Updated: Jun 15, 2020
I had planned to have all this built in the spring, filled with a breeding trio, and hoped by end of summer that I would be breeding them and raising kits before fall. Oh, how plans change. Check out this post for the road so far, and why our grand meat rabbit schemes were derailed. It's been a long road but we are finally getting it into gear.
OK, that was a cheesy segue. We could easily have continued putting off our greater homesteading plans until it was more convenient. There is always something going on, especially with 2 more adults in the house, homeschooling moving forward into senior year for my eldest and kindergarten for the middle-little, and a myriad of other tasks that are being done or need to be done. It's easy to keep saying "maybe next weekend". And that's what we said for many weekends. I finally told Kallo that I feel like we need to treat it like a now or never thing. There will always be something else to do, but if we want to do this homesteading thing, we need to just do it! NOW! Not next weekend. So, despite the fact that he'd worked all day and it was 7 in the evening on a Monday, we dug out the rabbit cage supplies I'd ordered back in January. In fact, they had arrived at the store while we were in Florida for our emergency trip (for that story, check out the post mentioned previously).
They weren't buried too badly and were still in the plastic since we'd picked them up, thrown them in the garage when we'd arrived home, and just let them collect webs. We grabbed the Storey's guide to raising rabbits, checked out the dimensions and pictures, and started unrolling everything. We didn't get too far, since we'd started later in the evening and the daylight fades early, but we had started, which meant we would continue.
Tuesday I finished clipping the cage complex together and we went to Menards after Kallo got off work to get the lumbar and roofing for the hutch. The total was just over $200 but Kallo sneaked a few tools into the cart when I wasn't looking, so I blame him! We didn't get much done that night since Menards took us hours, but we got to work on Wednesday evening and got together most of the frame.
We opted to make it all one hutch for convenience while we figure out what we are doing. I also contacted the rabbit breeders in our area. I knew if we had a deadline of "bunnies will be here in 2 days!" we would work better. I had a buck and doe lined up for us to pick up Friday, 2 New Zealand, and another doe, a 3/4 silver fox/New Zealand mix, to pick up a week later.
The metal cage can be removed and replaced if needed, as its only connected to the wooden frame by staples along the top edge.
I wanted a top opening cage for ease of cleaning and caring for the occupants, without having to shove half my upper body into a small door. This also made it easy to attach a latch to each stall that can have padlocks on it, for security.
We used corrugated PVC roofing, and angled it, with a slight overhang, to keep rain off the furry occupants and their feeders on the outside.
The stalls are slightly different sizes; the bachelor pad being the smallest at 24X30 and the doe's having 45x30 each so there is plenty of room for the growing kits. We will build more cages, perhaps rabbit tractors, for the grow outs later on, but for now, this is the rabbit palace.
By Thursday we had everything fabricated and ready to go. In the garage, anyway. We had to carry the heavy, awkwardly bulky thing out to its permanent place. That requires going down 4 earthen, railroad tie lined steps that lead around the side of the house, which was a bit tough, but we managed to get it out there and into place.
I feel pretty good about the security of our hutch against the local predators, which includes coyotes. I suppose we won't know for sure unless something happens, but I do hope it doesn't come to that. Better to have the provisions in place and not have them tested!
Check out THIS POST for the meat rabbits' arrival!