This past weekend, we built Sugar River Farm's inaugural pastured pig hut and it went remarkably well. Since I've never really tried my hand at construction, I'm really excited about how it went. We spent just under $50 and the project took us about 90 minutes (most of which were lessons in power tools for me) but for one who is more well versed in building things, I wouldn't be surprised if this could be done in 30 minutes or so.
Here's what we picked up on our trip to the local big box store.
6 each 8 ft 2 x 4 boards (not pressure treated)
1 each 12 ft 2 x 4 board (not pressure treated)
4 each 26 in x 8ft Green PVC Corrugated Roof Panel
1 each Tube of Caulking
You'll also need screws, but we had some kicking around.
Two things I'd like to mention:
I noted above that the boards we bought were not pressure treated mainly to be clear regarding how we got all our materials for under $50. In our case, the pressure treated boards were more expensive than the non and there was also a concern, on my part, that it might not be good for pigs to chew on pressure treated wood. Please don't take my notion as fact.
The PVC roofing panels we got were on clearance. I have a feeling they may be discontinuing them soon, so hopefully we'll be able to find more in the future.
Take one 8' board and cut it in half. Take one end of each now 4' board and miter it, resulting in a 45* angle. Take the two boards and connect the non-angled ends to form a 90* angle, one on top of the other, and screw together.
Feel free to learn from my mistake. Make sure you don't do what we did here. The angles at the bottom of the boards are both supposed to be flat against the ground.
This is what the finished piece should look like. You'll need to make three of these 90* pieces.
Next, take one of the remaining three 8' boards and screw it to the three 90* pieces, all spaced out evenly.
After you've connected the three angled pieces to the first 8' board, screw the other two 8' boards to the exposed angled ends, creating a solid bottom.
See, now it's stable.
At this point, you'll take the remaining 12' board and cut it into two sills that you'll screw to the bottom of the two 8' boards, creating two door thresholds of sorts. You could use two 6' boards, but in our case it was cheaper to get a 12' board. When we were conceptualizing this project, we weren't sure of the need for this step, but we ended up going with it. This step made the hut, which seemed a little short, just a bit taller and it lifted the 8' boards off the ground, which is always nice. We all know what happens when wood sits in mud for extended periods of time.
The final step is to wrap the top with the roofing panels. This step would be the same even if you used metal panels, but the pricing on the plastic was great and it doesn't weigh very much. That will be handy when it comes time to move the huts. We attached the panels with screws and filled any gaps and screw holes with caulking.
The final result is an easy to move, easy to build, inexpensive pig hut. We're anticipating having to build a few more since they're not very tall and will quickly be outgrown by our small herd (who are coming in about a month yay!!). We plan to use these huts in conjunction with free ranging the pigs through wooded areas and pasture. There is a concern that the pigs may destroy this since it is fairly lightweight, but we'll see. I think this will suit our needs for now.
One thing I definitely need to do is broaden my horizons on what other methods are out there for animal shelters, among other things. The Polyface internship will definitely open my eyes (only a few more months!) but I also enjoy going through other blogs here on MOTHER EARTH NEWS to get tips from all of you. If you have any tips on methods you've used that have or haven't worked, I'd love to hear about them!
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