Field Creep Housing

Animal House – Tank Bottom

It is handy to have easily moveable houses out in the fields for small animals. We have made a number of sow huts (not so easily moved) and piglet huts out of old broken water tanks.

How the Other Half Lives – Tank Top

Sixty-five gallon barrels work for the smallest piglets and as good spots for a chicken to hatch a clutch of eggs. However, the piglets quickly outgrow those small houses.

Hut Made from a Round 725g tank

This summer we needed a couple more but didn’t have another dead tank to use. We wanted something larger than the barrels. Our local barrel man who sells food grade recycled containers has some 275 gallon tanks that come in steel cages. Perfect!

Once removed from the cage the poly tank got split in half, a door added and hot wires to convince the sows that these were “No Touch” items. Piglets are then able to have a safe shaded spot where they can gather, party and plot the overthrow of the world. The door allowed us to lock them in when needed. The whole hut is a creep letting us give the piglets things like boiled eggs.

The top half of the tank has a inflow hole that acts to ventilate it and the bottom half has the old valve position.

In addition to being used by the piglets various poultry often use these shelters out in the fields. They are light weight and easy to move around.

Free Hay Feeder with Every Purchase

As an extra benny the metal cage that comes with the tank can be used as a hay feeder and there is a ‘free’ valve on the tank that can be used for water and whey lines.

Simple recycling and repurposing.

Outdoors: 57°F/55°F 2″ Rain, 2″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/60°F

Daily Spark: Someone once asked Albert Einstein how many feet were in a mile. “I don’t know,” he replied, “Why should I fill my head with things like that when I could look them up in any reference book in two minutes?” -Anon

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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9 Responses to Field Creep Housing

  1. Catherine says:

    Hi Walter-

    I am a small breeder in Virginia and have been at this for about three years. I have one Old Spot boar and 9 sows of different breeds. My sows typically have litters of 8-14. My question is regarding a Tamworth x Old Spot sow. She just had her first litter and there were only two piglets. I purchased her as a one year old gilt about four months ago. She was and is in very good health. I purchased her along with 2 others from the same farm. Her half sister (a full Old Spot, same age) just farrowed and had a litter of 9. I am expecting a litter from her full sister any day. So, I reckon my question is why do you think she had such a small litter (she looked just as pregnant as the others, was on the same pasture/wood lot, fed same organic feed)? Should I cull her now or give her another opportunity to have a larger litter?
    Thank you for your wealth of knowledge! I am a subscriber.

    • There are many things that can cause a small litter. If they bred when the boar had a cold or it was hot either of those can cause a decrease in the boar’s sperm count. If the sow got stressed or poor diet she might not implant the fertilized eggs or might not carry them all to term. There are also many diseases that can reduce litter counts, cause mummification and stillborn piglets.

      So what to do from here. At this point in our climate she would be having her next litter in the dead of winter which is not a good time so if I had the market for the meat, which I do, then I would slaughter her after bringing her back to condition. I would probably move her piglets to another sow after four or five days so that she can wean and recondition faster. However, you are in a warmer climate so you might want to try her again. If she doesn’t perform after two chances though I would cull her to meat. Sows are delicious. Well conditioned they are nicely marbled.

  2. Sharon says:

    I’ve been looking to buy some of those to save rainwater, but they go for ~$150 around here. Good idea about the hay rack, though, at least that’s free :) Might make it worthwhile to get one

  3. Dan Moore says:

    I really like your solution here. I don’t know why but its adding the door that really puts it over the top for me. In doing something like this I would have been in hack job mode and simply cut a hole for ingress/egress. By taking a bit of extra timespan and finishing this thing off you have a very practical and useful mobile house. Now I just need to find a source for these containers. Any suggestions on where to look for a hookup besides Craigslist? I can get non-food grade easily but I don’t want them. I’ve yet to meet a friend who has access to food grade containers.

    Btw, I am slowly building my own farm blog. You are my role model.

    • Around these parts there are a number of people who trade in used containers. Look in the local classified ads. The Barrel Man a.k.a. Charlie Hall who we get ours from in West Topsham deals only in clean food grade containers. Be picky.

  4. Pam R. says:

    We have one of these tanks, a food grade one, that we use to get water to the cows in a distant pasture. (We are flatlanders here with no springs…) I think we got ours for $75.

    This is a real good re-purposing of all the components. As always, impressed with the resourcefulness you draw on, Walter.

  5. Sally Hurst says:

    I have several plastic 55 gal barrels, originally used to import olives, that I use for feed. I especially like the one with the screw-on top. I’ve used them to transport water in emergency situations.

    I feed round bales to a goat/sheep/donkey flerd. I don’t have a tractor, so I roll the round bale into the barn, stand it on on flat end, unwrap the strings and any bad hay, and wrap it with a cattle panel (ends tied together.) The panel keeps goats from climbing on and ruining the hay, any uneaten hay becomes bedding, and, because the “feeder” is a circle, no one bossy animal can defend it. I do have one string (baling twine) attaching the circled panel to the rafters so that the donkey can’t push it all the way over (and accidentally hurt goats) in a bid to get to the last little bit of hay.

  6. Lane Nevins says:

    Hi Walter, I had a question about pig housing. We have several hogs that we rotate on pasture using a simple three-sided wooden structure on runners that we drag around to each pasture after moving the pigs. This system feels a bit ocwerd at times, what do you do for pig housing out on the range?

    Thanks much, love your site!

    • In the warm months the pigs aren’t interested in housing as they prefer sleeping out in the pastures either in the sun, under the stars or in the shade of brush and trees. When they do want shelter they tend towards denser brush and conifer trees which tend to shed the water far from the base of the tree.

      In the winter we have used a number of open sheds and open greenhouses. These become snow bound, much like igloos benefiting from the insulating value of the white covering.

      Ideally I would like to setup some large greenhouses that would extend our fall through the winter but the pigs do very well even on the snow, often preferring to sleep out under the sky even when they have roofs available. Their key preferences are protection from the wind and deep dry composting bedding as we get into winter.

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