Old Paths Homestead - raising Nubian goats and meat rabbits in Oklahoma

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Hoop house - alternative shelter idea

Since my passions are often driven by my excitement first and rational introduced later in the game, I found myself with more goats one year than I had adequate space for. Growing our herd is one of the most enjoyable aspects of goat keeping, yet, it does require planning and constant revisiting of our goals and set up. I hope to dig up photos of what we started with and where we are today with our barn and goat areas ... including the improvements we have made, but today I want to share a hoophouse structure as a quick and inexpensive idea to provide temporary or permanent housing for your critters. The thing I like the most is that it does not raise our annual property tax :)
Here is a shot from two summers ago. Ours was made of 6 16' cattle panels, held in place by T-posts staked on the outside of the panel arch. The panels overlap and are secured together the entire width of the panels, then attached again to the t-posts on the bottom. The idea of this whole prop popping up into the air had me nervous when we first built it, hence measures that are likely over the top. This can be set up with two adults, I builts ours with my two children, and while it was a bit stressful getting the panels to bend and stay in place, we made it work.  I recommend putting your t-posts in prior to inserting the panels, that way they stay in place with minimal effort to secure them and the attachments can be reinforced later when the entire hoop house is up. 
This one served us well during winter and early spring kidding season (especially since my living room window provides a direct view of the front opening so monitoring does in labor was a breeze), also as a housing for our kid crop, though we open up both ends once the temperatures get high to allow air flow. In summer it was mostly used as a shelter from rain, as the does chose to lounge elsewhere, the hoop house does get hot. It lasted two years (we did replace the tarp once, more accurately, we layered more tarps on top of the original ones as the threads in the plastic tarp wore out), we just recently took the structure down but left the t-posts in place to erect it again when kids start arriving. That is another nice thing about the hoophouse, you can easily take it down altogether and rotate its location or keep the posts in place to rebuilt later. We plan to use a canvas tarp this time around over the plastic one and I will report later how we like it compared to the plastic by itself.
Just to add that the inside of the hoophouse floor was lined with wooden pallets toward the back and served as storage for grass hay during winter, even while some bred does were inside - free choice hay access. It was also lined with feeders (yes, a wooden pallet propped against the wall ) to feed alfalfa hay (to kids) and hook over feeders for alfalfa pellets so the does had access to food in bad weather.  While most of my feeders are outside and our herd eats outside most of the year, I like to have inside feeders in case of long rain spell or winter storm. We kept two buckets set in old tires to keep them from spilling.
A word of caution about these structures though - the goats do tend to eat/nibble the tarp (some more than others, our bucks were very hard on the hoophouse and destroyed most of my original tarp) so securing it well helps. Young kids past certain age and adventurous yearlings like to climb up on the structure and I had several panic moments watching a goat or two rock themselves on the top or youngsters catapulting themselved off the sides.
In the photo you only see the t-posts, these were later lined with cattle palens on each side, preventing the animals from climbing on the structure. If I were to choose the perfect location, I would place the opening of the hoop house at the outside of the pen and make it stick out the entire lenght of the hoop house, this way they only have access to the entrace, not the sides. In our case I cannot do this since the goat pens are backed into an easement which needs to remain accessible by our electric company, but I am considering placing it at the front of the goat pen - make it appear as a tunnel leading into the pen itself. This way the hoop house can still be facing the house (which I love for easy monitoring of the activities inside, plus it is also facing east = away from prevailing winds), yet outside of the actual pen. If we go this direction I will post the results later.    

19 Comments to Hoop house - alternative shelter idea:

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Deb Goodwin Potter on Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:25 PM
I use the heavy green tarps up here in snowy cold country. Also put plywood on top of pallets to make a raised, dry floor. In the winter we put a round bale in one end with a section of cattle panel to the inside and a sheet of plywood to the outside. Then do a draw string type tie down that keeps the weather off of the hay.
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Deb Goodwin Potter on Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:27 PM
PS- I have done these entirely by my self. The one that is up now uses 5 panels.

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Jana on Sunday, January 22, 2012 10:09 AM
Deb, thanks for great input on using these in different climate - kuddos to you for being such a trooper, I can see how it could be a one man job with posts in place first, glad to know it can be done.
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Carla Hopton on Tuesday, January 01, 2013 10:01 PM
My friend directed me to this post because I live in a flood zone. My aunt recently past away and she housed my goats during the time we were flooded out. I'm not sure if her farm will still be open to me. My friend suggested this in case I couldn't find a barn/stall to rent in the future but she said perhaps I could rent a field for a couple of days and utilize this concept. My question is how long are the t-post that you used? I plan on creating this for my goats ASAP where they go and out of the barn is messy and muddy. This also could provide some more shade. If it doesn't work out at least I'll have it in case of an emergency and have to temporarily re-locate them.
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