Monday, May 24, 2010

Hog Hooch (Cattle Panel Hoop House)

This is the hog hooch that we built, out of cattle panels and other good stuff, on one of the windiest New Mexico weekends in the history of windy New Mexico weekends since the dawn of time, where grit filled our noses and our eyes, dirt was eaten, and the recycled CITGO billboard/tarp nearly blew away and carried us over the mountain tops in a real balloon boy incident.

Large Black Hog sow Prudence took one look at this beautiful hog hooch, specially designed for her and her offspring, and proceeded to take a couple of snaggle toothed tastes out of the front door, charming porcine.   If I didn't love her so much and she weren't so full of piglets, I might have been tempted to make sausage out of her when she was dragging her teeth across that nice green paint. We did protect the sides with cattle panels.

We learned so much about how to build one of these cattle panel hoop houses for our Large Black Hogs from looking at the blogs and websites of other small farmers, none of which really had complete plans, but provided us with several good ideas from the photos and descriptions.  So, to reciprocate, and say a big thank you to all of you who are so generous to share your ideas about livestock housing, here are the photos of the hoop house we built for our hogs in its various stages of construction. 

My husband, who can build anything, says he really just made this up as he was going along, so I don't have any plans.  We got the billboard tarp from the Billboard Tarp Warehouse online.   This hog hooch is 3 panels long, about 13' long, and approximately 8 ' wide.  We've got it tied down with t-posts driven 2' into the ground (the one we built for the chickens withstood the 70 MPH windstorm we had recently) and snugged down with ratchet straps across the top, which really make this thing solid.  We'd guesstimate the total cost of construction to be approximately $300.

We secured every loose end of tarp fabric and finished it up as the sun was setting last night, utterly exhausted, wind blown, and bleary eyed.  There was much complaining this morning about aching muscles and middle aged bones.  I am hoping that the hogs haven't devoured it by the end of the day. 


  1. Thanks for making the hog paneled hoop house available; great pictures. I was wondering if you have had any problems with the hogs pushing against the sides and causing damage to the structure, how hot it gets in the summer and winter, and whether you get any condensation.

  2. This hoop house has stood up very well - both to weather and hogs. We have had some enormous snowfalls, and the roof has held. No problems there. I did knock the snow off with a broom each morning, but woke up several times to find quite a load of snow on the roof. The hogs have nibbled and chewed at the corners of the house, so the tarp is getting a little damaged on those edges from curious pigs. But, because we kept the tarp pretty tight, they can only nibble, not really get a good hold on the tar and start ripping. Originally, I had a 16-foot cattle panel on each long side to protect the tarp, but then we needed cattle panels for some fencing patches, so I robbed those from the sides of the hoop house and didn't replace. I would recommend putting those panels on the outside. The only other damage we've had is from when the wind blows and the panels move a little. Then the friction from the panels has rubbed a few spots on the tarp. But only a few in all these years, and I've repaired with duct tape. The rachet straps my husband used to tie it down have helped a lot, I think. I suspect that we'll put a new tarp on it before next winter, although it actually has held up quite well - especially to our 700+ pound boar. He spent a considerable amount of time this summer lounging against the cattle panel sides, sleeping away the days, and, even though I thought for sure he'd be the one to destroy it, it held up to him. I think the fact that this house has stood up to our boar says a lot!

    I think I have a link from the hoop house post on my blog to the online store where we purchased our first billboard to use as a cover. Later, I discovered that those billboard companies will give those away to you for free, which is of course much better! You just have to find out who is doing the billboard ads in your area.

    In terms of insulation, we had a few nights a couple of years ago when it was almost 30 below. One really cold spell, I had 6 approximately 200-pound feeder barrows in that hoop house, bedded down on a thick layer of good straw, and it held their body heat well. It was noticeably warmer when you walked into the hoop house. We just put plastic over the one window we have in the back of the hoop house every winter, and the front door is facing away from our prevailing winds. So they were out of the wind, dry, on thick bedding. It worked out really well. In the summer, we open up the back window, and because of the orientation of the hoop house, a nice breeze comes in through the back window and out through the front door. It is noticeably cooler there in the summer.

    Hope yours work out as well for you as they have for us. We certainly don't have the snow I think you must get in Montana, but like I said, we've been dumped on a few times, and the roof held the load.

    It's so dry here, I haven't noticed any condensation on the inside.

    Please let me know if I can answer any more questions. Happy to help.


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