Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shak Rabbits

Welcome back to The Shak.

My keyboard is dust covered. Between rain, wind, cold, teaching and tutoring, I had no occasion to use it. I will not bore you with reports of feeding and cleaning. Though I assure you these things happen. Only after having accomplished something do I blog. Here is what I accomplished.

I left off last time with three of the six new cages inhabited. The top three remained unusable due to a lack of sanitation. That problem has been solved. All six cages are now in play.
As I left things on April 9th. 
Three of six cages were habitable.
Rabbits in top cages urinating and defecating on the rabbits in the cages below was the problem. I decided to add a sheet of galvanized steel roofing between the upper and lower cages. This sheet I fastened at a forward slope which overhangs the front of the cages; thus, the refuse falls harmlessly to the floor where I can quickly and easily scrape it away with an old plastic snow shovel, which as fate would have it, is imperfect enough to level out the floor's imperfections.

I will most likely add a "gutter" and "downspout" in the near future. I needed the cages to function as cages. I needed them now. Aesthetics will wait.

My first step was to dismantle everything I had built. All the pieces will still be used, but I had to make certain changes. I welded two small brackets with a 5/16" hole drilled in each to the original L brackets. These additional brackets hold the chains suspending the lower cage. They also serve to widen the area between the chains allowing the steel roofing to sit comfortably between them, thus covering the entirety of the lower cage.
You can clearly see the steel roofing sloping forward
and overhanging the lower cage
in this picture of the first finished duo.
The galvanized roofing is 36" wide plus about an inch of overlap on each side. This makes it the perfect width to cover the 36" wide cages. I cut the steel to 38" long. It slopes downward from back to front. Being mounted to a 1" x 4" pine board on the wall behind and below the top cage, it slopes down to rest on the top front of the lower cage.
Front picture of the third duo of cages. Notice the tensioning chain running below the top cage and between the brackets.
When installing the whole thing, I began by bending the top link of the chains to a 90 degree angle. This allows the chain to hang well. Slipping the end link over a 5/16" bolt and using a lock washer, I bolted the chains to the brackets before mounting the brackets to the wall. The space becomes very confined once the brackets are affixed.
This is a detail picture of the right bracket of the final pair. You can see both suspension brackets, hardware and chains. The chain going off to the left is the tensioning chain to which the bottom front of the top cage is j-clipped.
After mounting the brackets to the wall, I bent some 4" pieces of 16ga. wire into clips. These I hung from the lowest chain link and fastened to the bottom of the lower cage. Four clips and four chains later, the lower cage hung suspended from the brackets.
Rather a blurry picture;
however, it shows the clip
which is what I wanted you to see.

A clip and chain fixed between the bracket
and the bottom of the lower cage.
At this point, I screwed the 1" x 4" pine board to the wall slightly below and between the two brackets. Next, I slid the steel roofing into place  upon the pine board, below the brackets and resting atop the front top edge of the lower cage. Happy with it's placement, I screwed the roofing to the pine board.
Here you see the bracket with chain,
 the steel roofing at its angle and
the pine board to which it is screwed.
With the roofing in place, I cradled the top cage between the brackets. A piece of chain between the two front chain bolts, pulled the brackets tightly against the sides of the top cage. I then j-clipped the chain to the bottom front of the top cage. The cage cannot slide in any direction and will not fall until the walls around it do.

To mitigate the swinging inevitable when using chain, I also j-clipped each suspension chain as high up on the side of the cage as space and my patience allowed. The lack of space obviated any pretense to perfection.

With the first two cages done, I moved on to the second and finally the third duo. As is so often the case, the first pair took longer than the second and third pairs combined.

Having installed and filled a feeder and a waterer in each of the top cages, the second doe's bunnies now have a place to call home if only for a short time.
Six serviceable cages. The closest cage pair houses the first doe's progeny. The rest hold that of the second doe. That is a total of twenty-one bunnies.
By short time I mean, aside from the six I select for breeding, the rest will be available for live sale or meat; whichever you prefer. Both does have already been re-bred. The first one is more than half way through her second pregnancy with the other doe ten days behind.

I will cover all this very soon. When I share with you all the reasons you should be mixing some rabbit into your diet and how I can help you with that.

Thanks for stopping. Come again soon.

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