Building cage... advice, suggestions, or warnings please.

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brittanyf

Fruitful Abundance
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Hi all you wonderful people,

We are planning on getting into raising rabbits for meat. Also, I think it would be a cool way for my homeschooled kids to learn about genetics. Any suggested websites for that would be greatly appreciated. We are in NC, about in the middle, and planning for Californian, New Zealand, Silver Fox, or even a mix of them. Planning to start with one buck and 2 does and upgrade to 2 bucks and 5 does. So far, I am about finished building a 15 ft, 5-hole cage. Each cage is 30x36.

We are about to start to start purchasing materials for the wooden frame. I'm going to name some of our ideas. Please give any suggestions or warnings based on your own experiences. The plan is to build a basic frame around the cage. My husband was going to attach the cage to the frame but now he is considering hanging it with hooks and chains instead to prevent the rabbits from chewing on the wood. What type of wood should we get? We were thinking untreated but will it be destroyed in the weather? Heat/Cold. It gets really hot. We've already had high 80s humid days. I was originally going to place it alongside the house but now I'm changing to the back corner that is shaded by a woody section. The small patch of woods is outside of our fence, the rabbit cage would be inside. So just the tops of the trees would shade them. My original concern with putting them by the house was a fear of predators but I really don't think there is much around. I have an inside/outside cat and 3 large dogs. I think most things are afraid to come around of course that wouldn't do anything when they are inside.... I'm wondering if we should put plywood the height of the cages down the length of the cages and on the sides. After a comment in here, the roof will be about a foot above the cages. Then, on the front, my husband is talking about using plywood to build a front on hinges so that it can be put at a 90 degree angle above the cages, at about a 45 degree angle facing the ground, or dropped straight down to shield from cold or wind. This would still leave the bottom and top open which we think would be good ventilation. The thought process is that it would allow extra shade straight out, blocking the sun at the hottest part of the day, or closing for wind or cold. I don't want to accidentally harm the rabbits when we mean well.

Thank you for being patient with my long details.
 
I don't have advice for most of your questions, but do not underestimate predators. They will know your rabbits are there. Just because there aren't many right now, or you haven't seen them, doesn't mean they won't come once you have rabbits. I have solar motion sensor lights all around my rabbits that helps alert me when something is out there. I have even found coyotes scoping out my rabbits during the day. I think it's smart to build for predators and hope you don't need it.
 
I don't have advice for most of your questions, but do not underestimate predators. They will know your rabbits are there. Just because there aren't many right now, or you haven't seen them, doesn't mean they won't come once you have rabbits. I have solar motion sensor lights all around my rabbits that helps alert me when something is out there. I have even found coyotes scoping out my rabbits during the day. I think it's smart to build for predators and hope you don't need it.
Oh Thank you. I was looking into the solar motion sensor lights. I will definitely go with them. Thanks again.We were also thinking if needed, we would move up to the house.
 
We are planning on getting into raising rabbits for meat. Also, I think it would be a cool way for my homeschooled kids to learn about genetics. Any suggested websites for that would be greatly appreciated.
This is a great plan! 😁 Rabbits have been wonderful for our family: good meat, and knowing where it comes from; personal responsibility; compassion; an idea of stewardship; sportsmanship; public speaking; biology, anatomy, physiology, behavior; you name it, our kids have benefited in that way (from both homeschooling and rabbits!).

There are two genetics websites that I could recommend:

https://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-coat-color-genetics.html (This is a good website for many things other than genetics, as well.)

https://rabbittutor.com/color-genetics

Finally, I'd heartily recommend this book:
1716602871490.jpeg
https://rabbitsmarties.com/product/rabbit-color-genetics-book

I'd also strongly suggest joining the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association). It's a national organization that supports rabbit breeders/owners in all areas of rabbit ownership including showing, meat breeding, fiber production, pet breeding and/or pet ownership. When you join you will get the book "Official Guide Book: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies" plus a beautiful color bi-monthly magazine with articles on just about every topic you can think of relating to rabbits, from breeds to breeding to health issues to recipes. You and your kids can learn a lot of things from the magazine especially. You can also read a lot of good stuff on the ARBA website itself. You can see details here: Join the ARBA

The plan is to build a basic frame around the cage. My husband was going to attach the cage to the frame but now he is considering hanging it with hooks and chains instead to prevent the rabbits from chewing on the wood. What type of wood should we get? We were thinking untreated but will it be destroyed in the weather?
I'd use treated wood as long as the rabbits won't be able to chew on it. Weather is bad enough but rabbit urine is unbelievably caustic (and stinky), so the more protection, the better.

