Finisher Hoop House

Warm and Cozy

This year we built a hoop house for the finisher pigs much along the design of what we have for the chicken greenhouse.

Attaching Cattle Panel to Knee Walls/i>

Essentially it is a knee wall of pallets and plywood scraps with stock panel arched over it. To cover it we simply laid on translucent plastic we had on hand. It won’t last but it was free.

Front Half Wall

Even with the half open front and open slat work of the pallets it stayed toasty warm inside the front hoop house all winter. The pigs loved it.

Hay Shelf

We had made a shelf in the back for hay which we were able to load from the outside on the north end and then tuck the plastic back down again. This was only a marginally idea. The humidity in the hoop house was quite high so the hay got moist. Had it been unused in there for a long period I would have worried about the bales molding.

We ended up not storing hay in there for that reason although we continued to use that end for introducing new hay, even big 4’x4′ bales as show in the first photo. Also in that image you can see straight through to the blue north sky because as the weather warmed we left the back end open for ventilation.

The structure faired well through our heavy snows although we did need to keep an eye on it because the snow load built up unevenly since there was stuff on the west side. The knee walls are critical so there is somewhere for the snow to go. For larger structures I would like a ridge pole and side ridge poles or perhaps make trusses out of doubled panels. One can not count on the snow to shed. Sometimes we can get 40″ of snow all in a night and it is not acceptable for that to collapse on the animals. Ideally I would love to use the twin-wall glazing which has significant structural strength and lasts a long time but that is a bit dear. Someday.

Now that it is spring (theoretically speaking since we still have several feet of snow) I am looking forward to using some of these greenhouses for plants which will get the benefit of them over the summer. In the past I have gotten peppers and watermelons to grow in our cold zone 3 climate by doing them inside shelters like this and the house end shed which is also glazed.

It is amazing how warm the hoop house was, even when it was in the negative teens and extremely windy. Will and I have also been talking about how to use the high heat and humidity of the poultry and pig greenhouses for plants to gain year round growing.

One idea is to build a double layered greenhouse. The outer greenhouse is for animals and the inner one is for plants. This way we would have a heated greenhouse without having to use wood, propane, electric or any other fuel. Just the heat of the decomposition of the bedding and the animals would warm the inner greenhouse.

We might even triple the greenhouse up so the bigger animals are in the outer ring, the smaller animals like chicks and piglets are in the middle greenhouse and then the plants get the inner most greenhouse.

An improvement on that idea is to lay drain tubes that would drain the animal bedding areas while warming incoming air. The warmed air could come up by the piglet creeps to give them a little boost.

So many ideas, so little time…

Outdoors: 46°F/24°F Almost Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/61°F Windows open some, Weeks without fire – love that Sun!

Daily Spark: “Children who were breast-fed exclusively for the first three months of life or longer scored nearly six points higher on IQ tests at the age of 6 than children who weren’t breast-fed exclusively, a new study has found.”HealthDay News We’re shooting for IQ’s of 300… :)

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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10 Responses to Finisher Hoop House

  1. Michaele says:

    Really excellent ideas! What do you do with the waste bedding?

  2. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Walter, consider old English winter housing for greenhouse solutions. They killed and preserved all but their breeding stock, then bedded those in relatively immobile nests with access to fork or hand down feed. The humans’ floor planks went above the amimals, and the body heat of the stock and their composting end products warmed the winter quarters for the humans. Smelly but effective! Pigs could be comfortable with a lot less head height than people, and the plant supporting floor need not be very high tech. So stub walls, maybe four feet high, with inner edge cutouts for planking, earth floors, and the bedding and waste feed would be fine substrate for plants after the porkers are evicted in the

    • Excellent idea. I’ve read about that type of livestock / people housing and we are thinking that the greenhouse portion will likely be raised beds. Years ago we had a greenhouse that had rabbits under the raised beds. It was great. Rabbits were our first livestock here at Sugar Mountain.

  3. Julie says:

    We built something similar for our woodshed that unfortunately collapsed with the snow load this year. I am glad to see that did not happen for you. We are thinking a ridge pole is the way we will go as we rebuild.

    • I’ve played with a lot of designs, many on paper and a few in the gardens, and I like the ridge poles. I didn’t do that this time but it was a close thing in one snow storm. A T-ridge pole which has two side extensions at slightly lower heights to follow the curves is really good. Then depending on the strength of the arc and the size one could add more supports all coming to the center pole. This is similar to how we did the temporary trusses when we did the barrel vault of our cottage. They held up several thousand pounds of wet concrete while it cured. That’s a load off my mind!

  4. Nance says:

    Walter, I so agree . . . so many ideas and so little time. My ideas, I’m sure, are smaller and less cutting edge than yours. but still, to me, they are there in my brain . . . egging me on. I like your double/triple green house idea. I’m trying to talk my husband into building a chicken coop above a compost area. We live in a town of less than 20,000 and it is legal to keep a few chicks, I think. Anyway, people do. I have just the spot for a coop. The chickens’ droppings would heat up the compost pile and I would have “country” eggs every day. I just don’t see the down size of this scenerio, attall.

  5. Glenn Warren says:

    Years ago while doing engineering design for waste water treatment plants, we designed several waste heat recovery systems for forced aeration sludge composting systems. The general design concept was a perforated 4″ pipe under a windrow compost pile; this was connected to the suction side of a blower (controlled with a thermistor mounted at the end of a long probe that could be placed into the pile). The blower then pushed the hot humid air through an air to air heat exchanger. The concept generated significant continuous BTUs when operating and had a much shorter economic payback than solar collectors (for example). You could probably reduce the power requirement by using a tall stack (maybe a use for the old house’s chimney?) and a motorized damper…

  6. Brian says:

    Funny how I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea on my mind for a cattle-panel, plastic covered, hoophouse to overwinter the laying flock chickens, et viola!, Mr. Jeffries has already tried out all my ideas and discarded the bad ones. Eggcellent.

  7. Farmerbob1 says:

    Now that your butcher shop is nearing an operational state, I’m curious if there are plans to create permanent concrete pig-housing and winter farrowing locations?

    Especially with the comment above by Mr. Sutton. A sturdy concrete low first floor for pigs on top of a greenhouse? At the end of the growing season, just drop the plants and dirt through the waste holes in the greenhouse floor and the pigs will process it into next year’s soil :P

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