plastics for outdoor chicken coops

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, May 15, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    A couple of years ago I built some amazing portable chicken coops out of PVC pipe. Lightweight and easy to clean. If it weren't for the winter and UV rays, I hoped to get decades of use out of them. But now they are worthless.

    Now I'm rethinking everything and trying to come up with a new strategy.

    Are there plastics that will hold up well with the cold and the sun?
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    They make UV resistant PVC, but it costs alot more. I'm not sure how much life the UV resistance really gives it though.

    Jena
     

  3. evilbunny

    evilbunny Well-Known Member

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    I am assuming you just need a rigid piece to make the frame. I have been considering using rebar. Although I was recently given a bunch of 2x4's. I cant decide which to use.
     
  4. Stillponds

    Stillponds Active Member

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    PVC rigid electrical conduit is sunlight resistant. It is inexpensive and can be had at any electrical supply house or building supply center. Will last for many years when exposed to sunlight.
     
  5. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    The first chicken tractor I built was framed with wood, mostly 2x2 if I recall correctly. We also used hardware cloth for the wire, instead of chicken wire, because of predator problems. It was too heavy for me to move alone, though quite durable.

    I just finished a chicken tractor built of PVC pipe, and have been concerned about how long it would last. It is easy for me to move by myself, though. It does have a silvered plastic tarp over the whole thing, and I am hoping that will preserve the PVC a little longer. I have to build at least two more tractors within the next month or so (to split my growing chicks out) and have been trying to figure out what to build them out of, so will be watching this thread with interest for more good ideas.

    Kathleen
     
  6. ozarkyehti

    ozarkyehti Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if this is cost effective or not but,

    Could you cover the PVC piping with say black electricl tape or maybe duct tape? Would that cut down on the UV problem?
     
  7. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I'm told that UV is not the only problem. Cold is another problem. So when the cages sit idle over the winter, cold somehow makes them more brittle the following spring.

    Currently, I'm thinking along the lines of taking cattle panels and bending them into a shallow hoop-like thing.
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I use hog panels to make my chicken tractors. Three hog panels, four 2x4's, a bunch of plastic ties and one tarp. I can build them in little time, easy to move, cheap and I don't have chickens getting stuck when I move them.

    Jena
     
  9. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jena, can you provide pics or directions/plans?
     
  10. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    Yeah Jena, a pic would be great!
     
  11. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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    Like Stillponds said electrical conduit is UV stabilized. I've used it for hi-tensile fence posts, some have been in the ground for 5 years now and still aren't brittle.
     
  12. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Here's some pictures:

    http://www.pbase.com/jenamartin/pasture_chickens

    I make the pens by cutting two hog panels in half. You end up with two pieces that are 11 squares long and two pieces that are 12 squares long.

    Staple the 11 square pieces to a 2x4 for a skid. Make sure you get the hog panel sitting so that the horizontal wires are against the 2x4.

    Take your other pieces and hook them to the ones with skids to form a square. I use plastic ties to hook them together, but you can use hog rings, wire or whatever.

    Take two 2x4's and put them across the top going the same way as your skids. Since those sides are just short of 8', a regular 8' 2x4 fits just right. I attach the 2x4's with bale string, lashing the boards to the hog panels so they cannot slide around.

    Cut another hog panel in half. Take the 12 square long piece and lay it across the 2x4's to make a roof. Attach it with whatever you choose to use. I use plastic ties again. Make sure you get it tight on the sides. You want it to bend a bit to help the tarp shed water.

    Attach a tarp down the back and over the roof. My pictures are from when I had chickens out in March, so I had my tarps down low to keep the wind out. Now that it is warmer, I need to move them up so that the birds get a breeze underneath.

    I make a lid with the remaining piece of hog panel. I leave the extra ends on it, lay it across the top and loosely attach it with plastic ties just to the front of the pen. I can lift the lid and swing it over to open the pen to fill feeders, etc.

    I use hanging feeders which I tie onto the roof 2x4's. I use Plasson waterers which I also tie onto the 2x4. Before I set up my automatic watering deal, I used regular poultry waterers that I lifted in and out. The waterers are all connected by 1/4 inch tubing, which connects to a hose coming out of my water tank. When I move the pens, I shut the tank off, disconnect the waterers and move the pens. I have to move my wagon every few days to keep up with the pens when I'm on flat ground. When the tank is on a hill, I can just stretch the hose out to the pens.

    I would like to find a better way to fill my feeders. At this point, I lift a bucket into the pen, then climb in to fill them. One day I will fall and all that will be found is bones after those hungry birds get done with me! I keep the feeders towards the back to prevent rain from getting into the feed and ruining it.

    These pens are not predator proof, but I put electric net around all my pens. I have not had any predator problems at all. If you want to make it more predator proof, you could add chicken wire over the hog panels or run a hot wire around it.

    Jena