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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Northern.Ontario, Mar 19, 2018.
Anyone ever use a tarp truck shelter as a temporary setup for raising meat birds?
I’ve often thought one would work well for birds. I raised thousands of hogs in similar, but much larger, shelters in Alberta.
While the tarp will offer very little, if any protection from predators, because if a raccoon ever figures out a tarp is all that stands between him and your chickens, he'll chew through the tarp in about a minute, and kill everything in sight.
At the very least, you'd need to roll up the tarp 4 feet, and go around the structure with a 4 foot roll of half inch hardware cloth, and then hope the predator never figures out you have zero protection above 4 feet.
However, if you haven't already purchased this structure, consider this.
You've made me think about the possibilities here, and if you went with the traditional portable car port structure, with metal panels as roofing and sides, as opposed to a tarp, you may have stumbled on one of the least expensive, and best, structures for birds. I have a hoop coop chicken tractor, and I was thinking that's the easiest, cheapest, and best way to get a predator-proof structure, but this may be even better. This would be an almost turnkey predator proof coop/run combination, with you just covering the south end with wire, the lower east and west walls with wire, and adding the anti-dig mat around the perimeter.
Those car ports are inexpensive for the their size, and I like how they have ends you can have installed with people doors. I'd put a completely sealed end and door on the north end of the structure, leave the south end completely open with only cattle panel fence panels as the substrate, with half inch hardware cloth zip tied over the cattle panel south end. A simple 1 inch by 2 inch welded wire anti-dig mat all the way around, stapled to the ground with landscape staples will prevent any predator from digging in.
I would have them leave off the bottom panel on the long east and west sides of the structure, and cover those openings with 18 or 24 inches with half inch hardware cloth, whatever the width of leaving off the first metal panel is. That'll give you great ventilation in warmer months, then seal those openings with clear plastic roof panels in the winter, but always leave the south end open, even in winter.
That's how my tractor is arranged, my open South end allows great ventilation in winter and floods the tractor with the low southern winter sun.
During the winter, if the north, east, and west sides are sealed, you'll create a still cushion of air at the north end of the structure, just like in a Woods Open Air House. It got down to minus 5 degrees this winter and my chickens were fine with the open south face of my tractor.
If you really want something great, wrap 2x8's in 60 mil PVC sheet roofing and have them mount the structure on those 2x8's as skids on each side, now you've got a giant chicken tractor you can drag once a week if you have a heavy vehicle or a tractor.
My tractor weighs over 3,000 pounds and I drag it every week with an SUV. The key is flat skids, wrapped in the PVV plastic. That creates a very smooth, slick skid and the PVC creates a rounded edge on the 2x8's, so they don't dig in during the pull. Here's a photo of my PVC wrapped skids.
My guess is, a metal carport structure is probably even lighter than my lumber tractor.
I also see this as a great option for someone wanting a predator-proof coop/run combination for year round layers. Roosting bars should be at the north end of the structure in the still cushion of air, which is draft free.
A wonderful size would be 8 feet by 16 feet, or 12 feet if room is limited. If constructed as I've described, metal panel roof and sides with hardwood cloth, and anti-dig mats, no wooden coop is necessary, or even desirable, so the time and money usually devoted to a wooden coop, can be utilized on the predator-proof coop/run combination. Coops only exist because we free range with no run, or our run isn't predator proof.
This structure will be predator proof, and that means you'll never have to lock your chickens in little wooden boxes again. Birds thrive with lots of space and fresh air, not locked in little boxes over half the day or more.
If someone ordered a 8x16 foot metal carport and built it as I've described, then mounted it on the skids I've described, they'd have a wonderful predator proof chicken tractor, at a very reasonable cost!
An huge easy walk in coop with plenty of headroom for you, and an excellent habitat for the birds to thrive in!
If you attach the skids and drag it a few feet every week, you won't even need to have any poop management, since you'll be leaving it behind as fertilizer for the grass.
I forgot to add that there will be a 48" high electric poultry fence surrounding the shelter. We don't necessarily have raccoons in our area but we do have: black bears, wolves, fox, lynx, maybe the odd skunk, possibly martens
Maybe the electric fence perimeter will be enough to keep predators from approaching the structure, it would be good if that's the case.
There's one other thing, chickens eat anything soft, they love insulation. My 13 birds ate half a 4'x8'x2" sheet of polystyrene insulation before I realized what they were doing.
I have no idea if they'd eat a tarp they could reach, especially if the tarp has a soft fabric back, just a thought. Using hardware cloth on the bottom 18 or 24 inches of the structure would keep the tarp out of reach, and give you better ventilation in the summer.
I don't know how hard it would be to roll up, and secure the tarp to do that, if you wanted to do it.
Yup, I put one these up to use as a winter run. So far Ive had to pick it out of the neighbors trees, and now it just totally collapsed. Ugh....
That's interesting Andreanar, did the chickens peck apart the tarp, or did it get brittle in the cold temperatures, and self-destruct with the whipsaw effect of the back and forth of the wind?
If your structure had used the traditional metal panels like we typically see used on these kinds of carports, do you think it would have survived OK with the metal panels, instead of the tarp?
I assume the collapse you mention is of the tarp, not the metal frame?
We live near Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Winters are brutal and loooooong; over 3 feet of snow and lots of days it below -20 Celsius. I have a heavy duty version of the shelter in my original post. The poles are much thicker and the tarp much heavier. It's 3 winters old now and has survived very harsh temperatures and wind. The snow never accumulates on top, just slides right off at the slightest breeze.
The wind gets so fierce here that it just ripped right up out of the ground and went flying. That caused the tarps to rip in places and some of the poles bent. After that, it was a no win situation. We had a terrible snow storm and the wind and snow was so heavy that the roof poles bent and collapsed. The chickens never once pecked at the tarp. Maybe if the structure was set in a place where it had some wind break, it would be different.
Yeah, lots of surface area and low weight will turn anything into a sail. I've seen trampolines up in trees for the same reason.
I've also read accounts of hoop tractors being flung over too by the wind. Mine's so heavy its not really a possibility, but most aren't.
I used four eyes that screw into the ground for the kid's trampoline in my backyard, that would probably be a good idea on a light weight coop too. They call them spiral anchors.
I got these at Walmart.
Apparently available in different lengths based on how much aptitude to fly something has.
Here's the link to their page