It is not cost effective to build just a few cages, you would be better off buying them. However, if you are planning to get a jump start and build a lot of cages to house your future population of meat rabbits, here are some plans for you to follow.
To start off with, you will need to figure out what size cage you need. Here are some recommendations:
Rabbits: Bucks, Non-Nursing Does
|Size of Rabbit||Space Requirement
|3-5 lbs||180 sq in. (14″ x 14″)|
|6-8 lbs||360 sq in. (19″ x 19″)|
|9-11 lbs||540 sq in. (24″ x 24″)|
|12+ lbs||720 sq in. (27″ x 27″)|
Nursing Does, Litter of Growouts
|Size of Rabbit||Space Requirement|
|3-5 lbs||576 sq in. (24″ x 24″)|
|6-8 lbs||720 sq in.(27″ x 27″)|
|9-11 lbs||864 sq in.(29″ x 29″)|
|12+ lbs||1080 sq in.(33″ x 33″)|
You will notice that a nursing doe needs much more space than the other rabbits. For this reason, most breeders make “breeder cages” specifically for housing does that are nearing their due date. Once the doe gives birth and the buns are ready to be weaned, the doe can be moved back to her normal cage while the buns stay in the breeder cage until they are ready for slaughter. The breeder cages should have extra wire around the bottom half of the cage to keep newborn babies from getting out.
Another thing to consider is the dividers between cages. Rabbits like to chew, even on each other, and it’s not uncommon for some ear chewing to happen which can cause infection and attract flies. Solid dividers also keep the rabbits from spraying one another and staining fur. One alternative to solid dividers is leaving a gap between the cages, which can also conveniently be used as a hay rack.
For the front of the cage, you will need a large door. This needs to be large enough for nesting boxes to fit through and to allow you the room to reach in for cleaning and catching rabbits. You will also need to consider everything that needs to go in the cage (besides the rabbit of course). Crocks, water bottles, feeders, hay racks, etc. Make sure you allow enough room for everything with plenty of room for the rabbit to be able to move around.
- The most important tool you will buy is a good pair of wire cutters. Don’t skimp on this piece of advice. It may not seem so hard to cut a wire, but when you are making hundreds of little cuts, the $25 you spend on these will be worth it.
- Another tool you don’t want to skimp on is a tool to remove J-Clips. These should be available at your local Tractor Supply Company or someplace similar.
- J-Clip Pliers. These will be used to put the J-Clips on. They usually run $5-$10.
- J-Clips. You will need a ton of these, if you think you have enough, buy some more.
Other things that might come in handy:
- Needle nose pliers
- Regular pliers
- One foot of 2×4 (for attaching the baby-proof wire).
- Cage edging for sharp edges that will be exposed such as door openings.
Choosing Your Wire Mesh
You should use 14 gauge galvanized wire that has been galvanized after welding. It will last longer. Don’t get any wire that is coated with vinyl, rabbits love to chew and the wire will have rough areas that can make your cage harder to clean.
- 1″ x 2″ wire mesh is fine for the fronts, tops, backs and sides of the cages.
- ½” x 1″ will be needed for the bottoms and the baby-proofing.
- Door Latches and wire with the same gauge.
The following is for three 24″ x 24″ row of cages (6 ft total length). This size should be big enough for your standard cage (not for your breeder cages, you will want to make those bigger).
- Floor: Cut one piece of the ½” x 1″ wire cut to 72″ x 24″ (for breeder cages, add 3″ on all sides so you would want your cut to be 78″ x 30″)
- Inside Baby-Proofing: Cut two pieces of the ½” x 1″ to 24″ x 3″ (these will attach to the dividers).
- Dividers/Ends: Cut four pieces of the 1″ x 2″ mesh to 24″ x 24″. (two outside walls and two dividers)
- Front and Back Walls: Cut two pieces of 1″ x 2″ mesh to 72″ x 24″ (don’t worry about the doors yet)
- Top: Cut one piece of 1″ x 2″ mesh 72″ x 24″
- Doors: Cut three pieces of 1″ x 2″ mesh to 15″ x 15″
- Door Reinforcements: Cut three pieces of 1″ x 2″ mesh to 5″ x 15″
Putting It All Together
- Feel both sides of the wire mesh you cut for the floor piece, one side will be smoother than the other. This is the side you want facing up.
- Attach the end pieces, using the J-clips a few inches apart, to each end of the floor.
- Measure the floor of the cage from one end every 2 feet. This is where you will attach the dividers using the same method as the end pieces.
- Now add the front and back panels, attaching them to the floor piece, the end pieces and the dividers every few inches with the J-Clips.
- Place the top piece on and attach it in the same fashion as before.
Now it’s time to cut the doors out. You can put your door on either side of the front of the cage, but I don’t recommend putting it in the middle. You will probably want to hang feeders and waterers on the front of the cage for easy access. I chose to place my doors on the left side of the cage front. When cutting the opening, keep in mind it must be smaller than the door itself in order for the latch to work properly. I cut my door opening 13″ x 13″.
Before putting the door on the cage, you will want to completely assemble it. Attaching the latch and getting it all lined up is tricky, this is why you want it all put together before attaching it. You will probably need to make some changes before actually attaching the door. Attach the latch to the door, evenly between the top and bottom of the door. Once it’s attached, hold the door to the cage to make sure the latch lines up and is where it should be. Now put the door reinforcement on the front of the door, overlapping the end of the latch to secure it in place. Attach the door to the cage using J-Clips on the hinge side of the door/cage. Test the latch to make sure it holds the door shut securely. Rinse and repeat for the other two doors.
Hanging the cage is relatively easy, although you will want the help of at least one other person. Screw eyehooks in the ceiling or beams (if you are putting it in a barn). You will want 6 total hooks, one at each corner of each individual section in the cage. Hang your chain from the eyehooks using S hooks. Determine what height you want the top of the cage to be, and attach the chain to the cage using more S hooks. If you are building and hanging multiple cages, you can attach the cages together using the J-Clips so they are more solid.
That’s it! You are finished! Now you can install feeders, waterers, etc and introduce your meat rabbits to their new home. Make sure you put a board or something solid in there for the rabbit to lay on so they don’t develop sores from the wire.