If you have rabbits, you have manure to manage. Whether for pets or meat, rabbits produce a lot of manure for their size. An adult rabbit will create about 50 lbs. of manure per year. Rabbit manure is nutrient-rich, especially in nitrogen, and is a dry pellet that is safe to put directly into gardens or feed to worms. Raising rabbits and worms can easily go hand-in-hand with beneficial results. Building a rabbit hutch with a worm-composting bin is an excellent way to manage the manure, create a garden-soil additive and even raise worms for sale.
Things You'll Need
- One 36-by-39-inch wire mesh of 16-gauge wire with .5-inch openings
- Strong wire cutters
- 75 small hen-cage clips, 2 large hen-cage clips
- Two 36-inch steel rods or two 36-inch 2-by-4 boards
- Two 36-by-18 or 36-by-24-inch wire mesh of 14-gauge wire with 1- or 2-inch openings
- Two 30-by-18 or 30-by-24-inch wire mesh of 14-gauge wire with 1- or 2-inch openings
- One 36-by-30-inch wire mesh of 14-gauge wire with 1- or 2-inch openings
- One 36-by-40 inch plywood
- Nine 36-inch 2-by-4 boards
- A plastic or wooden bin, 18 to 30 inches deep
- Shredded newspaper, peat moss or dried leaves
- 100 red worms (available from bait stores or online from worm suppliers)
Lay out the floor of the cage. The standard size for rabbit hutches -- 30 inches deep by 36 inches long -- can house a doe and her litter, or five to seven small-sized rabbits. Use 16-gauge welded wire with .5-inch openings to protect the rabbits' feet.
Cut a 3-by-3-inch square out of each corner of a 36-by-39-inch floor wire. Fold the sides up to where the corners meet to create a 3-inch wall. Attach the corners using two small hen-cage clips at each corner.
Reinforce the floor with two 36-inch steel rods along the long sides. Alternatively, nail the floor onto a wooden frame and bend the nails down completely.
Build the sides of your rabbit house. Use 14-gauge galvanized wire with 1-by-1-inch or 1-by-2-inch openings for the sides. Make the sides 18 to 24 inches in height. Attach the wire sides to the bent-up bottom with hen-cage clips, and then clip the sides together every 6 inches.
You can add a door by cutting an opening in the front of the cage and using large hen-cage clips as hinges. File down all protruding wires to protect yourself and the rabbits.
Attach a 30-by-36-inch piece of 14-gauge galvanized wire with 1-by-1-inch or 1-by-2-inch openings for the top of the hutch using hen-cage clips.
If the hutch will be outdoors, fasten a 36-by-40-inch piece of plywood to the top to protect rabbits from the elements. Allow the plywood to hang over the cage by 2 inches on each side. Create a pitched roof by nailing the plywood to a 2-by-4-foot board along the front of the top wire.
Set the rabbit hutch on 3-foot-tall legs. Make each leg from two 2-by-4 boards set together at a 90-degree angle. Nail the cage to the legs and hammer down the nail heads. If you used a wooden frame to support the bottom, nail the frame to the legs.
Build or install the worm bin. If the rabbits and worms will live indoors, use a rectangular plastic tub to house the worms. Use a tub 18 to 30 inches deep and large enough in dimension to catch the droppings, but small enough that you can remove it from between the hutch legs. Use the plastic tub outdoors or build a worm bin out of wood.
Fill the first 6 inches of the worm bin with shredded newspapers, peat moss or dried leaves. Allow rabbit waste to accumulate to at least 3 inches before adding 100 red worms. Add more worms, if necessary, as waste accumulates.
- "Mother Earth News": The Many Rewards of Rabbits
- "Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture"; Toby Hemenway; 2000
- Photo Credit small rabbits image by Vera Kailova from Fotolia.com
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