We have just experienced the Blizzard of 2013. We are shoveled out and all the birds are fine. I can’t stop thinking about the approaching breeding season! I am resisting and controlling all urges to start the incubator! That has to wait until March when we do the fertility check prior to shipping hatching eggs and prior to hatching the chicks we will ship.Those lucky chicks from the fertility check will live a good live and die a fast and humane death so they can feed us next year.
In the mean time, there has been interest in our small breeding hoop pens. They are easy and cost effective to make, great to use for breeding pairs or groups and moveable. They can work for poultry other than chickens and modified to any size you need.
This picture gives you a good view of the frame work. We made a 4′x6′ box with 2″x10″ boards. As you can see a piece of strapping is added to the 6′ sides. Electrical conduit clamps are added above the strapping (which serves as a stop) to receive and hold the 3/4″x10′ PVC pipe that we used for the hoops.
We made six units and moved them into place behind the Apple Arbor and in back of the tent where we sleep three seasons of the year. We placed a piece of strapping along the top of the hoops and used plastic ties to hold the hoops evenly spaced. The we put 1″ chicken wire over sides and back. Again plastic ties held the wire to the hoops. If using 3′ wire it will take 3 pieces (6′ wire will take 2 pieces and join with an overlap at the top). Start with the first piece on top. This way your side pieces, which will overlap UP over top piece (predator can’t nose in) and go down below the strapping used as a hoop stop. NOTE: Depending on your situation you may want to use hardware cloth around the bottom instead of or over the 1′ chicken wire.
Rain Cover: Once wired, we used an inexpensive blue tarp to cover the back half of the pen. It wraps around the back but does not totally close the back so there is air flow in the summer. These pens back up against mature conifers so the opening in the tarp cover in the back is shaded.
Perch: As you can see, we nailed a 2×4 upright to each side and placed a 2×4 across for the perch.
Door: You may not like what we did for the door and you can be as fancy as you like when placing door on open end. We took a 4′x4′ piece of 1/2″ plywood ( 2 pens to a sheet) secured the bottom in a groove made by nailing a piece of strapping to the top of the 2″x10″ front base. Be sure to leave a little more than a 1/2″ space. The bottom of the plywood front sits in the groove (can’t be pushed out) and then we added screw eyes (bolt style) near the top of each side so we could use bungee cords to secure to a hoop. The picture above shows this and as I said be as fancy as you wish if you don’t like our system! It works well for us.
Cost: There is no point in my discussing costs. We are entering our third season with these pens. You can easily make a materials list and price the materials in your area. I know they are the most reasonable and versatile system we could come up with.
As an aside: We have kept yearling peacocks successfully in one through the winter by using greenhouse plastic to cover all but the front (closing off the back). We then places two old quilts over the top (not all the way down the sides) and let what ever snow falls add to the insulation. This has worked in Vermont with spells of subzero weather.
Good luck with your 2013 season. We are looking forward to ours!
I have received numerous requests, on here and through other electronic media, to provide pictures of the door system we are using on our breeding pens. I will add three pictures and hope they provide the necessary information.
Not the best day for taking pictures as everything is wet! Look carefully and you can see the scrap of strapping we used.. 10-12″ ….there is a matching piece on the other side (3rd picture). One could put it all the way across but we saw no reason to. Slight warp shows some corn. This pen is wintering 2 young peacocks.
Neighboring pen that we are not using this winter. Plywood has been set aside. I took the snow off the scrap of strapping and left the snow on the front baseboard.
If you look closely (sorry wet day so all wood is dark)at the top of the picture, you can see the end of the far side “stop” .
We also had inquiries about opening the pen.
To feed and water, I open the right side either by sliding or by lifting up and over the “stop”. This allows me to feed and water alone. If they won’t lay eggs up front I use a small net to retrieve them.
Major work, like moving birds etc., requires the help of a second person to “man the door”.
April 20-21, 2013 we added this hoop pen
This past weekend we changed plans and rather then build another wooden coop, we hooped the floor platform creating a 4×12 pen that has been designed so we can slide a divider between the pair of closely spaced center hoops. Divided we would have another pair or 4×6 breeding pens. WE PREFER frames on the ground as the ones first discussed above have. We already have the platform and so we used it.