Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Raising the Roof

I'm 5'9" and with my usual topknot, too tall to stand up straight if I run netting straight across the 6' kennel panels that make up our three 30' chicken/duck runs. Our more adventurous chickens have taken to exploring during the day which doesn't' really bother me.  My better half however is not a fan of the unsupervised free-ranging.  So my super sweet hubbie re-designed the netting system for my birthday and it's awesome.  

The original idea was to use a kennel roof and cover kit in the center of the run to keep the netting raised up above the rest of the frames.  I need would need three, one for each sectioned run which would be over $300 without the netting and wind could be an issue.  

The second idea was to use fence clamps to bend 12' lengths of PVC over each of the three sections to achieve a "hoop" (similar to this) that I could then drape a garden netting over. The longest length of PVC my local Lowe's carries is 10'.   The garden netting that I intended on reusing was too narrow and inflexible to stretch across the 10' length between kennel panels.  Without an arch in the horizontal PVC pieces, the heavier weight caused the netting to sag below the 6' panels.

Our final solution was a more substantial, husband-designed PVC frame with a lighter weight netting. The framing cost us around $80.  The new netting brought the project total up to $110, almost a third of what the original idea would have cost. 

This is how we constructed the frame:
  1. Connected the fence clamps to the kennel frame and installed 1' PVC pieces vertically.
  2. Joined a PVC elbow to the vertical 1' pieces and ran 10' PVC pieces horizontally across the sectioned run to another elbow and 1' vertical piece of PVC installed with a fence clamp.
  3. Stretched new 7' x 100' netting/rolle fencing over the entire frame running the 30' length of each section, We overlapped in the netting in center and used zip ties to secure the netting to the PVC frame. Around the edges of the kennel panels, we attached the netting directly to the chain link fencing.    

Not only is this new framing system more sturdy than my hoop idea, it adds over a foot in height to the runs. We used three instead of four frames because we didn't need the height over the lower coop and the larger coop is taller than the frames anyway.  We ran the netting over both coops and connected it directly to the chain link fence.  The new system contains the chickens, deters predators but most importantly, I can stand up in the run!  It doesn't hurt that keeps my messy bun from becoming a complete nightmare. 

Update:  We recently had an ice storm and although the lightweight netting sagged under the pressure of all the ice, the frames held strong and the netting bounced back into place after all the ice melted.  We have one more section to complete and then it's time to make sew some grass and make some upgrades to the coops! 

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