ft by 10 ft and it really suffered last Feb from the unusually heavy snow we got. I use it for Momma Muscovy with young, and it's been great for that purpose, but after ~5 years, it needs some TLC this winter. The original owners of the property made some *very* short runs height wise - after all a chicken only needs 2 feet, right? Yeah, and in the rain when you've got a chicken injured in the run, you're crawling through muck to get to it! You don't necessarily need to be able to stand fully upright in the whole run, but do think of needing to clean, spread mulch, shovel mulch out etc, when you choose your height!

Those are my quick thoughts. Consider posting your plans as you think of your parameters, and that will help people to make suggestions that might help.
 
Stacy Witscher
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So, our average winter snow is 7 inches a year, so not much. My plan is to have a secure stationary coop and run, and then add mobile coops to it. I don't want to think that any particular mobile coop is going to be sufficient without a backup plan in place. Predators are more of an issue than weather.
 
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PVC will react with many of the current poly tunnel materials causing failure where the poly tunnel material touches the PVC, that means putting on a new cover every year or every other year.

If you are going to make a "high tunnel" structure or any structure that has a curved top, the conduit will have to be bent to the shape you desire and it will hold that shape from now on.
PVC doesn't do that so well.

Conduit can be spot welded instead of buying lots of connectors (which I am great at loosing) the up side of this is that once you build it and all the welds are done, you have a permanent frame.
The down side is once you have all the welds done, you have a permanent frame and re working means you have to cut those welds first.

Conduit is stronger than PVC, it can be drilled for bolts and the holes will not wear like holes in PVC will.

that's all I can come up right now.
 
pollinator
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By “conduit,” do you all mean metal pipe or the grey plastic electrical pipe that I have often also heard called “conduit”, and which I understand  holds up to UV much better than pvc? Thanks for the clarification, I am mostly self taught with a lot of this stuff and therefore have big gaps regarding shorthand like this.
 
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I'm assuming it's thinwall,that is  EMT conduit.
EMT is really handy,  light , strong, and pretty cheap.

Electrical conduit can be bent with some simple tools.
This makes it easy to build with,  and eliminates  the need for special hoop benders.
A couple of 45 degree bends and a single 90, and you have a classic "house" shape.
Two 90 degree bends and you have something like the top of a loaf of 🍞 bread.


Connectors can be added to the ends of pipe,  allowing the pipe to screw into galvanized or black iron plumbing fittings, but that can add a lot of expense.
Self tapping screws, zipties, and baling wire can make most nbjoints.
I would get some couplings, so you can connect pipes end to end.
There are other ways,  but couplings are worth the cost.


 
Stacy Witscher
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I'm talking about metal pipe conduit.

Unfortunately it was used for trellising and stuff like that in the garden area, so it's too short to bend into a hoop. I will look into couplings.

Thanks everyone for your help.
 
Jay Angler
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Stacy Witscher wrote:

Unfortunately it was used for trellising and stuff like that in the garden area, so it's too short to bend into a hoop.

From my sewing back-ground, the first thing I would do is to sort all the pieces by size - if available, put similar sizes into 20 liter buckets with a label for the size range (or a similar sorting system). This way, when I settled down to design a plan, I would choose parts of the project based on sizes that fit together efficiently.

I did this once when trying to make a hoodie for my son out of left-over warm-wear from sewing coats. I wanted it to look intentional, planned and "professional", so that he could wear it to school. He wore it for 8 years!

I took the same approach with scrap PVC pipe when we needed a "rust-proof" shed over our back well head and pressure tank. I had certain parameters I had to use, such as matching the concrete pad that was already there, and making it so that it could be slid off that pad if work needed to be done on the well. I matched needed pipe lengths with "bell ends" + other scraps and finished the whole frame except for the roof. Sure enough, the year after I built it, the pump died. We simply slid the shed out of the way, my husband put up scaffolding, and raised the pump a 20 ft pipe section at a time. When all was fixed, we slid the shed back in position and bolted it back down (he'd put in some sort of anchors in the concrete). The shed doesn't appeal to hubby as I actually made it a sort of "saltbox" shape with the roof offset to provide some outside cover for electrical outlets etc. He's more into symmetry, whereas I was happy with "unique, practical and efficient use of scraps". That was at least 10 years ago and the frame is still fine although we eventually gave it plywood walls and a metal roof. While doing those upgrades, Hubby whined again about the shape so I told him to make his own shed and I'd use this one by the garden as a mini-potting/garden shed. That changed his tune right quick!
 
William Bronson
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I'm talking about metal pipe conduit.

Unfortunately it was used for trellising and stuff like that in the garden area, so it's too short to bend into a hoop. I will look into couplings.

Thanks everyone for your help.



Maybe use technique borrowed from geodesic dome builders:

https://images.app.goo.gl/PTPaUAeX9XfBwGFf8
 
Stacy Witscher
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Jay - that's a great idea.

William - that might work, but it seems like more work to flatten the ends like that, than buying connectors.
 
Jay Angler
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@ Stacy Witscher - Have you looked at the pictures I posted on this thread?    https://permies.com/t/103213/wouldn
It shows how I  used sheet metal to join metal pipe conduit together on my movable ~8' x 10' shelter that I use for mom's with over 2 week-old ducklings. I don't use it in the winter as it wouldn't give them enough protection from the weather. The sheet metal was scrap I salvaged.
Below my pictures, Cindy Skillman posted pictures of her build which was a combination of metal conduit and wood.
 
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I've used the plastic type conduit to make a half tunnel run alongside a structure. I cut the bottom end off at an angle to make it sharp, wove it through some 4 foot woven wire fence, and stuck it into the ground.
I bowed the top of the conduit over to the structure wall where I had pvc end caps screwed into the wall to receive it.
Top was covered in mesh netting (lots of little zip ties) above fence level. It worked very well and weaving the conduit through the fence provided stability from shifting.
You could do the same concept as a full tunnel but it might need some stakes or posts for stability.  
 
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