Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portable Pig Housing!

For some reason, buying 4 piglets yesterday made buying a farm seem REAL.  I don't have the pigs yet, or the chickens that I ordered, but I spent all night designing a portable pig shelter for my new piggies and when I woke up this morning, I got into the truck and went to home depot.  Oh yes - it's real.

I had a lot of requirements for this shelter:
1.)  It had to provide a shady and/or dry spot for 4 growing pigs
2.)  It had to be movable***.  The pigs will be raised on electric fencing in the pasture (and during the hot months in the woods), so it had to move easily and be small enough to fit in some of our more thickly wooded areas (taking down lots of trees probably won't happen this season).
***Movable means that my 5', 115 pound body needed to be able to carry it ALONE.
3.) It had to fit in my truck, so that I can build it at my parents house and easily move it to the farm the day of the closing.
4.) It had to fit within my budget.  Originally I had hoped to find a port-o-hut used somewhere (they run $400-600 new).  Then I had lots of other ideas in between.  I budgeted $200 for pig housing, but hoped to stay way under that.  I'm finding that I've FORGOTTEN a lot of things in my budget, which is causing it to creep up into the "unaffordable" category.  But that's a problem for another day.

I should also mention that I'm really good at having ideas in my head and then not being able to adequately describe them, or turn them into real life.  And then I get frustrated.  So I decided just go for it (no designs or pictures, to the chagrin of my engineer father) and not worry about making it look like it did in my head.  Just get it done.

(Not all of the supplies in that picture are for the pig hut.  I also bought all of the materials needed to build a chick brooder, but both of the drill batteries died.  I guess that'll be tomorrow's project!)

So here's what I bought at Home Depot to construct the portable hut:
1. 5 (2x3x8) foot premium wood strips @$1.93...........................................$9.65
2. 3" deckmate screws (1 lb, but didn't use even half)..................................$9.37
3. 4" corner braces (2-2packs @ $2.87 each)...............................................$5.74
4. 2 (42" x 84") remesh sheets @ $7.25 each...............................................$14.50

Subtotal = about $41.00 with tax.  I still need to pick up a tarp to stretch over the top (which I plan to attach with zip ties), so all in all it cost about $50.00 and took about an hour to build with help from my mom (well, plus the time it took me to go back to the hardware store and get different sized screws...sigh).

To build the structure, first I cut one of the strips of wood in 1/2, to make 2 - 4' pieces.  Next, I laid the frame out in the driveway so that the remesh lay flat on the ground (side by side) and a piece of 8' wood strip was underneath each side.  I used a nail gun to tack them down, then placed a second piece of 8' wood strip on top and screwed them together.

So, lying flat on the ground was a remesh sandwich, with 2 8' wood strips on either end.

Now's probably a good time to call a friend for help.

The two of us arched the structure to form a hoop-house design and then held it in place while we screwed the two 4' sections on either end.  I reinforced the frame by attaching corner braces to the insides.

All I need to do is stretch a tarp over the top and the pigs will call it home sweet home!

A few notes about the project:

~I put the final structure on top of my mom's 4'x8' raised bed just to get it out of the way.  Covered in greenhouse plastic, it would make a great little hoop house for season extension in the garden.

~When I went to the store I fully intended to buy a 100' roll of welded wire mesh (used for pouring concrete).  It's a deal at only $109 for a 6' tall roll.  I planned to use what I needed for the hut and use the rest to make bean trellises and tomato cages.  I even picked out the right gloves and wire cutter.  And then I realized there was no way in hell I could lift the roll.  Ever.  BUT if you have a helper or enormous muscles, I would definitely recommend it.

~I have to idea how well this will hold up.  I did design it so that I can reinforce it with rebar during windy weather, but I wanted the flexibility to move it daily so that the pigs are not compacting the soil.  I think it will work well while they are piglets, but I'll be interested to see how well it holds up when one of the BIG pigs gets an itch.  Or sits on it.  For $50 it's worth a shot, and I'll keep you updated.

~I also plan to paint the wood so that it lasts a little longer, but I'm waiting until I've finished the brooder.  I like to group my painting projects together so I don't have to wash the brushes as often (or get paint on every outfit I own).

Can't wait to post pictures of the portable pig hut in action!


  1. I LOVE it!!! The remesh sheet is an awesome idea! I've always planned on making something like this for my livestock when summer time comes and I need to move everyone, but I figured I would have to buy a livestock panel, which runs for at least $30 at my feedstore... Eek! But the remesh sheet is a great idea! Thou hast inspired me. ;)

    1. :-) that's wonderful! can't wait to see your IMPROVED design!