Poultry Breeding Pens

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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.

Please tell your friends...

18 Responses to Poultry Breeding Pens

  1. Karen February 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Great! I have a stack of 2 x 10s that I was going to make a heavy duty pig shelter out of, but I’ve decided I am going to skip having breeding pigs for a few years. These could also easily be used as mini greenhouses.

  2. Erin February 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Can you post a picture of you doors? This is perfect because I have been researching different ways to build chicken tractors type things and these would work great. I will use hog/cattle panels covered in chicken wire though, as we have them available and the PVC can get expensive. Thanks for posting!

    • rick February 11, 2013 at 10:38 am #


      Was looking at the pic and re-read the door description. It’s basically nothing more than a piece of plywood that slides into the groove made by the strapping board and secured with bungee cords to two screw eyes. At least that’s what it sounds like to me. I could be wrong.

  3. Judy February 11, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for sharing your design. I have been pondering something similar and appreciate the “head start” your plan provides. I am not quite sure about how your door works, though. Do you remove the whole door to feed/water/etc? Thanks for your post!

  4. Kathleen Kinkead February 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Can you post another picture of the door system and the “groove” I’m just not understanding the groove/door part.

    • James Trundy Verrill February 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      will see if I can get a picture today.

      • Kathleen Kinkead February 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

        Thanks James!

    • Muhammad Suleman April 2, 2023 at 11:52 pm #

      A very nice idea.i will try inshallah

  5. kathleen kinkead February 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    oh James thank you! I get it now! wouldn’t have figured it out otherwise. I priced new materials at home depot in yakima WA and figured out I can build two pens for slightly over $100 total…which is well worth it since I can use the
    structure for other things. Sorry you were out in the aftermath of the blizzard…I totally forgot it’s winter!

  6. John Szarowski April 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Jim, these are great!

    I’ve seen a similar system using two cattle fence panels instead of the PVC… that guy was building greenhouses, but I think your design would actually be more useful for me.

    How many chickens do you keep in each pen? I’m thinking of doing some meat birds for ourselves and the neighbors… maybe some quail down the road. These breeding pens look like they would be excellent for both raising a meat breed over the summer, and then moving them over the garden beds to extend the growing season as fall approaches.

    Thanks for the info!

    • James Trundy Verrill April 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm #


      Will get back to you soon (tomorrow?) w/ more information and answer your questions.. they are very versatile …….

      • James Trundy Verrill April 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm #


        How many chickens do you keep in each pen?

        ******* This depends on size. The 4×12 that we did last weekend will house 36 YOUNG Icelandics as they grow. The 4×6 breeding pens we use for trios/quads and on occasion for 6 hens and a cock.

        The 12×12 garden hoop house winter 40-50 birds .


        I’m thinking of doing some meat birds for ourselves and the neighbors… maybe some quail down the road.

        You would want to do a frame base like we did on the breeding pens and raised garden beds…. rather than the platform like we used last weekend. We built the platform intending to build a coop.. changes plans and hooped it


        These breeding pens look like they would be excellent for both raising a meat breed over the summer, and then moving them over the garden beds to extend the growing season as fall approaches.

        ******* They are versatile enough so you can use the concept to meet your purpose and needs. Basically you are looking for a Chicken Tractor…..how ever you design it.

        Thanks for the info!

  7. The Yakimabelle June 19, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    How do you keep raccoons from breaking through the chicken wire? We have to use expensive hardware cloth out here to keep them out?

    • James T Verrill June 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      Yes, you would want to modify the wire used depending on the predators you have to deal with!

  8. Frank September 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    I made 2 mods to your original design. Since schedule 40 pvc is not UV treated I used the grey 3/4″ schedule 40 fro the electrical department. This is designed to be used in direct sunlight and it is just a few pennies more.

    I used 12′ sides but expended the width to 5′. This gives me a grow out pen that can be expanded to 60sqft as they get larger, 2 segregation pens at 30sqft and four breeding pens 15sqft each. 5sqft is more than adequate for 3 birds. The first cost savings occurs with shared feeders and waters. The 12’X5′ pen comes in at about $125. The second and most significant cost savings is when dividing the large pen into four breeding pens at just at less than $50.00 each. ANd because I live in TX where every bug know to mankind that loves to eat wood exists, I used treated wood approved for ground contact.

    • James T Verrill September 3, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      Thanks Frank for your update — all ideas can be improved once a different person looks at them from a different perspective and with a different set of eyes!

      Glad my idea could be the seed for your project.

  9. J. Rodrick October 12, 2020 at 1:55 am #

    Beautifully crafted . . . Love the K.I.S. applied. How many chickens will each of the 4’×6′ house?

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