A Sufficient Life
|Posted by Shannon on May 9, 2012 at 12:20 AM|
Alrighty! You have decided on a breed (or three or four!) and now you just need to figure out where to keep them. Sounds simple enough....you will need the following:
1) A cage, or cages
2) A place to put said cage/cages
3) Somewhere to purchase said cage/cages
4) A way to keep said cage/cages clean and tidy
At first glance, these don't seem too difficult. However, once you start really looking into it, the challenges start to pop up.
There are MANY different brands, styles, types of cages or hutches on the market. They are not all equal and they can and do function quite differently. There are a few things to think about:
a) How many rabbits will you have? (to start with....they always seem to multiply!)
You will need one cage for each doe, one for each buck and at least one growout cage for every two does. So, if you start with 2 does/1buck, you will need at *least* 4 cages.
b) What breed of rabbits will you have? (this will determine the size/style of cage/hutch you need)
Dwarf breeds can use a shorter height, commercial breeds will need a taller, larger cage and giant breeds will need a more supportive type of floor.
Figuring out the perfect spot BEFORE you rush out and get cages will help you out in the long run. Better to look at all the options now, than to have to redo it all later. Things to consider:
c) Will the rabbits be raised indoors or outdoors? (you may need cages with drop pans...)
Indoor rabbitries generally use cages with drop pans. These are emptied regularly and may or may not use some kind of absorbent material in the pan, ie. shavings, bedding pellets, etc. Some use slant boards and collection receptacles instead. Outdoor rabbitries have a few options, letting it fall on the ground, slant boards to channel the waste to a specific spot, worm beds beneath to collect the manure. It is important to have this chosen and planned for ahead of time.
d) How much space do you have? (this will determine your layout)
If you have more vertical space than horizontal, look at stacking cages to maximize your available space. Is your space long and narrow? Put cages on the outsides with an aisle down the middle to give easy access to both sides.
Once you have this all figured out, you will need to find either a place that sells the cages or a place that sells the materials to make the cages. Feed stores will often carry cages or cage materials. Local pet supply houses are also a good resource. There are several online retailers that sell quality products you can order and have shipped to your location as well. Here are a few:
If you are looking at wire mesh cages, and I strongly suggest that you do, keep the following in mind:
1) Look for 14gauge, Galvanized AFTER Weld (GAW), wire mesh.
2) 1"x2" for the top and sides, 1/2" x 1" for the floor.
3) Cages for breeding does should have "baby saver" wire, or a row of about 4" at the bottom of all four sides where the wires are closely spaced to prevent kits from crawling to the edge and falling out of the cage. THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!!! Kits can and will crawl a long distance if they happen to get pulled out of the nestbox when nursing.
4) In general, sizes for commercial rabbit cages are 30" x 36" x 18" for breeding does, 24" x 30" x 18" for bucks and open does, and growout cages of at least 24" x 30" x 18".
5) Make sure the doors are large enough to accomodate the nest boxes you plan to use.
6) Don't cheat on quality to get quantity! You will regret it in the long run...
7) If you plan to construct your own cages, have the following:
- Eye protection ("You'll put your eye out!")
- Gloves (only if you plan to actually *use* your hands afterwards)
- Heavy duty wire cutters (two pair) or a grinding wheel
- Needle nose and blunt nose pliers (at least one pair each)
- Measuring tape/sharpie to mark wire (don't trust your eyes to remember where)
- Good quality J clips or C rings and two heavy duty appliers (you will need a buddy)