I was just thinking about shade cloth last night--- it does last a lot longer than tarps. I had a 14 ft trampoline frame that I used to make a 14x6 ft coop/run, and two layers of the shade cloth kept it bone dry!I use some of that shade cloth over one end of my run. It does make it a little cooler as it doesn't let in as much of the sun, plus it's breathable allowing air to pass through for ventilation. I put mine on 3 year's ago, attaching it with some grammars to the outside of the run and going over the top. I left it up all year round and it still seems to be holding up ok. I do have another one that I bought at the same time as that one, for when that one ever wear's out.
Hey.. check out "marine" fabric covers.. they are built for boats and have UV protectant and you can get them measured out to your specs, w grommets, for pretty reasonable prices. I can't remember if i just googled them or found them on amazon, but pretty much they stand up to total sun in an ocean plus salt and wind, beats out what we've got to handle! I was planning on putting those sail covers in the back, but got my cheaper walmart ramadas instead (which could also be an option). In the summer tho, i think they need to be up high. Mine are 8' high and it is like a little oven under them, but they aren't breathable.. I don't have misters, etc. Mine are people covers, so i can't speak to the specific chicken effectiveness. But if its hot for me, might be hot for them. Can you also plant some native trees along the sides? They grow quickly and provide nice natural cooling. (Just throwing out ideas)
People also used to be able to save money by using epdm roof lining material, as in mobile home/RV roof material. I don't know if it'd be any cheaper these days though.
I would suggest one thing, reduce the number of chickens to six. That much space is not that much space when the flock is in 24/7. Adding stuff to hide behind and entertain will take up more floor space. Otherwise I think you have plenty of cover there for monsoons in my experience.Hi, everyone, our coop plans are back on! The expense that was hurting us the most was the cost of lumber, so I started looking for plans that required less lumber. I was inspired by Gallo Del Cielo's hoop coop and some videos by this couple.
When I showed these to my landlord, a mathematics professor, she got very excited and wrote out two whole pages of equations to determine the optimal height and width of the hoops, lol. She's back in, although I have yet to calculate final costs. I wanted some feedback on the basic design from you all first.
The basic construction is 1/4" hardware cloth and heavy duty tarp over cattle panels. I know the coop looks rather bare. We'll add perches and toys to make life more interesting for the hens. This was just to show the layout. Please excuse my crappy Sketchup skills, you know how much I @%^$# that program!
The design is for 8-10 laying hens with 12.8 sq. ft. of ground surface area per hen (probably 4 EEs, 4 leghorns, and 2 buff orps). They cannot free-range due to the many Cooper's hawks we have here. We also have coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, rattlesnakes, feral cats, and pack rats. The reason for hardware cloth going down 1 foot below the coop is because our yard is plagued with those burrowing ground squirrels.
Town code requires chicken coops to be predator proof. Basically the entire thing is a fully enclosed 1/4" hardware cloth cage. A wireless cam will help us keep an eye on the coop while we're inside our home.
I don't expect the inside of the coop to get soaked when it rains but you know how those monsoon downpours can be. The concrete block caps on the ground are there to keep the wood out of water and mud as much as possible if water gets in. We'll use pressure-treated wood anywhere it touches the ground. The plywood panels on either side of the 6' roosts should block water and wind.
The western sun in summer is going to be brutal on the open west end of the coop so we will add a pull-down shade over that end. We're also putting in misters and a fan and a shade sail over the exposed hardware cloth hoop for summer. With that and the 8' ceiling, a white tarp (instead of black), and open east and west ends for air flow, that should allow the heat to vent and help keep the coop cool, right?
What are peoples' experiences with summer and winter desert temps in hoop coops? Can the hens stay cool enough in summer and warm enough in winter? The tarp only allows for about 32 square feet with direct/overhead sunshine - is that going to be enough sun exposure for the hens, especially in winter? How often do tarps have to be replaced? How do you anchor the coop against downbursts? Anything else we should know about hoop coops in the desert?
ALSO... does anyone here raise mealworms for their chickens? Do you keep your mealworm kit outdoors? How do the mealworms do in our desert temp extremes?
P.S. I am loving this rain!!