Our Rabbit setup incl. water heater and waste catcher

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Snickers

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I thought I post a few pictures of our rabbit set up. I built the cages last fall. We have 3 hanging wire cages (1st one right now only for storing stuff, but the idea was to use it as a grow out cage, 2nd one is for Sam, our New Zealand Red and the third one (biggest one) is for our Californian Doe (+kits).

Since the cages hang on the backside of our chicken house (under a huge metal awning), which is also part of the chicken run, I did not want all the poop and pie to pile up in the chicken run. So I built a catching system that works pretty well. I used green wavy plastic roof sheets (can't remember what they are called) and hung them slanted underneath the cages. Everything falls onto those sheets and then falls in a slanted 4" plastic pipe that is mounted to the chicken house wall. It is also slanted (like the green sheets) with the lowest point over a 5 gallon bucket (with drain holes). In the fall the system worked great - we did not have any straw in the cages so pie and poop fell without issues into the pipe/bucket, just needed a once a day rinse (with cold water from a watering can) to wash down anything that got "stuck". Every few days I emptied out the bucked with the pellets in our garden.
Once winter came it got a little problematic, but actually still works pretty well. First issue, we added some straw to our little houses once the temps got below 20. Some straw tends to fall through the wire cages sooner or later and gets trapped on the green sheets or the white pipe, then poop gets trapped. Also pellets start to freeze to sheets and pipe. So we started using hot water to wash everything down - works for 95%. For the rest we use a long stick to push it down far enough so it can be washed down. Since we had really low temps here for weeks the bucket also started to freeze. So we started emptying it every 2 days - turned it upside down and poured hot water over it to loosen the content from bucket wall. If the bucket got really full we put it in a small plastic tub, filled that one up with 1 watering can of hot water, let it sit for 5 min. and the whole content comes out in once giant frozen piece. The green sheets are actually 3 individual sections and can be pulled back from where they are resting on the white pipe. When they drop down they can also be scraped easier. The chickens love to roam around in whatever falls to the ground after dropping/cleaning them.

Water: In the fall we used regular water bottles. Once we hit freezing temps I built 2 heated water dishes (got the instructions basically from a rabbit guy in Canada that posted instructions/pics on how to do it). The dishes are made of metal cookie tins, a porcelain dish, a 25w lightbulb + socket (all purchased for less than $10 from a garage sale place in town). The tins are zip tied to the cage so they rabbits (or humans) cannot move them around. The wires come out at the corner that the rabbits cannot reach and are plugged into a thermocube that turns on once the temps drop below either 35 or 45 F. We fill the dishes up 2x a day which seems to be enough during the winter. They have worked great and we've had no issues with them.
Our hay racks are made of 1 wire basket from the Dollar Tree store cut in half and mounted to the cage walls and are refilled daily. Hanging feeders are mounted on the outside and they work great.

Rabbit houses: We have tarps on the 3 sides around the chicken back wall so they are always protected from wind drafts. Even though they probably did not "need" it, we decided to add some sort of wooden hiding spot for both rabbits during the cold winter months. Sam has a little wooden house (which he loves to sit on top of - he does not seem to be a fan of the plastic resting mat) with an opening in the front. He can hide in it from the temps and we stuffed it with straw once it got really cold. For Snickers we just put her nesting box in the cage (with a removable floor) and stuffed that with straw - she also loves to sit on top of hers.

Baby insulation: Once Snickers started pulling fur we were pretty sure she was going to have babies. Unfortunately the week of giving birth the temps were going to be well below 10, going down to -15. So I decided to put thin insulation boards all around her cage except for the floor. I added a 100w lightbulb right above the nesting box area, surrounded by 2 metal baking sheets and secured with zip ties. Attached to the metal sheets the insulation boards and used duck tape to keep things together. Had to add some spacers on 2 sides of the cage so she could not chew the insulation. The light is also plugged into the thermocube. This setup has worked well so far - it has kept the temps inside the cage around 30 even when the outside temps were 10-20F. We've had the babies in the cage all day/night except for the very first night when we had temps reach -11 at night. Insulation and heat lamp will be removed once babies are 2-3 weeks and temps will stay around 30. We've checked on the babies every day and they have stayed warm so far.

Attached are a few pics to show what I decided to describe. Any feedback for improvements etc. would be great.
Thanks. :)

-- Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:11 am --

Here are the last pics, did not know how to add them to orig. post
 

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katiebear

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Looks like a nice set up..I like the heated water bowl..wouldn't need it here as we only get frozen water a couple of times a year..kinda turns the water bottles into slush. ans freeze the top layer in the chicken bowls.... But lots of people here need an idea and that's a great one..
 

lereg15

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Love your idea for the excrement!! I'm trying to think of something else to use besides the wavy plastic though.
 

Bluebunny

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Im putting cooling racks on the bottom of my rabbits entire cage so that the waste will fall through into the removable bottom portion of the cage but I am worried my rabbit might get sore hocks. Have your rabbits have this problem being that they're only flooring is the chicken wire? I want to put a layer of soft bedding on top but as you know this hinders the waste from falling through. Does anyone have tips on how I can keep the system of the rabbit waste falling through the cooling racks but also give my rabbit a soft place to lay down? The dimensions of his cage are 17 by 40 inches
 
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