The first time I built a pig hut, I had no idea what I was doing. I figured, how hard could it be? Pigs probably don’t care about right angles or feng shui, nor have likely heard the age-old tale of The Three Little Pigs, where only the brick house foiled the hungry, conniving wolf.
What pigs do care about are warm (or cool) and dry shelters that keep them out of extreme elements like wicked-hot and humid New England summers, drenching rain, and relentless icy winters. While a sweet and cozy barn is ideal, when pigs are rotated on pasture or through the woods, they need shelter at every stop.
It took me an entire day to slap together my first mobile pasture hut. I thought I wanted it big enough for 10 pigs even as they grew to market weight. That first hut was indeed gigantic and lasted exactly one season. Within months it became a laughable, dilapidated lean-to shack, hanging onto its collective sides with tie-down strapping, eye hooks, and whatever else I could duct tape to it to keep it standing.
Thanks to using repurposed lumber and roofing materials scattered around the property, it cost me next to nothing money-wise, but the toll on my time, body, and sanity? Priceless. With the next few huts I managed to gradually whittle that time down to about an hour, with the same result (albeit with far better quality with each edition.) Now my huts are neat, uniform, and can serve their purpose for years to come.
Depending on how big you want your pig hut, you’ll need an assortment of the following building materials and hardware:
- 4 boards of 8′, 10′, or 12′ 2 x 6 lumber for the bottom of the frame
- 4 4 x4 corner posts cut to the sizes you need for the slightly higher front and slightly lower back end of the hut. For instance 2 5′ front posts, and 2 3′ back posts
- 4 boards of 8′, 10′, or 12′ 2 x 4 lumber for the top of the frame
- 6-8 boards of 8′, 10′, or 12′ 2 x 4 lumber for the roof beams and any stabilizing interior boards
- 3-4 sheets of metal roofing at least 3′ wide, more if you plan to use roofing sheets for the side panels of the hut
- 3-4 sheets of 4 x 8 plywood or other siding for the walls
- Nails, screws, brackets (joist hangers) if desired, large industrial-strength eye hooks (for dragging the hut around), shop tools
Lessons Learned the Hard Way: If you buy your lumber at a lumber MILL versus something like a Home Depot, the lumber might be rough cut and not exactly the length you asked for. Be sure to measure and trim as needed before assembling the hut.
How to build a Pig Hut in 1 hour
Not counting the time you’ll spend gathering materials at the lumber yard and hardware store, nor hauling the materials to your build site, this open-sided lean-to pig hut style can be ready for occupancy in no time.
Depending on whether the hut’s purpose is to remain stationary or dragged around to new paddocks, you’ll want to plan for the footprint or any skids for mobility. You want the hut to be heavy enough that a pig (or several) can’t demolish or weaken it while inevitably using it as a scratching post. You’ll want it to be light enough that a tractor or ATV can drag it to its next resting place. Choose good lumber that will last a few years. Rough hewn hemlock is a good choice for longevity, but consider the splinters a pig can get when rubbing up against it. Ouch! Plywood siding is a good economical choice, and even if wear and tear render the planks wonky and worn, they are cheap enough and easy to replace.
Don’t bother with paint or stain. Pigs don’t care (I asked…) and they will eat at it over time.
- Gather and transport all of your materials, hardware, and tools out to the spot you want the pig hut to first rest at.
- Nail or screw together the 4×4 corner posts with 2×6 boards along the bottom
- With your human helper (unfortunately pigs aren’t equipped with thumbs so are useless carpenter apprentices,) connect the ends that will become the back of the hut with a 2×6 on the bottom, and then the top
- Connect the top of the back end 4×4 posts with the front ends
- Connect the tops of the front end 4×4 posts together with a 2×6. You’ll want the front-to-back boards to over hang the actual lenght of the interior to provide shelter from runoff puddling and pounding rain. Like an awning.
- Complete the main frame with a 2×6 on the bottom of the entry
- Connect the front to the back on each side at a diagonal. This creates an additional wall brace.
- Check to see that there is enough bracing all around. You may want an additional vertical 2×4 in the center of the back wall for extra stability.
- Lay 4-6 2x4s on the top of the frame, from front to back, with one on each edge of the sides, other spaced evenly between
- Either attach the roof beams flat on top, or vertically with a notch to hang over the front top 2×6. Notched offers better stability.
- Slide metal roofing sheets onto the roof beams. If you are layering them because they aren’t as long as the length of the hut front-to-back, you’ll want to tack the ones in the rear first, overlapping them slightly with each other, and then lay the front sheets over the rear. This allows water to cascade over the seam and off the roof. This is where the awning takes shape to redirect water away from the front and rear of the hut.
- Measure the sides where the plywood or siding will be tacked on. Cut your sheets to fit. Try to leave a couple of inches of space at the top for good airflow.
- For mobile huts: At the bottom corners facing out the front and back of the structure, pre-drill holes for the industrial strength eye hooks, then screw them in. These will be where your chain or other hauling tool to hook in and drag around. Choose the strongest area of those corners as the pulling will be heavy duty.
- Toss in as many hay bales as can cover the floor and provide a fluffy, comfy, dry mattress for your oinkers. Fortify as needed.
There are a thousand different ways to build adequate shelters for pigs, and another thousand pre-built models that can cost an arm and a leg. My budget is lean, and I found this to work just right for skill set and method of rotating pigs around a variety of paddocks, whether on pasture or in the woods.
The first image is the latest and greatest simple lean-to pig hut. Since I’m on a wooded slope with stumps and boulders abound, it is stationary.
The other three images are of the inaugural pig hut crafted from repurposed lumber, used metal roofing, and jury rigged with cargo tie down straps, hooks & eyes, and even duct tape. It lasted 7 months and completely collapsed during the winter after the pigs moved to the barn.