Chicken coops come in as many designs as chickens. But one item that is useful in almost any portable or backyard chicken habitat is a tarp. Tarps protect chickens from wind, rain and sun. They provide extra insulation and snow-proofing in winter. Tarps can be used as full roofs, as partial "sunbrellas," and as extra layers to help anchor or waterproof a plywood or tin roof. Using old billboard tarp material saves labour and money because billboards are made to last for years, used for months and discarded. They can outlast regular tarp material by two or three years.
Measure the part of the coop that will be covered by the tarp. Cut the tarp to size, adding 4 inches all the way around for hemming.
Fold the edges of the tarp under 2 inches, like hems, and put grommets at regular intervals through both thicknesses of material, leaving the corners free. Do two opposite sides and then the two remaining sides. When you fold the final sides under, make sure they fold neatly at the corners and put a grommet through all four layers of material at each corner.
Position the tarp over the part of the coop to be covered. It will rest directly on the chicken wire, roof tin or plywood. If there is no substructure, stretch the tarp between the posts that hold the side wire for the coop's walls.
Attach the tarp to the substructure or supports with snap hooks or cable ties through the grommets. Hook them into eyebolts screwed into wood framing or clip them to chicken wire or fencing. Alternatively, use thin nylon rope or parachute cord threaded through the grommets and tightly knotted to eyebolts. If you will remove the tarp frequently, snap hooks are the most convenient fasteners.
- In severe weather, use an extra tarp or batten down a fastened one. Place heavy weight on well-supported tarps to anchor them so they don't rip away from fasteners or blow up and expose the chickens to wind or rain. Bricks, stones or boards may be enough to counter wind. A board set along the edge of a tarp and weighted down by bricks or cement pavers can secure a length of tarp over a coop in a storm.
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