Home > Rabbits, Tiny House > Outdoor Hutch For Meat Rabbits

Outdoor Hutch For Meat Rabbits

When I started raising meat rabbits over a year ago, I started raising my rabbits indoors so I could minimize the impact of external factors during my initial learning phase. This turned out to be a great decision since it made it easy for me to pursue things such as automatic waterer and artificial lighting during the winter months. Most importantly, it allowed me to use network cameras to observe the rabbits remotely so I could learn about their natural behaviors such as nesting, birthing, nursing, etc. The drawback to an indoor setup is the additional work required with ventilation and cleanup.

15 months after my venture into meat rabbits, my operation has expanded quite a bit in size and the daily cleanup of the rabbits’ litter trays has become quite burdensome. While this daily chore is not difficult for me, it is not something that I can expect anyone else to do. This has made it very difficult for me to go on extended leave lasting more than a couple of days.

This weekend I finally tackled a project that I have been mulling over for some time and began building an outdoor hutch for the meat rabbits. While the plan initially involved building a small rabbit hutch, it soon mushroomed to building a large structure in the side that can house not only the rabbits but offer covered protection for my gardening tools, mower, and chipper. This construction project would also offer great experience for future projects such as building a pole barn at the orchard and tiny house at the homestead lot.

I decided to build a 8 foot by 32 foot covered structure in the east side yard which is shaded for a good part of the day. With their dense coats, the rabbits tolerate cold temperatures much better than hot temperatures so this side yard is ideal. I wanted this structure to be well built and to resemble a pergola so that if I ever decided to move very little modification would need to be made for it to be repurposed from a rabbitry/tool shed to an attractive pergola.

My goal this weekend was to build out the first half of the structure as proof of concept and to work out any kinks in the design and architecture which I have been tossing around in my mind. I began by constructing the skeleton of the first half section (8 foot by 16 foot) by assembling 6 4×4 posts with 4 2x6x16 headers and 2x6x8 rafters.

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I then constructed the frame for the back wall with 3 2x4x8 per 8 foot section. This was done using Simpson strong ties.

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Once the back wall frame was constructed, I then attached corrugated roof panel. I chose these panels since they offer solid rain and wind protection. More importantly, they will not absorb moisture from the environment and from the rabbit urine. As such, they should be very easy to clean with routine hosing.

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I then tested out the hanging of the rabbit cages. After some trial and error, I settled on passing electrical conduits through the row of rabbit cages and then wrapping jack chain around the conduit to hang off of the overhead rafters. Each 24in x 24in x 18in cage weighs about 10 pounds and will have a total weight of about 20 pounds when holding a 10 pound rabbit. The row of 4 cages that I tested was hung with four sections of jack chain rated for 29 pounds.

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The proof of concept run this weekend was very successful. During the next few days, I plan on finishing the first half of the structure by installing the purlins and the overhead roof panels. This will be followed with side wall construction to further reduce wind draft. Once the first half of the structure is completed, I will be able to house 7 24in x 24in x 18in cages outside and have all of my 30 or grow-out meat rabbits relocated outside. This will leave just my 10 breeders indoors.

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