RABBIT HUTCH WITH AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR:

IMG_2503IMG_2501So many of you have asked for plans to our RABBIT HUTCH w/ AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. Finally, we have had the time to answer your requests. With some minor repairs needed and a timely “vacancy,” we decided to take the left half of our hutches apart and REPAIR, UPGRADE, and DOCUMENT a HOW-TO with lots of pictures and step by step directions. Hopefully, this will answer any questions you might have, but if not please don’t hesitate to ask and we can walk you through the process. This project is 2 identical hutches placed side-by-side with a common roof. The hutches house a total of 4 rabbits (2 per hutch).

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First, we started with building the base or sub-floor out of 2×4’s. As you can see in the pictures we have written the dimensions of each piece in order to make the building process much easier and understandable. The rabbit “DEN” was given cross members in the sub-floor that only measured 3″ tall. This was to allow the 1/2″ plywood floor to sit flush. Over time the rabbits urine and poop in the den will rot away the floor so we included these easily removable floors to make our life a little bit easier down the road. After the sub-floor framing was done, it was time to cut out the 1/2″ x 1/2″ wire mesh that came in a roll 24″ wide. Originally, we built the hutch with 1″ x 1″ wire mesh because it was all we had at the time. However, this 1″ x 1″ mesh can be hard on the rabbits feet. It also has large enough openings for a baby to squeeze through. Using a simple construction stapler and a pair of wire cutters, the wire mesh floors were complete.

 

 

Next, we flipped the sub-floor upside down to install the legs. We cut the 4×4 wooden legs to 36″ in length. The legs were screwed in place with 3″ screws. With 2 members of the family being under 5′ tall it was important to keep the hutch at a height that was manageable for everyone in the family. (It’s important to know that the taller the hutch, the easier the poop will roll into your bucket.) Once the legs were firmly secure we flipped the hutch back on its feet to begin construction of the “SKELETON” or walls.

***THE BASIC SKELETON IS WHAT MAKES UP THE RABBIT HUTCH. YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANY LOOK YOU WANT BY HOW YOUR DECIDE TO COVER THE SKELETON. THIS WAY YOU CAN MAKE YOUR RABBIT HUTCH TRULY YOUR OWN AND A ONE OF A KIND***
The SKELETON is made up of 2×4’s that we cut apart to make 8′ 2×2’s. Each wall was nailed together with a framing nailer, however each wall was “SCREWED” to the sub-floor and each adjoining wall for easy removal or repair if needed. Once again, check the photos carefully as each 2×2 piece has its length written on it. We started with constructing and installing the back wall first and then built and installed the side and interior walls. Finally, we finished with the front walls and roof supports. This completes the structural interior skeleton of the hutch.
Next it was time to add some plywood walls to separate the den from the eating area and a center wall was added to create the 2 different living areas.
The plywood roof was added next, and covered with tar paper which was stapled down. We gave the hutches a tin roof. However, you can only see it on the final product because the 2 hutches share the same roof. The roof can only be installed once the hutches are in their final location to insure the roof is straight and square. To avoid any cuts from the roof edge a 2×4 was notched out and laid over the edge of the roof, thus covering any sharp edges.
After the roof was installed as much as it could be, we started the siding. We used 1″ decking material to give the hutches a “CABIN” look and feel. Being new to Missouri when we originally built the hutches, we had no idea how “truly cold” it got here so we wanted thick walls to keep the cold out, warmth in, and also to protect the rabbits from predators. Because the weather “normally” approaches from the SW, we placed the hutches on the EAST SIDE of our shop in order to protect them from the wind and rain. Also, we wanted the rabbits to get the direct morning sun during the winter and shade after noon during the HOT, HOT, SUMMER.
Finally it was time to build the doors for each den and install them. We used the same 1″ decking wood and connected them with 2 strips of wood on the inside of the door that opens downward by use of a typical interior door hinge you would find in your home. These were re-used from our house as we switched them out with nickel hinges. Two thin decorative strips ( the by-product of ripping a 2×4 apart to make 2 qty 2″x2″s) of wood were nailed into place using a finishing nailer and is purely decorative.
Now that the hutch is finished, it will be moved into its final resting place. There are several ways to install the hutch. We buried the legs of ours into the ground to keep them from blowing over in the wind or a predator pulling it over. Another way, would be to put “SKIS” on the bottom of the 4×4 legs. This will give the hutch a wider base and a lower center of gravity. This newly remodeled hutch will get some SKIS. We will then move our 2 rabbits into the new hutch while we remodel the right side. At that point, they will both be installed into a permanent location.
AND FINALLY FOR THE BEST PART….. THE POOP SHOOT!!!
Only when the hutch, or hutches are in there final resting place would I install the AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. You want to be able to make sure that the poop ramps are both at the same angle should you choose to make 2 hutches. And there are just too many variables to take into consideration when installing it. This is why is just best to wait and install it last. The last thing that you want to do is to take apart your hutch to because something doesn’t fit. By waiting you save yourself time and effort.
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The poop ramps were originally made from plywood which we painted with a rubber based paint. However, after a year the paint began to break down and prohibited the poop from rolling completely into the bucket. Once the paint broke down, then the plywood began to rot. Ideally, I would like to use a sheet of aluminum to avoid rust and corrosion. Sheet metal would work, but I would recommend painting it well, as rabbit urine has a very high acidic value to it. One option we have for the ramps is to staple “SCREEN DOOR” mesh to the 2×4 ramp frame. This will allow the poop to roll into the bucket while allowing the acidic urine to fall straight through. Of course plastic sheets or acrylic sheets will also work great with our humidity. Whatever we decide to use, I’m sure we will make it work.
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We hope this helps you in your quest to build your own rabbit hutch. Don’t forget to ask us if you have any questions about this project or any other. We are here to help anyway we can. Thanks again and HAPPY HOMESTEADING.
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CHICKEN COOP BOARDWALK:

NO MORE MUD:

As homesteaders we tend to put up with certain things, like how mud and chicken coops typically go hand in hand. Growing tired of walking and slipping in the mud every morning during the rainy season, it was time to do something. We had recently replaced our back deck. Instead of just throwing the old deck away, we decided to flip some of the boards over and give the lumber a new lease on life, as a CHICKEN COOP BOARDWALK.

