Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Building Livestock Housing Out of Scrap

We wanted livestock on our smallholding, but, where possible, we didn't want to spend out on expensive livestock housing, so we decided to build this ourselves out of scrap.  As a result, both the geese and the sheep have housing/shelters of a similar and (very basic) design. 

The goose house needed to be secure, so that foxes couldn't attack the geese at night.  It also needed to provide plenty of ventilation and protect the geese's straw from wet weather (the geese themselves are hardy enough and could be out in all weathers - if it was safe enough - but the straw mustn't get damp, because mouldy straw can cause illness in geese).  The goose house is also a favourite nesting place for the geese, so in late spring at least one broody goose can be in there twenty four hours a day.  Because of this, the door has to be able to stay open from the morning until we drive them all in at night.

The Goose House

At the time we built the house, we were fortunate to have access to plenty of wooden pallets (in fact, we were being paid to take them away), so we've used these for the core structure of the house.  The house easily shelters 4-5 large geese (plus any large nest) and is 7ft 10 inches (2.41 metres) in length, 4 ft 9 inches (1.47 metres) in depth and 5ft 5inches (1.67 metres) in height (which is 10 pallets).  We then used corrugated iron over the pallets which we had kept from our old (demolished) barn, with the last few inches under the roof uncovered for ventilation. The struts under the roof are pieces of an old pergola David had taken down for someone.  For the floor inside, raised from the ground to avoid damp, we have a sheet of OSB board, which we cover with a thick layer of straw (and which can be scrubbed with animal-friendly disinfectant when the house is cleaned out).  The door is a modified fence panel that shuts securely.  The house is painted in black barn paint.

The sheep shelter is just the same, but larger and longer with an open front.  The sheep wander in there when it rains or snows or they sometimes disappear in there for shade in hot weather.  As we only have three wethers and don't get involved in lambing, we don't need a lambing shed - and our sheep are outside all year round.  The shelter has a small pen in front, so we steer them in there when we want to shear them or give them health checks and treatment.

The chicken house, though, is the exception to this, as here we did spend out to have one made by a village carpentry business.  We submitted a design to them for a raised house, including lay boxes, with a ramp leading down to into a large pen. After this summer's attack by a fox, the chickens are now kept in the pen when we're not able to keep on eye on them.  Otherwise they're let outside.  The pen has a roof, which the chickens have certainly appreciated in this summer's wet weather and we regularly mulch the ground.  The raised house, and the roof, also provide shade in the pen.  We use sawdust (also from the carpentry business!) for the floor in the house and for the lay boxes.

The Chicken House

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