Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hoop houses - good for turkeys!

Want turkeys but don't want to build a permanent structure? Have lions, tigers, bears, or wolves so you don't want your birds to run free? Or how about...do you just want a great farm project with a million uses?

Make a hoop house!

Last summer I visited my pal and Farm Master, Bourbon Red, to learn more about how to build a hoop house. You can read the official instructions and get a complete materials list here.

This project was 10x12', used 3 16' panels for the hoop part, a couple of horse fence sections for the end, a tarp for the cover, and a door made of materials on hand. The cost of goods was about $200 and was really pretty easy. You'll need a mitre saw to make a couple of 45* cuts and I'd suggest using deck screws to put the whole thing together (I never nail because I usually rip everything apart at some point). Get a sack of zip ties, some of those heavy duty fence staples, a helper, and you are in business.

If you're short like me the hoop houses are big and roomy enough to walk around in without bonking your head. And you can really fance them up with perches...


and nest boxes.

Five gallon buckets make great nest boxes.

You can use this method to make a hoop house of any size. These big ones can be pulled with a tractor as long as you go slow so you don't run over your birds.

A couple of things I learned about the construction are:

* Use zip ties to secure the hoop panels side by side for additional support.
* Using standard size lumber, the hoop roof will be slightly longer than the base...which is great - you have a slight overhang -- thats the end for your door.
* To make the hoop, secure one end of the panel loosely on the top of one of the rails with those big fence staples, then gently walk toward the base with the other end of the panel (the panel will arch up to make the hoop roof), and have someone hold it in place on that second side rail while you whack in the staples.  Then go back and secure the staples on the first side.

Closed end. Turkeys happily popping all around.

Door end, see the over hang?

For smaller birds you probably want to run chicken wire on the inside of the hoop to keep them in... or to keep predators out. We are pretty cautious so we'd probably lock our birds inside a permanent structure (coop in a house) at night. But I know folks who don't. If you are concerned you could run hot wires/electric mesh around the yard as extra protection.

There are tons of uses for hoop houses - for creepy meat chickens, for instance. And being able to move it around allows them to graze on fresh grass without worrying about their safety. You could also use structures like this for small stock or for storing hay or straw. Or remove the tarp and use plastic and you have a green house.

This is definitely going to be one of our projects this summer. Who's hoopin' with me?

13 comments:

Summersweet Farm said...

This is awesome! I'm bookmarking it for later this year. I want to build a hoophouse for my squash but wasn't sure how... this will provide trellis support for the vines up the sides as well! Thanks!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks SF! And great thought about using it as a trellis.

the Goodwife said...

Say, I think I just may be hoopin'....what a GREAT idea for creepy meats.........no huge mess in da barn that way......me likey!

Mr. H. said...

We would love to do something like this as we have a multi acre field that would be perfect for our hens. Our issue is that there is no way they could stay there overnight due to it being next to a public park. I need to figure out a way to "drive" my chickens there and back again. Maybe a hoop house that could roll off a trailer or something. I can't wait to see yours in action.:)

Chai Chai said...

I really like this, looks like something we can build no problem!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

The best part, GW, is that you can move it. So I'm thinking put one over next years garden spot and voila. Think of all the compost!

Mr. H - just call those silly clucks of yours! They will come if you have food and show them where to go. As long as they don't have to go more than say, 50 yards and can see you, they should be fine. Have Mrs H walk behind them with Rowdy - those hens will move right along.

Chai Chai - you could totally do this. Easy peasy!

Mr. H. said...

It's about 200 yards and they would have to cross a busy road.:(

freemotion said...

I'm hoopin' with ya, girl! I have one almost finished (needs the end pieces) and am getting a couple more panels to make a second one for this years chicks and poults. We raised our meat chicks in one last fall in one of the gardens, which was fenced with chicken wire so we used the unfinished hoophouse as a coop and shade area for them. Worked great!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Great work, Free! I love the shelter in the garden idea.. a great use of space and resources. Sounds like something we should do!

Country Goddess said...

Oh, this is precisely what we need for our flock! We're raising heritage birds for meat and eggs. Would it be doable to have a door at either end so I can divide the house in half (breeding birds kept separate)? Is this house protective enough in the winter (we live in VT)? How did you attach the nesting boxes and roosts? The link for the instructions isn't any good anymore. Do you know if your friend still has the plans online anywhere?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hi CG! plz stand by for answers to your questions and THANKS for letting me know that the link was dead! i'll get it fixed up :-)

Country Goddess said...

Thank you!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

ohmigolly... CG - i'm so sorry! I got the answer but then forgot to post it.... he said......

I never had any plans - we winged it. Sure - no reason why you couldn't put a door in both ends - but be careful that you don't make the hoop house too long (and therefore too heavy) that way. I'd run a 2x whatever across the middle and put whatever framing and mesh you need in that way. You can make one one panel deep - or 60 - whatever works for you. The nests and roosts are just 2x4 or 2x2 frames (that the buckets can lay in) wired to the side and then supported with a hanging wire - right from the panel (hoop). Here in Ohio we can winter poultry in them no problem - put another tarp over the windy side and put in straw bales around the sides and up the back to make a good wind break. Plenty of bedding on a really well drained surface is also a must. Dry and no drafts - they can handle just about anything else. It's not optimal - but very doable. We've also just dragged the entire coop inside a larger barn for the winter - which works great. Might want to take the covering tarp off so it isn't too dark in there though.

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