PEN SETUP- GATES & SHADE STRUCTURES
There are several ways to create a strong gate and shade protection for your market project. Options include building from scraps in the yard to purchasing well manufactured livestock products. Which type you chose should be based on how long you plan to show livestock.
BASIC GOALS TO CONSIDER FOR LIVESTOCK PENS ARE:
- Warm and Comfortable – There should be adequate bedding & footing. See article Barns – Bedding 101.
- Safe, Secure & Strong – All species should have a good strong gate that is free from sharp edges and secure to keep them in their pen. It should not be flimsy. No sharp edges and safe from dog or other carnivores that could harm them.
- Adequate Coverage – Goats and Sheep both like sun and shade in their pen. For this reason, they do not require full coverage. Swine on the other hand should be fully shaded to keep them from sunburn. They love the sun, but cannot afford to get sunburned.
- Shelter – All species should have a 3 sided shelter for protection from weather; both Hot & Cold Climates. They do not need to be fancy. Plywood sides and roof walled to guard against the wind and rain. Another trick for creating a secure shading structure is to make a “Hoop House” with 3 hog panels (4’ x 16’) and attach the ends of the panels to the top of each fence side to create an arch. Tarps or screening can be easily attached to the arched panels for plenty of shade, block the wind and provide head room to walk into the pen and clean! If it rains, all the water rolls right off and the tarp stay in place. Don’t place the hoop house on the ground. It should be attached to the top rail of your fence.
- Galvanized Fencing or Gates
- Shade Cloth
- Shavings or Straw; Clean, dry & dust free
- Heat Lamp
- Wall mounted feeders
- Continuous Water Supply
For Fencing information See Article Pen Setup – Fencing 101
PEN SETUP TALKING POINTS
Observations of Personality Traits
Goats have the curiosity of 10 cats and the agility too! With this said, they will climb up on anything they can! Because they climb, it is recommended to use a strong gate such as galvanized metal because they like to rub and stand up on the wire.
Sheep too will climb up on gates. A gate that is sturdy and strong will serve you well and keep your lamb safe. Avoid large wire openings where the lamb can stick their head through. Many ear tags have be caught on wire and torn out.
Swine Require a 2×4 or galvanized frame gate to keep them in their pen. They will use their soft, wet noses to tear under or through any flimsy fence, panel or gate. So make it sturdy.
Gate & Fence Material – Wood and Galvanized gates are my preference for all livestock. Galvanized gates & panels are my favorite because they are:
- Strong, clean, safe and rust proof (mostly)
- Portable & fold away neatly when not in use
- Bolt together quickly
- Great for all types of animals
- Come in a variety of heights and lengths
- Can be resold – they hold a good resale value
Rule of Thumb for Panel Height Selection
- 6’ – Dogs (larger than 30 lbs.)
- 5’ – Goats & Sheep
- 3-4’ – Pigs or other small livestock
Any of the Gates or Gate Combo Panels are great options for Goats, Sheep, Swine, Horses & Dogs. They can also be made using 2×4’s with wire centers or closely placed 2x4s. They are priced well and will provide easy access to your market project.
ROOF & SHADE SUGGESTIONS
SHADE CLOTH, TARPS & COVERS
For creating shade on your pen, there are several options and ways to go about it. There are different types of agricultural shade cloth material that will do a great job without being an expensive addition. I prefer shade cloth on the top and sides of the pen to allow ventilation without the direct sun rays. If water proofing is your goal, then I’d recommend using the good old fashion plastic tarp or duck canvas in a color that will work with your yard
A Little Bit about Shade Cloths; they come in a variety of shade rates from 30% to 80% shading. I always go with the heaviest cloth I can get for durability, but when it gets down to it, what’s in your hand or on the shelf is usually good enough.
For attaching your shade cloth or tarp to your pen, there are a few ways to accomplish this to ensure that your shade stays secure and does tear.
ROOF & SHADE SUGGESTIONS
An economical way is to wrap the shade around the edge of the panel edge and secure it with a zip tie as shown below. Available too are circular or butterfly shaped grommet fasteners in 24 packs. Both are quick to clip on. They can be used to string onto a cable or as a single tie off. The metal grommet design is more expensive as it usually requires an upholstery shop to sew edging to attach grommets. These are all temporary shade structures for your project.
PVC Pipe Roof Idea-
Here is a chicken coop with arched PVC pipe covered with chicken wire to keep out large birds of prey & other predators. Another used PVC pipe and fittings to cover with a shade cloth for their pigs (noticed that they built the pen using 2x4s on 4×4 corners? It was very sturdy). Both give ample head room to walk in for cleaning.
- 10’ ½” PVC Pipes,
- ½” Tees,
- PVC Primer & Glue
- Shade Cloth or Tarp to cover.
- Zip ties, twine or wire to attach
GOAT LOUNGING LEDGE
Because it’s what Goats like to do!
If your goat shelter is similar to a 7’x7’’10’ tall shed, install a 4’ deep ledge that is 2-3’ off the ground. I’ve seen these without the ramps and it doesn’t slow the goats down from jumping up. They will love to lie on top as well as below. This design also provides shade and protection.
Benefit: This shed can be used for storage during the off season and it will look nice in the backyard! The shelf can be used to store feed if you are housing a pig.
For Information on setting up pens, see
Daily Pen Assessment – Goats & Sheep – This is a “must do” for every project showman!
Daily Pen Assessment – Swine