Friday, September 18, 2015

PVC Chicken Run/Hoop House

At one time most of our neighbor were tobacco farmers. PVC hoop houses were a common sight. Many in the area still use hoop houses to get an early start on their seedlings. We took the idea in a different way. This spring we experienced a chicken explosion! We hatched out many chicks, but for safety reasons we didn't want to put the babies straight into the coop with our adult chickens. We also desperately wanted a way to reap the benefits of having chickens in our yard, without the concerns raised by free ranging.
Normal hoop houses are built using a wooden frame, the PVC pipes are inserted into holes drilled into the wood frame. Plastic is then stretched over the hoops to make a greenhouse. They are not portable or easily movable. We needed something that was easily movable. Ultimately we wanted something that 1 person could move around the yard without the aid of a four wheeler. 

Large 4 inch PVC drain pipes ended up being our go-to frame for the hoop house/chicken run. They come in 5 foot lengths, we joined two lengths together with a coupler to make a frame that was 10X5 rectangle. We drilled holes evenly spaced down both 10 foot sides and slipped 10 foot lengths of 1 inch PVC. This gave us a great domed hoop house shape. 

We used the same pipe that we used for the hoop "ribs" to frame out a door for one of the 5 foot long ends. We then stretched chicken wire across the whole frame. Using hog rings to join the pieces of wire together and zip ties to attach the wire to the PVC frame. 

This has worked well all summer long. We currently have 1 5x5 "broody run" were we are keeping a hen with her sole hatched chick. and 2 10X5 runs for chickens of various ages. We have just use tarps over the coop to sheild chickens from the weather. Soon all the chickens will be going into our main coop and the PVC runs will be stored in the barn. When the time comes for starting seedlings we plan on stretching plastic over the PVC chicken runs and using them as hoop houses for starting seeds. 

All in all this was a great project. Each run cost around $200 for supplies, and I could haul all of the supplies home from the store using my car!