How do you plan for severe weather?


8 Years
Mar 12, 2011
Dillsburg, PA
My Coop
My Coop
We're having a heck of a thunderstorm right now. Thanks to my poor planning (no coop yet), the chicks are safe in my garage.

The run, however, was blown over, and rolled about 50 feet. I'm sure that the tarp I've hung on top acted like a parachute, so I'll be removing that. It was there, however, to provide shade and shelter from mild down-pours during the day. I was planning to (someday) add a more permanent roof, but I'm afraid anything but wire on the run will be blown around.

Luckily, my coop is already much heavier than I had wanted. I think (hope) it will stay put once it's out there. I may consider wheeling it to a very sheltered part of my yard if severe thunderstorms are in the forecast. Gosh, I'm never going to want to go on vacation. This is nerve-wrecking!

So, what do you do to prepare your coop for a storm? I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you with portable, chicken tractor type setups.
Like you, my tractor turned out pretty heavy. I was worried about it being top heavy so I used 2x6 pt for the bottom boards. Then cut the 2x4's down to 1 1/2x 2's. this thing still comes in at about 700 pounds. My wife and I can move it pretty easy with the wheels I put on it. However , I don't think it will topple over. But if it was to get real bad I guess I could move them to the shed , but don't have anything to confine them in while in the shed. Here in North central Florida we get some real bad thunderstorms sometimes, but nothing like whats happening else where now.
Off subject, but I've been to most of those small towns in Ok. that have been hit so bad. Not been to any in Mo. I really feel for them.

I keep the runs covered with tarps but in a tornado or straight wind situation it probably won't turn out well.
I live in Oklahoma and right now where we are it's the 11 inches of rain in 8 hours that I'm dealing with from Monday night. Ugh! Wet runs, too muddy to move the tractors and then we had high winds on Tues. night that a tornado kicked up, so it ripped the tarps up. Dh draws the line at bringing the hens in the house unfortunately!
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To prevent the rolling of the coop run, secure it deep in the ground. your posts. We also poured cement around the whole outline of the run. my father who built the runs at my house used those metal elbow brackets on the corners of the posts that support the wood to the run.

I attempted on building my own duck run. it flopped. fell over and was all mangled. it took me many hours to clean the mess up. I didnt use bracets and my hammering was shotty. (spelling bad sorry)
anyways, one day, it rained real hard. And the tarp over the run, just kept getting filled with water. heavier and heavier, until it just caved in.
luckily nobody or animals were in there.
the next few days, my father came to the house and rebuilt the run better and right. lesson learned.
our runs are attached to extremly heavy coops. we have 3 attached large coops. check my byc for the pictures. dont know how much they weigh, sure cant move them myself.

When we do have alot of thunderstorms, they seem mostly at night (strange i know). by then all the animals are locked up for the night.
We have a tractor that is easy to move but pretty substantial. The girls get locked up at night in there. They have access to under the tractor and will hide under there when it is storming (heavy rains and winds) or will go inside. I have a portable run and skirt that attaches to it. I do not cover the top of the run with anything except a sunblock screen for really hot days. Since it isnt covered, it doesnt blow anywhere. My tractor:


my run.

Here is a winter pic of the girls in the run in front of the tractor.


Hope this helps!
Shade cloth!!! Seriously. It does not catch much wind, thus has a considerably lower tendency to act as a sail; in particular it does not FLAP which is often what makes tarps take wing (along with the structures they're attached to, sometimes). It will not keep rain out entirely but will diffuse a hard rain into a mist of small droplets that the chickens don't mind as much. And of course it provides shade. Either get the highest percentage shade cloth you can (like 85-90%) or use the 50% doubled. Installed intelligently it will last for some years.

Also, it can be smart to anchor the upwind-in-a-storm side of your tractor using cinderblocks or those screw-in dog anchors (get GOOD ones, not the cheapies)

Good luck, have fun,

If i'm looking at your run correctly, the base is 2x3 or 2x4 and the upper part is pvc? If the base is wood, i would attach some pipe clamps to the exterior perimeter of the run. they are metal "C" shaped and can be screwed into the wood. With these in place, you can use tent stakes or metal rebar "pins" to stake your run into the ground so it doesn't blow away. This is what my DH and i used on our son's playset and it withstands the strongest winds without budging! As far as the tarp you had covering your run - probably made a great sail! I highly recommend the shade cloth as a cover. No it's not waterproof, but when it is raining pretty heavily your chickens will get out of the rain. I have shadecloth covering the West side of my covered run and it sure does keep the temp down! (photos of this on my page)
Thanks for all the ideas. You folks have such strong coops and overall setups!

I think I will feel comfortable adding some cinder blocks, and staking the run down in stormy weather. It's really not something I want to do every day, but it will be easy enough to do when needed.

kichohana, I had to look at your page a couple times to find your shade cloth. It's so pretty I didn't recognize it. Your whole setup is gorgeous! I will have to invest in some shade cloth for the long run. I also like the idea of making removable panels of the stuff and using it as needed.

The tarp was always meant to be temporary. It was in my shed, and the last week's forecast was for 7 straight days of rain. Besides being caught in the wind yesterday, it generally looks terrible. I've been hiding my chickens in the very back corner of my yard. I live in the suburbs, and I am trying hard to have the neighbors LIKE living with our new chicks.
We had a similar problem with our old dog pens (luckily no dogs in it when it happened!). Yes, those tarp roofs are like parachutes and the wind just likes to pick them up. Hubby ended up anchoring the pens to the ground using wire and rebar pounded into the ground at an angle. Worked great and the pens never moved after that. In regards to the tarp holding water, that is a problem, eventually he built a frame with a peak on it, and we stretched the tarps over that and it solved that problem. We've since moved and now have a beautiful pavilion type roof set up for our dog runs, when he was building it I thought it looked too pretty to put dogs under
! Can't wait to see what he builds for my chickens! Lucky for me and unfortunately for him he is VERY handy!

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