What to use to cover run in winter?

ThisoldNHhen

In the Brooder
Sep 8, 2020
11
18
23
New Hampshire
I need a suggestion to cover run in the winter that will hold up to snow and ice that will be inexpensive. It's still a work in progress, and will be doing more next year.... but weather is getting cold and want to get a cover on for this year to get me through the winter. I don't want to spend a lot now since I may change it next year. Wondering if I could build pitched frame to act as a roof with a tarp, so snow would slid off.. that is my main concern is the weight of the snow. Thanks for any suggestion or pictures🙃!
 

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NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,540
5,549
366
USA
Wondering if I could build pitched frame to act as a roof with a tarp, so snow would slid off.. that is my main concern is the weight of the snow. Thanks for any suggestion or pictures🙃!
If you put wire fencing (welded wire or hardware cloth) over the frame, it will help support the tarp and reduce sagging.

Or you can use cattle panels to make arches, although they usually have big enough holes that the tarp will sag a bit through the holes. You could cover a cattle panel with hardware cloth, and that will keep the tarp smooth enough for rain to run off nicely.

No matter how you support it, you will probably have shovel or sweep off the snow after it falls, and of course be careful not to tear up your tarp while doing it. If the tarp gets a few small holes, it will still keep out most snow, but holes tend to rapidly get bigger once they start.

Depending on the size of your run, you could put some sturdy boards across (2x4 or larger, skinny side up), and then put sheets of plywood on top. You would still have to shovel after each snowfall to keep it from getting too deep and heavy.


I don't know how fast your snow usually falls, so I don't know whether removing the snow each morning is enough with any of these, or if you'd have to go out a few extra times to keep it from getting too heavy and collapsing.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
85,798
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SW Michigan
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Wondering if I could build pitched frame to act as a roof with a tarp, so snow would slid off.. that is my main concern is the weight of the snow.
It would have to be pitched very steeply(60°+) and be slippery(metal or plastic) for the snow to actually slide off.
Your frame under the roofing is the key to snow load.

What are the dimensions of your run, in feet by feet?
 

Big Doggie

Chirping
Mar 23, 2020
254
297
96
Mass
I need a suggestion to cover run in the winter that will hold up to snow and ice that will be inexpensive. It's still a work in progress, and will be doing more next year.... but weather is getting cold and want to get a cover on for this year to get me through the winter. I don't want to spend a lot now since I may change it next year. Wondering if I could build pitched frame to act as a roof with a tarp, so snow would slid off.. that is my main concern is the weight of the snow. Thanks for any suggestion or pictures🙃!
You may have to add more studs to support the top frame. Then roof it with plywood and your choice of roofing materials. I kept one side 6” higher than the opposite just to give the roof a slope for rain run off
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,502
32,810
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southern Michigan
It's about the framing, as @aart already mentioned, and unless it's built right, it could collapse.
Shoveling snow in a blizzard at 2am won't be a lot of fun, or being inside when it falls down.
Maybe you can find some reclaimed lumber or something, there's just no really cheap solution.
A cattle panel hoop house can be built inexpensively, and used as a run. Look into that, maybe.
Mary
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
457
821
166
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
^^^ What they all said. Water is heavy, even as snow. No tarp solution will work without significant framing underneath - the grommets will simply rip out as soon as its tested.

A green house is designed to a minimum roof load of 15 psf. A typical light frame house (shingle roof) will have a 20 psf minimum roof load rating. Snow loads, depending upon region, will add anywhere from 25 to 60 psf additional to that!

There are no "good" (reliable) resources I can find for how much a given tarp might support, strung from its edge grommets. "not much" sees to be the guidance.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
Jul 26, 2008
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
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if you decide to risk the tarp idea, (all warnings have already been mentioned in other posts above) make sure you make it as steep as possible, and I have heard that if you spray non-stick spray on the tarp it will help the snow slide off better.

Also, check the construction area at your local dump, and the free pages on Craigslist and Facebook. I have gotten old ugly but perfect for a coop metal roofing that way. And yes, for free.

I do know one lady that used the cattle panels, covered those with low cost decorative plastic garden lattice, and then a tarp. She said the lattice helped give the tarp more structure (no sagging into the cattle panel holes). That might be a better roof choice.

If you decided to go with cattle panels, maybe set it up as a chicken tractor that you can use in the summer, and hook up to the coop with a chunnel for the winter. Then you don't have to worry about making your current run frame snow worthy.
 

thepick4uchicks

Songster
May 23, 2020
982
1,620
143
Mississippi
Guys and Ladies, what are y’all referring to when you talk about cattle panels? Are you talking about wood fencing material that comes in sections? Like pallets would suffice for? And OP where do you live and have all this snow load? What did you do for rain cover or shelter during the spring or for summer storms? Not have any for them? Do you not have a coop? I don’t see it in your picture even attached to your run yet..?
 

Callender Girl

Crowing
Sep 18, 2018
1,326
7,029
466
North Central Iowa
Cattle panels are galvanized, welded metal panels, sold at some of the home improvement stores and most of the livestock supply stores. They usually come in lengths that range m 8 to 16 feet or so. Very strong, but a bit flexible.

I don't expect your snow load in Mississippi compares to what we get in Iowa. I have used heavy duty tarps over my runs here, but, yes the wind can rip out the grommets and I still have to shovel off the snow.

Good luck with your winterizing.
 

Jeanw

Songster
Jul 30, 2020
301
709
113
Montgomery, NY
I’ve used a tarp for a temp setup and every time it rained or snowed I’d have to be out there making sure to remove water/snow so it didn’t tear out the grommets. Wind can also rip tarp off unless secured properly. But I didn’t do it right. I just had it tied to fencing or trees with paracord. This year i was gifted a chain link dog kennel enclosure with roof that I’ll setup where at least the chix can have shelter from rain and snow when outside their coop. Also, make sure it’s a heavy duty tarp or you’ll be replacing it often. All the best!
 

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