I am a definite fan of hanging wire cages for many reasons, hygiene and predators being the two at the top. Some predators can still get up to the cages (rats, ermine) but even they can be blocked if they're a threat. You can use wire with small openings for the whole cage, not just the floor, or you can install climbing guards on the uprights. But if you hang the cages high enough, it limits the ability of dogs, coyotes and foxes to tear into your rabbits. Hanging cages high also makes it immensely easier to shovel out the manure when the time comes (for me, twice a year... and please excuse the state of the barn in the following photos as I was about to start the spring cleaning). Not only is there good clearance underneath for working, but in addition you don't have lots of cage legs in the way of the shovel.

Hanging wire cages tends eventually to deform the cages because of the weight of large meat rabbits and their litters. But my genius husband came up with a wonderful way to prevent this. He attached lengths of PVC or metal pipe along the top in the front and back of the cages with lots of zip ties to distribute the weight (A). In the front, he sunk nails into the shelf above and just attached the pipe to the nails with a twist of wire (B).
Inked204_3513.jpg
To support the back, he installed metal hooks (they look like giant cup hooks) along the back wall, and just lifted and set the pipe into them:
Inked204_3523.jpg
One of the things I love about this approach is that it makes it SO easy to pull down a dirty or damaged cage and replace it with another. Also, as mentioned, the cages don't get deformed the way they do if you simply attach wire supports to the cage itself.

The system works really well since he custom-built my barn for me (about 16 years of jerry-rigging helped us know what worked and - mostly - what didn't :ROFLMAO:). He built a center section that supported two rows of cages and functioned as much-needed, and very stout, shelving:
204_3512 (2).JPG
The rack uprights are treated wood because we knew they would get peed on, but the rest of the racks are not since they're protected from weather by the barn. One thing that doesn't show in the photos is that I added solid dividers between most of the cages. That stops bucks from spraying and otherwise aggravating each other.

Heat/Cold. It gets really hot. We've already had high 80s humid days. I was originally going to place it alongside the house but now I'm changing to the back corner that is shaded by a woody section. The small patch of woods is outside of our fence, the rabbit cage would be inside. So just the tops of the trees would shade them.

After a comment in here, the roof will be about a foot above the cages. Then, on the front, my husband is talking about using plywood to build a front on hinges so that it can be put at a 90 degree angle above the cages, at about a 45 degree angle facing the ground, or dropped straight down to shield from cold or wind. This would still leave the bottom and top open which we think would be good ventilation. The thought process is that it would allow extra shade straight out, blocking the sun at the hottest part of the day, or closing for wind or cold. I don't want to accidentally harm the rabbits when we mean well.
Having the roof some distance above the cages is a good idea, as is adding some form of insulation under the roof. My barn ceiling is insulated with foam panels, the kind that have silver on one side (you can see it above in the last photo). I don't heat the building, and the roof is pretty high, but it stays 5-10 degrees F warmer than outside in the winter, and that much or more cooler in the summer. If you also added insulation to the drop-down front (love that idea!) and the wood along the sides, you might really be able to make your rabbits more comfortable, especially if you laid wet material on top of the cages themselves on the hot days. Just make sure that the insulation is not facing the rabbits, or is covered by something to protect it from urine.
 
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I just finished changing my entire set up to Alaska Satin pole hanging cage system. Power washed the entire barn first. Then the cages. The white pee stains are impossible to remove. Even with the turbo nozzle.
Now everything is a lot more cleanable.
 
