When I acquired cages last year, I purchased them second hand from someone getting out of rabbits altogether.
I probably 1) paid too much, 2) should have been even more selective than I was in the ones I picked out. But, suffice to say, I didn’t.
One thing I’ve discovered in this past year of having these cages … they’re too deep for me to reasonably reach all of them. Thirty inch deep cages just aren’t great. This has made handling rabbits, kits, or other maintenance chores … difficult.
So when I ran out of cage space recently, I had to decide how I was going to expand and replace cages. Among them … dimensions.
First stop included looking at commercially available cages, and Craigslist/FB marketplace. Second hand cages, for a reasonable price, would be acceptable. But all of the “available” ones have been at 2/3rds the cost of self-assemble commercially available cages, and would need repair/refurb. Not ideal.
KW Cages has good cages, and a good reputation. However, the online purchasable cages are … not cheap (particularly once shipping is calculated in), and aren’t a great dimension set for me. The ones I can get at Rural King come in “too small” and “too big.” Pretty sure I have a couple of them, as the original second hand cages, and they’re … okay.
So after pricing everything out, I cringed, and went looking at wire prices. For less than the price of purchasing two cages of the same approximate dimensions (without shipping), I could acquire wire, and build cages to my specifications.
And because that’s the kind of thing I do, that’s the kind of thing I did. I purchased a 10 foot roll of 30″ wide .5″x1″ welded wire, a 100 ft roll of 1″x2″x18″ for the sides and partitions, and a 25 foot roll of 1″x2″x24″ for the top. Obviously, the 100 ft and 25ft rolls will be used for more than one set of cages. I went to the trouble of buying properly dimension-ed wire to cut down on cutting.
I had initially told myself I’d do the 30″ deep cages, because that’s “standard.” After poking around a bit more, I found out at least one large commercial rabbitry prefers 24″ deep, for pretty much the same reason I do. So, since I had already acquired the 30″ bottom wire, I decided to do it as “baby saver”, and bend up the sides to give overlap. Each hole is approximately 24″ deep by 38-39″ wide.
After having done this once, 1) I don’t think it’s really THAT necessary, 2) It does seem to have added some strength and stability to the whole cage, as I used j-clips on two rows for the bottom, 3) probably will not do so again. OTOH, it saved me trimming the wire down much. I notched out the corners to bend up the sides, and worked from there.
I then added the back side, followed by the top. I did it that way to help straighten out the partitions and such. I don’t have a picture of it after adding the top. By this point, my hands were already pretty torn up from the j-clip clamp.
Semi-finished cage. I still have to measure and cut out the door and feeder openings, as well as make and attach the doors.
I took a break at this point, and picked back up today.
My original intent had been to have all downward opening doors. Depending on how the support structure works out, downward is easier to manage. However, that “baby saver” edge causes its own problems. The first door is downward opening, and slightly taller. It was … difficult.
I took a break to warm my toes back up, and debate the pros/cons of doing the other two side opening. I decided that, for this set, that was going to be my plan. The other two doors went much faster.
I haven’t cut in the feeder slots yet.
Next step is to figure out how I’m building the hutch / support frame. I’m debating a couple of ideas in my head, but not sure how well any of them will actually work. Trying to figure out how to work in the water system and everything is part of that.
Pulled the remaining nest boxes today. Last night was the coldest it was going to be for several days, so this morning was the time. Trying to get these cages worked up and out so I can re-breed does and get them some space from fluff-a-butts.
I have also started working on a fodder system. Behold, my craptastic initial structure:
Honestly, I had some wire I had mis-measured in the process of making the cages, plus the trim-outs for the doors, and a couple of sections of “bad” wire from the rolls. That, some bending (and more scrapes on my hands), and a few j-clips, became that. It didn’t take long to put together, and if this all works out, I will replace it with something more … stable.
The trays are the largest ones I could find at a dollar store — I have 14. Seven are currently minimally drilled for drainage. The one at the bottom is not, which is why it is soaking seeds. My plan is to let the bottom one soak the seeds (a pound and a half), overnight, dump them into the top tray, and go from there.
We will see how spectacularly I fail at this, I guess.
For those interested in irony, I’m very allergic to the consumption of wheat. So, after a month or two of searching the local area high and low for available barley seed (which is the typical seed used for this purpose), I ended up having to pick up a bag of wheat seed. Everything else was cost-prohibitive, and the purpose for growing fodder is to try to make it more cost effective, right? So … the $20 bag of wheat seed was cost-effective. The $100 bags of everything else, not so much. Yes, I’ve thoroughly washed my hands.