Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cattle panel barn

As promised, more on building a cattle panel barn.
After deciding where I wanted it I had to cut down some small caliper tree's to clear a place.   My entire property is on a slope and this postage stamp sized piece is no different.  You just learn to compensate. 
I wanted it 16' long and 10' wide.  This would mean 6 cattle panels; 1 for each side and then 4 for the top. Notice the watering can in the picture?  If your ground is dry when pounding in T posts take a watering can with you.  Start your hole.  Pull the post out and fill the hole with water a few times.  It will go in much easier after that.

With the two sides in place I put a board in front to see how off level it really was.  Over a foot.  

Next you attach the 4 top pieces.  It's pretty easy if there are 2 of you but because it's just me and a 10 yr old here I have to be creative sometimes.  I'm going to show you in detail how I did it so if any of you want to build one but think you can't because you don't have help, now you will know how. 
First I put 2 -  2 x 4's across resting in the first square of each side to hold the cattle panel as I feed it across.   Then I use a T I made to raise it.

Once it's standing up like this go to the first side and using a double end snap or some other similar type clip and clip the top cattle panel  to the side panel in  a couple of places.  Then go to the other side and do the same thing.  It doesn't matter if it's even or not at this point.  You just want it attached on both sides somewhere.  After that you can start going from side to side raising it to the desired height.   Mine is overlapping two squares on each side.   This means it's 22' from the ground on one side to the ground on the other and it's approximately 8' high.  Remember I'm on a slope.    Then do the same thing for the next 3 panels.

Next using zip ties attach the panels to each other and to the sides.  I use a bunch...their cheap and worth it.  I did also use end caps on the T posts.  When you have all on you want, cut off the ends.   Next I started to level up the front with 4" x 4" ties.  

About this time it was getting late and the forcast was for rain so I stopped working on the outside and cut the plastic for the top.  I used 6 mil clear plastic from Lowes.  I buy the rolls that are 20' wide by 100' so I just cut 2 pieces 24' long to go over it making the top 12 mil.   Once the two pieces were over it I took a 2" x 6" x 16' board and put it up against each side to hold the plastic in place on the ground.  I added 2 pieces of  4' x 8'  1/2" styrofoam floor inlay between the panel and the plastic with the reflective side to the animals and then hammered 5 or 6 pieces of 24" rebar into the ground tightly against the board to hold the board in place on both sides against the cattle panel.

Next I started on the inside.  I cut some panels up to make a divider in the center to separate the pigs and goats with a gate in the middle.  I did the same for the front and the back so they could be locked in.  I laid a bunch of hay with the majority going on the low side so I will eventually have a really deep bed there for them.   I added animals and declared myself done for that night.

The rain started just as I finished up and everyone got tucked into their new home.  I didn't even have the fencing around it yet so I just locked them in.  With the rain, they didn't mind that at all.

Later I added plastic to the front and back for warmth and wind protection.  I still need to finish the ties in the front and back and I will also add some to the middle so the divider is level.  If your doing this on level ground you won't have to do that although I like the look of the ties.   I will add a proper doorway like in the greenhouse just wider and a few shelves and a milk stand.   This structure would also be great for hay storage.  I will probably do a smaller one for that when I get this one done.   In the summer the ends can come back off and it's a run in.   In fall and spring you can have them partially open. 

I have also done these in smaller versions with just 3 arched cattle panels.  If you do it that way and you have goats, unless you add the styrofoam to the sides the goats, especially kids, will climb them.  The one I have now with the extra panels on the sides makes that impossible for them to do.

You can see he's already bending this one.  

Here's a bad picture of an older goat hut I had made of cattle panels.  It was small and the dark tarps made it cold even when the sun was out.  I used alligator clips to hold a tarp folded in half on the front.   I used two tarps for the back with a piece of foam sandwiched between them for warmth and wind protection.  I only had the foam go up the back 1/2 way so I could fold the top of the back down 1/2 way on good days to air it out more and let sun in.

All in all I like the big one I just put up best so far.  I will really like it when I'm done.  The two other ones are too small for a milk stand so we just clipped them to the fence or a cattle panel on the inside to milk but I really want to have a milk stand in there.  The extra height is good.  The good part about  all of these cattle panel structures is that they are so easy to put up you can try many versions over the years till you have just exactly what you want. For me, I also like being able to move them around so no one area gets too over grazed.


  1. Great job! I saw a panel hut the first time about 7 years ago. My goat herd had grown and I was out growing my "facilities" So my husband and I discussed in great detail about putting together a panel barn. We came up with basically the same thing. It has been a lifesaver!
    Great Job!

  2. What a great informative post Elizabeth. I've never built a panel barn, but I can certainly see the virtue of using one. Very instructive. I had to laugh at the goat standing on the panel barn though. Too cute, and so predictably goat!

  3. Excellent idea! I may use this for a chicken coop if we get meat chicks next spring. Maybe for the goats too! Love that kid on the "roof".

  4. These are great. I have a lot of cattle panels here that may be freed up next year when we get more permanent fencing up. I want to try this next spring. Thank you for the nice level of detail.

  5. I love the little "kid" on top of it. I think the best part is being able to relocate them if you want to.

  6. WOW! I love this, thank you so much!! I was wondering how I could make a decent shelter for the goats I want to get and I think this will work nicely! :)

  7. waoh..this blog is excellent i reading your article keep up the great work. cattle panels I was wondering how I could make a decent shelter for the goats I want to get and I think this will work nicely!

  8. I would like to incorporate a cattle panels arch into my vegetable garden. I am just afraid it would create too much shade for the surrounding plants. There are lots of things you can do with cattle panel if you are creative

  9. Friends,this can also be used for chicken coops,
    i tried it at my place.looks like a beautiful thing..
    and it is has also not much cost.i bought chicken coops at a very handsome price and have a good experience of using it.

  10. Well, I had to see how it held ou the first winter. I created a design based on your photo witrh the supports. I added side and end boards, used 2 2x6" 12' per side board. added 3 fence panels used another 2x6" to hold the cattle panels in place. Used 3 2x4" landscape timber 3 high to make the ends, then added sections of fence cut to form the ends.

  11. I've been on a stall mat mission over the past week. You see, when I was thinking about moving Lucy to the new barn, Cattle panels

  12. I use the hog panels with 4x4 squares, still 4 x 16. I'm using them as lattice inserted into wood and galvanized tin fencing. When I lived in San Antonio, Gardenwille used to sell tomato cages very similar to yours, except the edge squares were cut in half and rounded into a circle and each panels circles were brought together with a 18 guage wire going down the center of the side circles to hold together.cattle panels I bought for of them and have had them for years and are still in great shape. They fold into one piece for storage.

  13. I favor using the woven wire also. For the reasons Bill gives, and also because it has more "give." I have used a woven

    wire round pen for many years, and still do. Five or six years ago we built a second round pen panels with cattle panels in

    a different field. It looked very spiffy. The first time we used it was at a clinic, where an out-of-control novice dog ran

    one of the sheep into a panel. Its neck broke and it had to be put down (fortunately, one of the clinic attendees was a

    vet). If that sheep had been run into wire fencing I'm sure the damage would have been minimal


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