Monday, April 23, 2012

How the Rabbit Shed was Built and Modified

 I know I have posted pictures of the rabbit shed before; but, since I did not explain the design and construction, I figured I would write about it now.

The first consideration was making it of a length and width to hold four breeder cages and one or more grow out cages. The cages are 30x30 so the width of the shed was set at 4 feet. We decided to make the length 16 feet which is sufficient for the six cages with extra for overhang. There is also the potential for adding length to one end later on. The shed is set in a corner of a solid vinyl fence so it has protection on two sides. The other two sides will soon have tarp "curtains" which can be lowered to protect them during heavy rains. The roof is made of PVC panels. If you use multiple panels as we have, you will need to seal the joints with silicone.

The posts are 2x4x8 pressure treated boards as are the roof supports except that there are two 2x4x16s on top (front and back) which really pulls the structure together into one solid unit. We will be coating the legs with grease to prevent fire ant attacks and may also place something around the legs to prevent raccoons from climbing the legs.

I originally thought that using chains to hang the cages would be sufficient support. With lighter rabbits it probably would have been. If you have small rabbits and want to hang with chain, you need to position the chains so that they form a Y with the corners and create tension between their opposing corner. The chain we purchased was rated to hold significantly more weight than the cage and rabbit would weigh.

For large meat rabbits, chains alone will not reduce bounce enough. My rabbits found the remaining bounce disconcerting so we had to find a way to retro-fit the shed so as to support the rabbits and reduce bounce to zero. After discussing several ideas, we opted for purchasing garden wire fencing and more 2x4x8s and attaching sections of fencing running front to back and setting the cages on the fencing. We attached the cages to the fencing with zip ties.

Another item currently missing but will very likely have to be retrofitted is urine guards between cages. Bucks have a bad habit of spraying does and other bucks with urine as a way of establishing their claims. I guess the male hormones make for bad behavior in any species! Anyway, if you don't want your rabbits stained with each other's urine, you will want to place solid walls between bucks and between bucks and does. I have not explored the options for this need yet so I don't have recommendations.

The other consideration is what to do with the rabbit manure and urine. Having cages without trays like these are great for hygiene. Yes, I will need to clean the cages occasionally but I won't have trays of urine and poop to empty daily. The droppings fall to the ground below. The hay and bits of food also fall. So, what to do? Well, I've read lots of different solutions. I'm trying the worm bed option. You will see in the first two pictures some tires on the ground under the cages. I was going to have the worm beds in those. But, the smaller tires were hard to set where the poop was falling. They also just didn't look as neat as Son wanted it to look. Seems he wants the shed to look *good* since he built it! So, the tires were removed and we put a thick layer of spoiled straw and leaf mulch under there. We may eventually put 1x8 boards around the circumference of the shed to contain the pile. Son says that will make it look better, too. We'll be mail ordering some worms to add to the pile and hopefully will soon be having some great compost for the gardens!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tina-

    You have a very nice blog! I love it! I have a blog too. Mine is We enjoyed meeting you and your family so much on Sunday. It is always nice to talk to people that you have a lot in common with :) Hope to keep in touch. Give me a ring if and when you guys are ready for some pigeons! And in the Fall if your Mama still wants some venison! I hope your son is enjoying his baby ducks. They are so sweet. Take care Tina!