This is a great plan! 😁 Rabbits have been wonderful for our family: good meat, and knowing where it comes from; personal responsibility; compassion; an idea of stewardship; sportsmanship; public speaking; biology, anatomy, physiology, behavior; you name it, our kids have benefited in that way (from both homeschooling and rabbits!).

There are two genetics websites that I could recommend:

https://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-coat-color-genetics.html (This is a good website for many things other than genetics, as well.)

https://rabbittutor.com/color-genetics

Finally, I'd heartily recommend this book:
View attachment 41736
https://rabbitsmarties.com/product/rabbit-color-genetics-book

I'd also strongly suggest joining the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Associations). It's a national organization that supports rabbit breeders/owners in all areas of rabbit ownership including showing, meat breeding, fiber production, pet breeding and/or pet ownership. When you join you will get the book "Official Guide Book: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies" plus a beautiful color bi-monthly magazine with articles on just about every topic you can think of relating to rabbits, from breeds to breeding to health issues to recipes. You and your kids can learn a lot of things from the magazine especially. You can also read a lot of good stuff on the ARBA website itself. You can see details here: Join the ARBA


I'd use treated wood as long as the rabbits won't be able to chew on it. Weather is bad enough but rabbit urine is unbelievably caustic (and stinky), so the more protection, the better.

I am a definite fan of hanging wire cages for many reasons, hygiene and predators being the two at the top. Some predators can still get up to the cages (rats, ermine) but even they can be blocked if they're a threat. You can use wire with small openings for the whole cage, not just the floor, or you can install climbing guards on the uprights. But if you hang the cages high enough, it limits the ability of dogs, coyotes and foxes to tear into your rabbits. Hanging cages high also makes it immensely easier to shovel out the manure when the time comes (for me, twice a year... and please excuse the state of the barn in the following photos as I was about to start the spring cleaning). Not only is there good clearance underneath for working, but in addition you don't have lots of cage legs in the way of the shovel.

Hanging wire cages tends eventually to deform the cages because of the weight of large meat rabbits and their litters. But my genius husband came up with a wonderful way to prevent this. He attached lengths of PVC or metal pipe along the top in the front and back of the cages with lots of zip ties to distribute the weight (A). In the front, he sunk nails into the shelf above and just attached the pipe to the nails with a twist of wire (B).
View attachment 41738
To support the back, he installed metal hooks (they look like giant cup hooks) along the back wall, and just lifted and set the pipe into them:
View attachment 41737
One of the things I love about this system is that it makes it SO easy to pull down a dirty or damaged cage and replace it with another. Also, as mentioned, the cages don't get deformed they way they do if you simply attach wire supports to the cage itself.

The system works really well since he custom-built my barn for me (about 16 years of jerry-rigging helped us know what worked and - mostly - what didn't :ROFLMAO:). He built a center section that supported two rows of cages and functioned as much-needed, and very stout, shelving:
View attachment 41739
The rack uprights are treated wood because we knew they would get peed on, but the rest of the racks are not since they're protected from weather by the barn. One thing that doesn't show in the photos is that I added solid dividers between most of the cages. That stops bucks from spraying and otherwise aggravating each other.




Having the roof above the cages is a good idea, as is adding some form of insulation under the roof. My barn ceiling is insulated with foam panels, the kind that have silver on one side (you can see it above in the last photo). I don't heat the building, and the roof is pretty high, but it stays 5-10 degrees F warmer than outside in the winter, and that much or more cooler in the summer. If you also added insulation to the drop-down front (love that idea!) and the wood along the sides, you might really be able to make your rabbits more comfortable, especially if you laid wet material on top of the cages themselves on the hot days. Just make sure that the insulation is not facing the rabbits, or is covered by something to protect it from urine.
Thank you so much! I will show him your husband's work! For now I plan to put male on one side of the cage and the 2 ladies on the other and use the middle for growouts. Then when we have more does we plan to build 2 10 foot long hutches with a divider making each into a 2 foot section for males and an 8 foot section for growouts. Then use the cages we just built for breeder does. That's the plan anyway, whatever leads. I figure that would be support our family well and leave room for the kids to have fun with genetics.
 
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