So, excuse their homely appearance and simple construction - they really are useful (and cheap!)
|This tarp is two years old, and obviously needs replacing.|
. I haven't gotten around to refurbishing this pen for the current year yet.
10 2x2 furring strips
1 1x2 furring strip for door frame
8 corner braces
25 feet of hardware cloth
cable ties ("zip ties") and galvanized deck screws
6 foot by 8 foot tarp
2 carbiner clips or double-ended snap hooks
All of these should be available from your local home improvement store (Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards, etc.) I included the links in case you weren't sure what each item was.
You will also need some kind of saw to cut your lumber to size (I used my brother-in-law's compound miter saw, which was a lot more tool than necessary - but it worked pretty slick!), and a drill for driving the screws.
First, you need to cut your furring strips to size. You'll need 4 in their original 8' length, cut four others in half for seven 4' pieces, and cut the extra 4' piece and the two remaining 8' strips into 2' pieces (nine total) for the 4 corner posts, 4 roost supports, and one for the door frame. Also cut the thinner strip into four 2' pieces.
Once you have them cut to size, you just need to screw them together. Use the metal corner braces and 1" deck screws to make two big rectangles, then join these to the 2' uprights with 3" deck screws. It can be pretty tricky balancing everything, so if you can get someone to hold them for you that will be a big help.
Once you have the basic frame put together, add the roost supports, and then the roosts (you don't have to be too picky about the height of the roosts; I usually go for about 1/3 of the way up the supports).
Next put your door together - simply screw the 2' strips of 1x2 into a square, with the hardware cloth sandwiched between. Connect the door to the frame (I usually have to use two zip ties per "hinge" to make them long enough to go around both strips of wood, with a little play so the door can swing).
Once the door is finished, swing it to the "open" position and add your water support bar just behind where the door rests, so that you can swing the door freely without hitting the water bar (I have learned to add this step from frustrated experience). (See picture at top of post to see the water bar if that description doesn't make sense to you.)
To keep the door closed, I like to use either carbiner clips (pictured) or double-ended snap hooks. I can usually get a tighter close with snap hooks, although I haven't had any problems with either predators or escaping chickens with either one.
And believe it or not, in the three summers I've been using these pens, I haven't lost any of my chickens to predators (while the chickens are in the pen, anyway - if they are out of the pen at dark, they rarely see the light of day again. There are plenty of coyotes, owls, hawks, skunks, raccoons, and other varmints around who love a free chicken dinner.)
So, even though they're pretty redneck, they're also pretty useful. I'd love to hear any ideas for improvement you might have (that preferably don't add any weight - I am still just one wimpy woman!)
This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop and Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival.