My wife and I started the rabbit hutch last weekend. And as things happen in life we ran out of time and were unable to finish the hutch. This weekend we were going to be a little pressed for time, but I was hoping to get it finished. Besides the hutch my wife and I had a pageant for my daughter in Newton Texas on Saturday, then a birthday party for two of the grandkids on Sunday. Saturday was a no-go, so we only had Sunday to work on the hutch.
Sunday morning my wife and I moved the rabbit hutch from in front of the wood shed to under a large oak tree in the back yard. When my wife asked why we were moving the hutch to work on it, I asked her if she wanted to work in the sun.
The drops from the legs are long enough to make cross members for the floor. When the floor was being built a cross member was placed every 2 feet. This left a space of 2×3 feet that was not supported. As a result there was a lot of slack in the floor. After the extra cross members were installed the floor was reenforced and the extra slack was removed.
Rabbit Hutch Doors
The doors measure 24 inches square. Due to the size of the door 3 hinges were installed and 2 latches. With one latch installed in the middle of the door there was a lot of slack in the bottom. I was worried about a raccoon pulling on the bottom of the door to the point where the door tore apart, that a latch was installed about 4 inches from the top and bottom.
The doors are made out of 2×2 pressure treated wood, 1/2 inch hardware cloth nailed to the inside with 3/4 inch galvanized staples, boards are secured with 2 1/2 inch galvanized wood screws, 2 inch hinges secure the door to the frame of the rabbit hutch.
1/8 pilot holes were drilled before the wood screws were installed. The pilot holes help prevent the wood from splitting.
I might have to install some 1×4 boards at a 45 degree angle to add some support to the doors.
Rabbit Hutch Roof
The roof was pretty simple. All I needed was 3 sheets of tin 8 feet long, then cut all three sheets in half. To be honest, I think tin-snips are a waste of time. Do not try this at home, as I am a professionally trained redneck.
I stacked all three pieces of tin on top of each other, then used a skilsaw to cut the tin in half. If you are going to try this, do so at your own risk. If you cut your fingers off, do not come crying to me.
After cutting the tin I used 1 1/2 inch roofing screws to secure the tin the the rabbit hutch.
It was right at dark when the roof was being installed. To save time I installed the screws every third rib in the tin.
Whats next – The next step is to build, or buy, some kind of hide-box for the rabbits to get inside of. I thought about buying a 5 gallon bucket, cutting a hold in the lid, and putting the bucket in the cage for the rabbits to use. But I do not want the rabbits eating plastic.
The end walls seem to have a lot of slack in the wire. To fix that problem I might buy a pressure treated 2×4, cut a couple of pieces, screw the 2×4 to the frame, then secure the wire with 3/4 inch galvanized staples.
Maybe get a couple of hanging feeders. The rabbits like to sit in their food bowl. To keep things nice and sanitary, I probably need to mount a hanging feeder on a wall of their cage.
One of the rabbits has a 16 ounce water bottle. That will need to be upgraded to a 32 ounce water bottle before the summer heat kicks in.
Why Not Use Wire Cages
I like things that have multiple uses. A wire cage is just that, a wire cage. This rabbit hutch is much more then “just” a hutch.
Lets say my wife and I get some chicks, or get a broody hen. The chicks can be kept in this hutch, or the broody hen can be moved to the hutch to safely sit on her eggs. This protects the hen and her eggs from other chickens and chicken snakes. If a chicken is injured, the other chickens will peck at the wound.
After my wife and I get moved to the homestead I hope to build some more rabbit hutches along one wall of the chicken coop. I might even have two rows of rabbit hutches, one row inside the chicken coop and one row outside the coop, with the two rows back-to-back.
I would like to have at least 1 free rabbit hutch to keep an injured chicken, or a broody hen in. Having a hutch this size gives me a place to keep rabbits and chickens for a variety of purposes.
After my wife and I get moved and get the new chicken coop built I will probably build some basic 3 foot X 3 foot cages.
One of the 3 X 4 cages will be for breeding the does. The larger cage allows for the birthing box, without crowding the doe.
Long term plans – Rabbits are part of my long term SHTF survival plans. If not for their meat, then for the excellent fertilizer they produce.
It has been awhile back, but someone posted a comment on one of my gardening videos asking about organic gardening. At the time I think I was planting potatoes, or maybe squash. But sooner or later that commercial fertilizer will run out. So what do you do when you run out of fertilizer? Well, you have compost bins, rabbits, chickens or some form of livestock for organic fertilizer.
After my wife and I get moved to the homestead I would like to reach a point where I am no longer dependent commercially produced fertilizer. To do this, the plan is to develop a garden that uses mostly compost, rabbit and chicken manure. It is going to take some time to get everything up and running, but once everything is in its place, my food production will be self-sufficient.
The rabbits will provide food through two sources, meat, and their manure for the garden.
To make the collection of the manure easier, I thought about building some kind of ramp under the rabbit cages for the poop to roll down. At the bottom of the ramp have a wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrow gets full, just run it out to the garden or compost pile, dump the manure, then place the wheelbarrow back under the ramp.
Fresh meat after SHTF – In the long run I would like to have maybe 12 or more rabbits. That 12 is an arbitrary number thrown out there as a point for discussion. If I could get 4 or 5 does dropping a litter every 4 weeks or so, I think my family would be set on meat production.
Between the rabbits, eggs and chickens, I think my family would have a steady source of fresh meat and protein during a long term SHTF situation.
Rabbit starvation may be a consideration, but when you through in a couple of eggs a day, and rotate out chicken meat and rabbit meat, I think everything will be ok.
Besides the rabbits and chickens I would like to get a couple of sheep, pigs, maybe some goats and a couple of cows. But all of those are topics for another article. Keep in mind I do not plan on living off rabbits alone. Part of my long term goal is to have a supply of meat from a variety of sources, and not just rabbits.
Forum Thread – My rabbit hutch project