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The coop sat in an old unused garden bed. By using the boards that made up the border of the old garden and several pallets, we were able to level out the deck and connect the coop to a nearby garden. We did incorporate 3 small gardening areas. One for wild flowers, a second for our beans, and a third for pickles/ tomatoes. We were also able to reuse some of the railing from our old deck and use it as a border around our “Pickle Patch.”

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Finally, the coop needed a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the space, as well as some new welded wire after an animal attack tore apart one wall. We will be the first to admit that it might not be our “dream coop,” but in the end we are truly happy with how it turned out.

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Most important though was NO MORE MUD and the project cost us NEARLY NOTHING due to the fact that almost all of the material was reclaimed!!!

 

TIME TO WINTERIZE THE CHICKEN COOP:

12108246_746342962158778_6977211883427292773_nHOW TO MAKE AN ANTI-FREEZE WATERING STATION:

While there is still a bit of warmth in the air, now is a great time to winterize your chicken coop by installing a heat lamp and an anti-freeze watering station. Nothing is worse than having to go out into the cold to thaw out or replace your chickens water twice a day during the winter because it’s frozen.

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To fix this frozen water problem, we picked up a terracotta pot with base, a lamp kit, and an extension cord splicer at our local hardware store (LOWES) for under $20. We like this lamp kit because it comes with the clamp already built in the kit. It’s a bit more money, but makes life so much easier than having to build one yourself. Just clamp the light to the side of the pot using a 40 Watt bulb to start. We used a scrap piece of cardboard on the clamp to avoid cracking the pot. We then placed 3 old bricks we had laying around on the property into the coop and placed the pot with light kit attached upside down. Finally, we put the chicken water bowl into the terracotta base and placed it onto the bottom of the pot. The bottom of the pot has a hole drilled into it which allows the heat from the bulb to heat up the terracotta base that the water bowl sits in. This heat from the light bulb warms the water just enough to keep it from freezing.

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We also run an extension cord into the coop from our shop that we plugged into the splicer. From that we can plug in the heat lamp to keep the chickens warm and the light kit as well to keep the water from freezing.

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As the temperature drops, depending on where you live, you may need a higher wattage bulb. We start with a 40W bulb and go up to a 60W if water still freezes due to extreme cold temps.

PUMPKIN PARSLEY – BREATH BUSTER DOG TREAT RECIPE:

We love this recipe because pumpkin is wonderful for upset tummy’s or gas and parsley works great on that bad doggy breath. Whip these natural DOG TREATS up for your furry babies!

12096204_743186909141050_5444454918652747992_nIngredients:

Water
2 Eggs
1/2 cup puree’d pumpkin or canned no-sugar added pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dry milk
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh pa
rsley
2 1/2 cups Flour

 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Directions:
MIx – Eggs, Pumpkin, Salt, Milk, Parsley & Flour
Dough will look crumbly. Add a little water if needed. I didn’t use any water. I just kneed dough really good into a round.

12112332_743187032474371_4430510237352545331_nRoll out about 1/2 inch on a floured board. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Pierce with fork in the middle.

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Bake 20 minutes and then turn over. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Let cool and place in a sealed container. This makes approx. 15 treats. Freeze if you are not going to use within the next week. Our fir babies love these!!!

**If you are looking for Bone Cookie Cutters. This is the best time to look for them. They tend to be in Halloween Cookie Cutter Kits.

GOAT PERCH

11107174_681464025313339_21930811892269756_nSo “THEY” say, that if you give goats things to do and play with then goats won’t get bored and try to escape.” Not exactly sure who “THEY” are, but “THEY” make sense. So with a few 2×4’s and some slats off a old pallet we made these platforms for the goats to climb on. We were actually quite surprised how much Tomato and Pickles love this simple project.11351189_681462625313479_466044993878481169_n

When we decided to expand our goat pen by removing our fence panels, ( to see how to build this goat fence for Nigerian Dwarf Goats- https://littlemissourihomestead.wordpress.com/…/goat-fenci…/ ) we were left with 2 line posts in the middle of our new goat pen. Instead of pulling them out, we decided to give the goats something to climb on.11219098_681462278646847_8089434269239968375_n

We think it turned out well, plus this project only took us an hour to complete. However, the true test is whether the goats like it and they really seem to love it.

BILLY GOAT GRUFF BRIDGE

IMG_4089This project was one of the easier ones… right up to the point when the goats kept climbing on it while we were trying to complete the installation. Errrrr!IMG_4065

First we cut several pieces of scrap 2×4’s into 2 1/2″ lengths and drilled a hole through the middle of each piece slightly bigger than the cable. IMG_4069Next we fed a cable from a wire rope kit we had laying around though the hole of each 2×4, much like stringing popcorn on a thread. IMG_4072After stringing 18 wood blocks onto the cable, we fed the cable through holes drilled in each perch and and then strung another 18 blocks down the other side. IMG_4072At this point we spaced out our blocks how we wanted them and clamped off the wire so it was secure. Once we had the desired spacing and length we nailed pallet slats onto each 2×4 block. IMG_4076The slats we cut to about 22″ in length.

It wasn’t easy clamping off the wires underneath the goat perch by just one person and we would recommend getting a friend to help with this part of the project. All in all, it was fun to build and the goats love it.IMG_4086