My sow was housed in a home-made ark made from wooden pallets and covered in old corrugated iron, but pigs being pigs she has been scratching herself against it and it was threatening to collapse. The time had finally come to build one from new. I trawled through the internet to find some instructions, but either they were of the triangular type, or else they had floors. So I’ve taken something from everyone and come up with my own plan. My thanks to all those people whose tips I’ve borrowed. I was originally going to make an 8′ x 4′ ark, as that is roughly what the previous pallet-made one was, but I decided that I was being too mean, and in the end I made it 8′ x 6′, though as I’ve overlapped the tin a bit more than necessary, it’s come out at about 8′ x 5’6″.
3 sheets of pre bend corrugated steel (£22 each)
2 sheets 8’x4′ 18mm tanalised plywood (£28.90 each)
2 lengths of 3″x2″ timber 3.6m long (£3.45 each)
2 lengths of 3″x2″ timber 4.8m long (£5.50 each)
2 hinges (£1.26)
various screws. I used 2.25″ size 8 woodscrews, hex coach screws M8x100mm for the bottom cross pieces (though a bit longer would have been better) and M8x75mm for the top cross pieces, plus 45mm roofing screws (a bit longer would be better). Approx cost £10.
All the above prices are plus VAT, (and delivery if required). My total bill is about £200. It’s at this stage where you start to think if it would be cheaper to buy one, but if you do, it won’t be as strong as this one.
Tip: Before starting, draw lines, the short way across the ply sheets, at 1′ intervals. This will help later when you cut the door out and when you fix the cross pieces. Mark the inside of the front and back pieces and all cross timbers as you go along so you know which way round they go when you come to screw them together. This is particularly important if you are making it somewhere nice and flat, then take it apart again to move it to your uneven field.
Instructions: Position one of the roofing sheets on its side on one of the sheets of ply. In theory this should be a perfect fit, but more than likely will need some gentle persuasion (aka brute force) to get the tin sheet to match the ply. Draw around the outside of the tin, then cut along the line using a jig-saw.
Using the lines you drew earlier, measure out and draw a doorway on one of the sheets. Most arks seem to have the door centrally, but I prefer it offset. I made my doorway 36″ high and 26″ wide and offset it about 8″ from the middle. As my ark is likely to be used to house ducks at some point, I will keep the piece that I cut out and at some point in the future it can have a couple of hinges added to it so that I can shut the ducks in at night. If you are likely to want a door on yours, I suggest you angle the jigsaw blade slightly inwards from front to back, then the door will shut against the ark without needing a stop of any kind. (I didn’t think of this until after I’d cut it ofcourse!) Draw a vent on the back piece. I did mine 14″ x 7″. When you cut it out, leave the corners attached so that when you put the hinges on they are positioned correctly. (My thanks to www.mangalitzapig.co.uk for this tip.) Again, angling the jigsaw blade might be a good idea, though it will probably make cutting it out more difficult.
A simple wooden toggle can be used to keep the vent closed in winter. On mine, I covered the inside with wire mesh, so that when I’ve got ducks in it, Mr. Fox can’t get them.
You now need to cut the 3″x2″ wood to length. You need two lengths of 2418mm (which is 8′ minus 2 centimetres. Please excuse me mixing imperial and decimal measurements!) 2 lengths of 1550mm and 3 lengths of 1640mm. This will give a finished ark of about 5’6″ wide, overlapping the tin slightly more than necessary. If you want to maximise the width you’re on your own with the measurements!
Position the 2418mm lengths along the inside bottom edge of the front and back. The ply should overlap at each end by 1cm. (This allows for the corrugations of the tin.) I used 2.25mm woodscrews to attach them. You now have a front and back. I splashed around a bit of wood preservative on all the cut surfaces. (I had some left over green Cuprinol which I used. Not pretty, but the pig won’t complain.) Stand the front and back up, and position the two bottom cross bars (1550mm) between them. If you don’t have an army of helpers, a spare length of timber and lots of G clamps are a great help. Pre-drill the holes, then screw in the 100mm coach screws, using a ratchet socket set. Two on each end. The cross bars should be positioned right at the ends of the front and back bars.
The three 1640mm bars can now be screwed into position. Position them evenly around the arc. They need to be 1cm away from the edge of the ply, to allow for the corrugations. I used the offcuts of ply to make some supports for the cross bars.
The supports can then be glued and screwed on to the inside of the ply and the cross bars slotted into position, ready to be pre-drilled and screwed into place. The supports are not essential, but will hopefully make it stronger and certainly makes it easier for one person to assemble on their own. You should now have the completed frame built. I then drilled a 20mm hole at each end on each side, about half-way up. When you want to move your ark you can then turn it on to its roof, feed a rope through a pair of the holes and drag it to its new position by the rope.
Position the tin, outside sheets first, then the middle one. Make sure everything is nice and snug, with the outside edges hooked over the ply. Start fixing the sheeting from the top, then working down the sides. We put 7 screws in each cross bar. We made pilot holes by nailing a standard roofing nail through the tin first, then screwing in the roof screws using a rachet socket set again. This is quite a time consuming job, the difficult bit being making the pilot holes. This gets very tricky at the bottom of the sheets as they are very springy. We cracked it in the end by squeezing a short length of 1″x1″ timber inside the corrugation and hammering against that. Once it was all assembled I hammered the edges of the tin over the ply, to stop the pig cutting herself on them (she loves to scratch against anything – or anyone for that matter.) Hey presto, you now have a pig ark – just add straw and a pig.