Building your own cattle panel structure is easy to do and only takes a couple hours to complete.
These structures can be used to make a greenhouse, chicken house, rabbit house or whatever your homestead needs may be.
To make this basic structure, I used:
- 2 – 16 ft x 50 inch cattle panels
- 2 – 10 ft x 1 x 6 inch, pressure treated boards for the sides
- 3 – 8 ft x 1 x 6 inch, pressure treated boards for the ends and a skid board (optional)
- 1 – 8 ft 1 x 3 inch boards to fasten the cattle panels to the sides
- 7 – 8 ft 2 x 3 boards for the supports and door frame
- 4 – 1 foot, 2 x 4 or 2 x 3 scraps for corner supports
- 2 1/2 inch exterior screws
- 1 1/2 inch exterior screws
Additionally, to make my structure into a rabbit colony:
- 2 tubes of 1 1/2 inch PVC (PVC is for the door)
- 4 – 90 degree PVC elbow joints
- 2 – PVC “T” joints
- 2 – 2 inch conduit hangars (to attach the door as hinges)
- chicken/poultry fencing
- zip ties/cable ties
- garden fencing for the floor
- fence staples (“u” shaped nails)
- 2 – 10 x 8 foot tarps
- additional 1 x 3 boards to line the inside of the pressure treated wood – rabbits chew on wood, and I don’t want them exposed to the treated lumber
To put this together, I did not need to cut the pressure treated boards. I used pressure treated wood because this structure will be sitting on the ground.
The 10 foot boards make up the sides. I attached the 8 foot boards on the inside (2 1/2 inch screws), as cross beams creating the ends. The four, one foot scraps were cut at 45 degree angles on the ends, to fit into the corners and support the structure. Again 2 1/2 screws were used, inserted from the outside of the structure.
I attached one of the 2×3’s in the center as a support. This gives me something to fasten the fencing to, as well as provides support from the pressure of the cattle panels when they are inserted.
Here you are looking at the frame upside down, as I attach the fence floor for the rabbits. This keeps them from digging out. If you are making a greenhouse or other structure, you will not need this fencing.
Before I attached the cattle panels, I measured them. Even though the cattle panels are supposed to be 50 inches, sometimes they are off, and you want to make sure you have enough space inside the frame to fit them. The first structure I made like this, had perfect 50 inch cattle panels. The second set of panels did not.
Because you’ll need a little “wiggle room,” I placed the end boards 100 3/4 inches apart. Measure your cattle panels (height) and add about 3/4 of an inch to your total. That is the space that you will need between the end boards.
When you attach them, you will have some extra length on the ends of the side boards. I intentionally left this so that I could add something to attach straps to to pull and move this with. If your structure isn’t going to move at all, you can cut the excess off.
The extra board that you see laying at the bottom of the photo below, was attached at an angle after we turned this frame right side up. Because we plan on moving this around, we placed it there to lay down the grasses and other plants to make it easier to slide. If your structure will not move, you do not need to add this.
Once the frame was completed, we inserted the cattle panels inside the frame, creating the arched top.
To secure them in place, I sandwiched the panel between a 1 x 3 board and the side of the frame. I attached this with 1 1/2 inch exterior screws. I did this on both sides.
After these were in place, we attached the cattle panels to each other with zip ties (cable ties) the entire length of their sides where they meet.
To support the structure, we attached an 8 foot 2 x 3 vertically in the inside center of each end with 2 1/2 inch exterior screws. Then we attached a cross board creating a “T” at the top, on the inside of the frame. This board is 2 feet long.
We wanted this to be a snug fit, so Jeff pushed the board firmly up against the cattle panel, and I attached it in place with three 2 1/2 inch screws. This was done on each side.
(Ignore the boards that are standing up on end – I just stuck them there so the chickens wouldn’t poop all over them.)
At this point, you can decide what it is you are going to do with this structure. Again, we were using this as a rabbit house, so there are some steps we did that you may not find necessary, depending upon your needs.
As you can see, the chickens were very curious about what was happening here.
Now for the door frame.
I stuck a 2 x 3 across the top, inserted into the cattle panel. I held the board where I wanted it to be, and marked the board for where I would cut it to fit. Once it was cut, I attached it to the vertical beam with 2 1/2 inch screws, and to the cattle panel where it touches, with zip ties.
To make this a rabbit/chicken house, we attached 4 foot poultry fencing all the way around the sides, fastened with zip ties to the cattle panel, and with fencing staples to the wood frame. I didn’t attach poultry netting all the way up the sides, because this would be covered with a tarp roof. I did put poultry fencing all the way up both ends.
After measuring the height & width that I wanted the door to be, I cut the PVC to size, and put the door frame together as you can see here.
I covered it with chicken wire, and fastened it in place with zip ties.
After I made the door, I measured, cut, and attached a second vertical board for the other side of the door frame. Again, I simply held the board in place, marked it at the top, then cut and attached it.
To attach the door to the frame, I fastened two conduit hangars to the inside of the door frame, then inserted the PVC in to the hangar.
I attached the tarps to the panels, forming a roof. If you want a greenhouse, this would be clear greenhouse plastic sheeting.
This particular structure we are using as a grow-out home for our young rabbits. Because as I mentioned above, rabbits like to chew on wood, I attached additional 1 x 3’s to the inside of the wood frame, creating short walls. This way they wouldn’t be exposed to or chew on the treated lumber.
And there you go! A completed cattle panel structure that you can use for anything your heart desires. I’ve already started a second one to use for a greenhouse in the garden.