Y'all with wire or tarp roofs on your runs -- GO BRACE THEM

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by patandchickens, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Just a little public service announcement for anyone who hasn't noticed the large number of 'my run is caving in' posts lately [​IMG]

    Even large-mesh wire *can* catch a lot of snow, becoming a solid layer with sufficient snowfall; chickenwire is pretty bad for that, and obviously a tarp is about as bad as it gets.

    Snow is very heavy. Especially wet snow, or dry snow that rain falls onto.

    4x4 posts are best, or you can take pairs of 2x4s and screw them together along their long dimension so they form a T in cross-section (screw thru the wide side of one into the narrow side of the other, you know?). Or in a pinch, ANYthing is better than nothing.

    If possible, have them bearing upwards into horizontal supports (assuming the run has a flat roof) made of 2x6 or 2x8 or something like that. It is usually best to put the supports ON EDGE, so the 2" narrow side is against the wire mesh roof. This may sound backwards -- indeed, it does give a smaller bearing area on the roof -- but if you put them wide side up, they will just bow and bend and break under heavy snow. So it is stronger to run them narrow side up, if you can screw them STRONGLY to your vertical props (preferably with a scrap of 2x4 underneath, screwed into the prop, for additional support).

    If you can't run horizontal supports across the inside of your run roof, for instance if it is hoop style, see what you can find to increase the surface area of the top of the vertical supports. Old tires are a traditional thing to use, but in recent threads on this subject I've seen buckets used to good effect too. Or whatever else you can find.

    Wedge the vertical prop in as well as you can -- ideally it will be slightly longer than the run is high, so you can kick it to wedge it into place -- but if you have any 2x4s lying around it can be smart to use them at waist height, crosswise in the run, to brace the supports in position. Screw into run posts at the ends of the 2x4 and the vertical support(s) in the middle, you know?

    Whether or not you brace your run, and no matter how *much* you do, if you have anything other than a solid strongly-built ROOF on your run, it would be real, real smart to go out there periodically during any significant snowstorm and use a broom or rake or whatnot to knock the snow off the mesh roof *as it accumulates*. As many have found, waiting til the storm is over can be too late.

    Good luck to all, hope this is useful to *someone* [​IMG],

    Pat, in the process of building runs with ROOFS for just this reason [​IMG]
  2. sunnydee

    sunnydee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 17, 2008
    I did brace my run roof, but I also shoveled it off at 6:00 a.m. this morning. I thought it would block the little sunlight we get this time of year.
  3. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    God Bless Texas...
  4. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008

    Our culprit was wet leaves. My coop is nestled among some lovely mature oak and maple trees and the leaves just kept accumulating on the top - a few days of rain and the whole kit and kaboodle split down the middle. One of my goofy Leghorns got so upset she flew the coop, then spent the remainder of the day trying to get back in. [​IMG] We don't get enough snow down here to cause much problems - but I wanted to chime in that wet leaves cause problems, too!
  5. Rare Feathers Farm

    Rare Feathers Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Good advice--that's why we don't cover our runs (yet). After I save up some $$ I'll be putting metal roofs on them. I just need lots of money...LOL
  6. orchidchick

    orchidchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2008
    south florida
    I don't know Pat,
    I was just reading another post about dealing with 14" and ready to cave, and that was with cattle panels. Which of course would need to be braced. It almost seems like you would want to be able to remove your "top" if possible. I come from New England and it gets to a point where you just can't keep up with the weatha, if you know what I mean.

    It also seems like when it gets so bad, the chooks are staying indoors anyway. It would be ideal if there would be some way you could roll back your run roof when it got so bad that you didn't have to babysit it or spend a fortune in lumbar bracing it and risk wrecking the rest of it. With all these good minds, we ought to be able to come up with something!

  7. CritterHill

    CritterHill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    How's this for bracing?




    2x4 wire over the top for the roof. So far not catching snow, just ice...
  8. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    [​IMG] I had to send my hubby out in the middle of the night last week to go knock snow off the run... its horse fencing and was FULL of snow and sagging down low.

    He wanted to know if it was really nessesary, I told him No, we can always build it back up again tomorrow... he went right on out.
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Very good point - not many are set up to be able to do it, but if you can, it pretty much completely eliminates the chance of structural damage!

    It would be ideal if there would be some way you could roll back your run roof when it got so bad that you didn't have to babysit it or spend a fortune in lumbar bracing it and risk wrecking the rest of it.

    Now that's a really interesting idea. I like it!

    My first thought would be to construct the run roof in panels 'small' enough to handle reasonably well, like 4x4 or 8x8 (somewhat depending on your materials, and of course they'd have to be the full width of the run unless they rested on a long beam down the middle of it), and have them affixed with a few heavy bolts and wingnuts. In late November (or whenever, depending where you live) you would just remove the wingnuts, push the panels up off the bolts, and remove them from the run. Heck, they could probably spend the winter leaning against the downwind-side run fence as long as it's solidly built. Then recommission 'em in spring.

    Those who worry about hawk attacks when their chickens use the now-uncovered run in the winter could I suppose temporarily stretch trellis or deer netting over it, just draped with weights or caught on hooks, to be removed when you expect Weather.

    For a small run you could have the 'lid' actually hinged on, so it could be put on and off multiple times during the winter depending on the forecast.

    There is probably a better way of doing it, that's just what comes first to mind.... I really think your idea would be useful to a number of people, Orchidchick, and should be explored further! [​IMG]

  10. Rare Feathers Farm

    Rare Feathers Farm Overrun With Chickens

    We got so much snow last year that the tarp we had over our dog run snagged & BENT the frame of the kennel! And this was not a cheap-o kennel, either! I wanted to put tarps on the runs but they would surely collapse with this snow!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by