We started building a cattle panel greenhouse (based on TexasPrepper's design) which will serve for winter housing for our expanding flock of chickens. I am making a video series about the project (among many others).
This video shows the material sourcing and wood cutting:
In this one, we start putting the pieces together:
Part 2 of the build will be posted soon!
(we had the door swing inward so we can open when there is snow piled up outside)
I built a pretty similar cattle panel design for a chicken tractor, only did two panels and it is basically 81 square feet. I did wire on 2 foot high hardware cloth all along the bottom edge of the whole thing and used chicken wire for the ends in addition. That is for predator protection more than anything else. I leave one end open to the air so they have plenty of fresh air, with the half of the panels covered with the tarp and the rest has 6 mil plastic reinforced with chicken wire to keep out the climbing predators. I did two of the 2x4s across the top on either side of my door openings, although only one has an actual door, for the same reason you did, snow load.
I just moved it around the yard all summer long and the girls did a fine job of eating the grass, bugs and other growies - giving us some awesome eggs. Soon I'll be moving it to our "Zone 1" area to make it easier to feed and water them, also using deep litter for the winter. They'll be going onto the garden this spring to do all the prep work for me.
The magic water and fermented feed really does a great job for their health during that initial move in and then during the season changes as well.
Hi Bill, thanks for the feedback! It's good to hear from someone else that has used this concept for chickens. I put up the hardware cloth around the interior perimeter a couple of days ago, I just haven't posted the video in this thread yet. I'll do that now:
Also, I put up a chick net and attached it to the surrounding electric poultry net so I can let the pullets out and get fresh air. I did the magic water, too, for the immune boost.
Is this coming winter your first winter using the greenhouse? I'm really curious about snow load. Using two 2x4s should be more than sufficient. I probably should have added a second beam.
All those additions should do the trick for you. The condensation is one of the reasons that I left one end "open" and put chicken wire and hardware cloth along it without any covering or tarping. I just make sure it is facing away from the winter winds. Chickens are amazingly heavy breathers, especially in a damp environment.
This will be my first winter with this concept. I have just used a large tractor, with deep bedding and hay bales around three sides for insulation at chicken height, and kept it covered with a tarp and some metal roofing.
Here's a couple pics:
This is without the plastic on it. You can see how I did mine a bit different from yours, although I am thinking about building a second one and using it dual purpose like you did. Greenhouse for early spring, and then using it as a place for pullets to get a start.
Because of the way I was running the tractor through the yard, I didn't do nesting boxes yet. The stinking thing is "fun" to move as it is. Once I get it to the winter location then I'll build a nesting box that I can move out in the spring. I really don't want them nesting and laying in the deep litter if I can help it. I'll also add a couple of roosts for them that will give them someplace to be off of the deck. I like Justin Rhodes' nest box system where the bar can be put up to keep them out when they should be foraging, winter may be a different critter here than it is for western North Cackalacky where he lives, so we'll see how that one goes.
I made the Justin Rhodes Chicken Tractor and it has the swivel bar to prevent access to the nest box. My birds, however, just pushed it down and went in the boxes anyway. I used a bungee cord to keep the bar up and they managed to still push the bar down just enough to get in. I gave up on it and started turning the nest boxes so the openings were facing each other instead of in the tractor.
Thanks Bill. It didn't recognize the file format so I converted to .jpg and they are up now. I haven't mentioned it in the videos. I suppose I ought to.
The birds seem to be doing ok. They started laying eggs again. They laid 2 yesterday! It was -7 here this morning and no eggs. The pullets are roosting on the roosting bars now, too. I wish I had built a second greenhouse so they'd have more space. They aren't cramped but it's going to be a long winter
With the cold weather we have had here in the Flathead, ours stopped laying as well. They were starting to put out 1 or 2 per day, but that stopped dead with the -21 and -22 we had the past couple of nights. "Only" supposed to get down to -9 tonight. Just gotta keep feeding them and they will do their job.
Two of them together would have definitely given your flock more room. Mine has reduced down to 8 birds with age losses. But four of my current hens went broody this last year, so I'm going to go for the broody hens doing the flock increase this year. I like the look of a couple of yours. Think they'd go well with my rooster. What are all of yours, by the way?
4 barred rocks, a buff orpington and two black orpingtons. The rooster is a Craigslist special which I think is a Delaware. He's a very amenable fella and I like him a lot.
This pic is before we lost one of the barred rocks and the mini buff orpington we had
We also have the "old girls" that are two giant black australorps, they didn't take to the new girls very well at all. As they are hitting the 5 year mark, they are going to be harvested when the weather gets warm enough for me to boil up some dipping water.
Mine are based on TexasPrepper's design as well. I used two cattle panels on the greenhouse I put against the end of my chicken coop. Mine hit 34 degrees yesterday with outside temps of 5 or less all day.
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
Todd Parr wrote:Mine are based on TexasPrepper's design as well. I used two cattle panels on the greenhouse I put against the end of my chicken coop. Mine hit 34 degrees yesterday with outside temps of 5 or less all day.
Awesome! Are you using it for winter greens, housing chickens, etc? I put an electronic thermometer inside mine but it isn't working. I need to get an old school analog one.
I just built it and pushed it up against the small chicken door on the side of my coop so that the chickens would have a little extra room that didn't have snow. It has pretty large gaps around the door and where it is pushed up against the coop. I was hoping for some solar gain but I was shocked by how much I saw. The first day it was 20 degrees F outside and it hit 78 degrees inside. I was pretty surprised.