Chickens are incredibly cold hardy. What they can’t tolerate is extreme heat. To cope, they drink a lot. They pant. They dust bathe. They lounge around in the shade. In fact, you can just imagine an overly-dramatic buff orpington sitting around with an obnoxiously large floppy hat, white sunscreen-lathered beak, complaining about the high temps giving her the vapors.
OK, maybe just I can imagine that.
So I built this.
Shade Trellises for the Chicken Coop. (As an aside, I still say every source I looked up is wrong and it should be “trellii”. That’s just a cool looking word…)
Inside those small 2’x4′ raised beds, I’ll plant grapevines and some companion friends known to invigorate growth, and also deter certain grape pests.
The secret to my cheap, simple design is 16’x4′ cattle panels. You can sometimes find them for free on Craigslist or from folks replacing farm fences, but a brand new one will only set you back about $20.
Sixteen footers are a bit much for me and my trailer, so I used a little eighth grade geometry to figure out the length I would need for my sketched design. After all, these trellii are just a straight vertical line attached to about a quarter of a circle’s circumference ( 1/4 multiplied by 2πR). I did my simple calculation and decided cutting the cattle panels to 12′ will give me the exact shape I’m looking for to maintain a nice (shaded) walkway between the coop and trellis.
After cutting them (bolt cutters or channel locks snap through them like butter. Take them with you to the store!), the panels were a lot easier to get home.
I prepared the area in front of the coop by whacking down as much of our rabid, overgrown mint as possible.
Then construction was simple.
- Construct the raised beds from 1″x10″ cedar boards. (Way cheaper than 1″x12″).
- Dig a little to level them out.
- Pound in two T-posts to support each trellis.
- Zip tie cattle panels to the T-posts.
- Attach the top of each trellis to your structure. (I used the smallest electrical conduit clamps I could find.)
Yeah, I guess I could’ve swept off the coop walkway before snapping these pics. Oh well.
All that’s left for this project is to plant the beds, put down a cardboard weed (and mint!) barrier in the area, then mulch the hell out of it.
I think the girls are going to enjoy the shade.
Additionally, since I always try to stack as many functions as possible… I specifically chose grapes for my coop’s shade trellis since they are a natural attractant for Japanese Beetles. That means these prevalent pests will hopefully gravitate here and not the rest of my garden. Each morning when I let the chickens out of the coop, I plan to give the grapevines a little shake. The natural defense mechanism for Japanese Beetles is to “play dead” and fall to the ground.
Boom. Instant chicken breakfast and natural pest control.
We humans will just enjoy the grapes.
Question of the Day: What tips do you have for keeping your chickens cool in the summer?