Sunday, September 16, 2012

DIY Rabbit Hutch for 4-H Show Rabbits

Before agreeing to get the boys our new Mini-Rex, Raven, Michael and I thought long and hard about the housing situation. Keeping two rabbits in the house works most of the time, but three... that may be taking it too far. At least for us.  Jabba had recently went through a huge molt and Bai's entire bedroom became covered in fur. As a result, we had to move the cages outside on our porch. This worried us a lot. Rabbits need to stay cool and late in the afternoon the sun shines brightly on our porch. I had resorted to hanging a dark sheet up on the posts to block the sun and create shade for them. We were also running  fans 24/7. There had to be another way. This was too much headache with just two rabbits. No way could we keep this up and add another rabbit (and future babies) into the mix as well.

The idea of buying a hutch for Jabba and Jango had crossed our minds several times before. We thought they deserved fresh air and a little more room than what they had in their indoor cages. However, when we saw the prices on those things, we knew that was not something that would work with our budget. The only way we'd be able to have a hutch for our rabbits would be to build one ourselves. 

We sat down and made a list of things we wanted and needed in a hutch.  The list of wants far out weighted the list of needs. Some of the needs were: safety from predators, safety from each other, protection from the elements. One want that we actually considered a need was a wire bottom. Our boys show the Mini-Rex's at 4-H rabbit shows as well as at ARBA shows and the State Fair. So cleanliness is a must. You don't want them to sit in their waste and get stains on their coats and feet as the judges will deduct points for that. We knew from past experience that Jabba will lay in his litter box and a solid floor just wouldn't work.

Since we already had cages that we purchased at tractor supply a while back, and the one I made for Raven from a dog crate, we considered building something similar to a giant shelf to put the cages on instead of building a full hutch. But ultimately, we decided to just go full force if we were going to do it at all. As we will still have our current cages when we need them for babies.

Michael and I are not carpenters. We are complete amateurs.  We didn't have any tools that we would need to build something of this caliber. Well, with the exception of a drill, screwdriver, and hammer. Thank God, for dear ol' Dad. He loaned us everything we would need. 

The wood we used to build the hutch didn't cost us a penny. Being the hoarder I am, I had loaded up a pile from the dumpster a while back. I knew I would end up using it to build something out of, eventually. It was very nice wood that had once been the bookshelves in a library and was already cut at 36 inches in length though they were different widths.

Michael and I worked on the hutch every afternoon for about a week. There was a lot of trial and error. It was an educational experience to say the least. 

I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the basic frame. We used 2x2s and 2x4s to build it. The dimensions for the entire frame was 6 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 2 feet high. The dimensions for each individual section is 2 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 2 feet high.

In this photo, you are looking through the bottom of the hutch. We had already put the siding and ceiling on and were laying the boards out on the back. We used the recycled library shelves for this part. They were 36 inches long but various widths. We just had to lay them out and see which way they fit best. It was a miracle we didn't have to do any cutting on the widths. It all worked out just right. 

At this point we had the supports in the bottom for the wire and dividers in to make 3 individual sections.
Here we had just finished building the doors. We used some boards we had laying around for these. They are about 2.5 in x 0.5 in. Ignore the buckets in the picture. We had citronella bamboo torches stuck down in the dirt in them. The bugs were eating us alive.
We then wired the bottom. I purchased a very heavy gauge wire at our local Farmers Supply. It was 2 ft wide x 5 ft long and cost $3.89 a roll. It only took 3 rolls for the entire hutch.
Here we had put wire on the doors, added the hinges, and the belt line roof.  We paid about $2 a pack for the hinges at Walmart and we already had the strips of old belt line.
We used logs from our property for the legs. My Dad cut them to length and wedged the tops with his chain saw so the hutch could sit down on them and be attached as well.
Here you see Raven relaxing in the corner of her section. It is pretty big back in there. They can hop around, stand up, etc.
Although it is far from perfect and not one thing on it is square (even though we used a square), we are proud of it. 

I went out on a limb and decided to make a video about the hutch and our rabbits. Let me know what you think, but be kind. This is my very first vlog. 

And last but certainly not least... we FINALLY got a chance to put the metal over top of the belt line. It was old metal my brother saved when he put a new roof on his house.

We are getting closer to done everyday.

So, what do you think? 

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