The basic idea behind pastured poultry is to move the chickens to fresh grass each day. So the pen needs to be light enough to pull with a rope by a single person or a riding lawn mower. Lots of people use a 10x10' pasture pen that is only 2 feet high. I chose a hoop house over a pasture pen because I can walk inside to change out the feed and water, catch chickens, etc.
It has an 8x12' foot print and is 6' high, enough to be able to walk around inside. It is basically made of 3 "ranch panels" (4 gauge galvanized welded wire) that are pushed up into a hoop inside of the pressure treated frame. I put a heavy duty U.V. protected tarp over the back 8' leaving 4' open (covered in chicken wire) for sun and ventilation. I covered the perimeter with 4 foot high chicken wire in case the tarp rips or I want fold it up on the sides. Attaching the chicken wire was very laborious, even using wire "zip" ties. Make sure to use the black (U.V. protected) ones.
The ends were the most difficult part to figure out. Chicken wire by itself is not predator proof and the ranch panels were too cumbersome (and very sharp at the ends) to use. I have been saving this piece of 3/8" ACX plywood for years and finally found a good use for it. I just tacked it in place and traced out the hoop and cut it to fit. I did not want it to become a 3 sided parachute in the wind so I put in a foot of chicken wire near the top of the back so the wind will go through it. The A-frame 2x4's are to keep the ranch panel at the peak in place and help support the plywood as well. I probably need to put some stain or paint it or it won't last very long.
My son's dog "Moo Moo" (cause his coloring looks like a cow) for some perspective of the size.
The door on the front is almost 3x6' and has sprung hinges (screen door style) and two locks. I purposely made it swing out so that if a predator tried to get in it couldn't push its way through. Later on I added some left over heavy wire fencing to the door and the front to beef up the chicken wire. Next time I will use plywood or 2" welded wire covered with chicken wire for the ends.
LESSON LEARNED: Chicken wire sucks. Use alternatives when ever possible.
Nice and cozy inside, yet some sun and lots of ventilation. I think I will add some roost bars at the back and I need to build a feed trough (maybe out of plastic rain gutter) and get some "chicken nipples" for a 5 gallon water bucket. I will hang the water bucket from the peak near the door to make it easy to change out. And the feed troughs will probably sit on the corner braces so that they move with the house when I pull it to fresh grass each day.
Turns out that my new neighbor across the street raises Black and Blue Copper Marans (very dark brown eggs) and Ameraucana (blue Easter Eggers) on his small family farm (www.rolofarms.com) and is making some decent money at it selling chicks this spring. He asked me to build him one or two of these hoop houses for his extra cockerels. I ended up using 5mm under-layment plywood on both ends but had to primer seal it because it wasn't exterior grade plywood. Here it is just before I put the tarp on. Its a little different but probably stronger than mine.