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One of the early projects this spring was to get some additional animal housing built, specifically for the way-too-many chicks I ordered. I have a list of needs a shelter has to meet.

  1. It has to be affordable. None of these $500 Amish-built backyard chicken pens.
  2. It has to be something I can complete by myself – Hubby’s work schedule picks up and this poor little farm has only me to count on (*gulp*)
  3. It has to be mobile (again, movable by me)
  4. It needs to be somewhat flexible – chickens today, calves tomorrow?

Several years ago I built something like this for our first batch of layer chickens (which I mail ordered and brooded in November!). It has held up with periodic maintenance (new plastic/tarp every year or two), but has become the primary roost/residence of most of our laying flock. I figured I could reproduce it without too much trouble. They’re mostly made of cattle panels, 2x4s, smaller lumber for the door, a tarp to cover and chicken wire.

Above is the first one I built. You might notice parts of a recalled crib that I found stashed behind the shed. 🙂 I knew they’d come in handy someday, and they have! The door of this one is 1×3 lumber, lined with 1″ chicken wire. The lower parts of the entire thing are lined with the same 1″ wire, and the upper parts of the back and front have 2″ chicken wire. The rear ‘wall’ is half of a cattle panel; the edges and ends bent around the edge of the arched panel so that nothing is sticking out to tear the tarp.

The one above is mostly the same, but I had run out of crib pieces. 🙂 The front is some small pieces of scrap cattle panel and some ripped 2×4 lumber (into 2x2s). The front is tall because I had really strong guys helping build it, and the front of the arch ended up pulled inward by their metal-bending talents. The door is extra wide on this one (which I like) because I cut the vertical parts of the frame… and maybe it became taller when they pulled in the edges, or maybe I just can’t measure, but we had to move one of the vertical frame supports out to a shorter point on the arch. 🙂 Hubby built both doors for me.

These are serving as both brooders and movable pens for our broiler chickens (aka “meat mutants”) this year. I will do an update on them when I can bring myself to talk about it.