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Predator protection

 
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Okay, getting into rabbits. I'm thus far getting 5 young California rabbits for meat production.

The set up is rather simple that I'm getting ready to build.

Basically using 2x4's as the stilts, metal roof, metal waste sliders on the bottom of each row. I bought 36x30 cages from rural king and would basically be intigratling them with this frame as all one unit. I'm thinking the lower cages may be 2 to 3 feet off the ground.

Problem is, the hardware cloth that came with the cages for the sides and top is 1"x2". I'm thinking that's enough of an opening for a weasel to get in or a raccoon to get an arm in and do some damage.

Would a cloth electric chicken fence work for me?

Any ideas on how to further protect them?

It just bugs me to no end to buy completed cages and wrap additional hardware cloth over the existing sides and top.

Or maybe I'm just being to paranoid.

We have coons, possums, house cats and foxes in our area and our yard. I don't know about weasels.
 
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2" is big enough for a weasel and a racoon is smart enough to make use of that kind of gap too.

I've seen the aftermath of a weasel who chewed through chicken mesh to get to chickens...had to kill the weasel.

I believe an inch gap might be okay though we went with 1/4 " square mesh, the kind you use for sifting out rocks  -but not on the bottom as the rabbit manure can't fall through that small of a gap.
 
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I use one of these for chickens. Not 100% sure how effective it is because we have a very strong coop. Seems like it might help though. We have many nocturnal critters here but I rarely see any by the coop.

At a previous location with a weaker coop I used a live trap. Worked quite well.



 
pollinator
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Of course, this might not be possible.  But if it is, I would return those cages.  I'm a chicken owner, and virtually all the available coops at chain stores are pathetic.  They use unsafe gauge wire, thin wood that falls apart in the rain, claim to house 12 chickens when 4 would be crowded, and so forth.  If you have the least of carpentry skills, making cages will result in a far better product.

Chicken owners repeatedly advise that 1/2 inch is the biggest size hardware cloth that is safe, particularly from raccoons and weasels, as you note.  

I wish you luck!  Electric fencing would certainly be a big improvement.  But they shouldn't sell cages that are clearly not up to the task.  

After a bear attack on our coop, we strengthened all of the connections (bolts instead of screws) and put up motion/heat sensor alarms.
 
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My rabbit cages are 1x1/2" 14 ga. wire.  I like to use that on the bottom of my quail pens/tractors too.  The 14 ga. is easy on the feet and strong and I wouldn't go with a bigger opening.  Most of the hardware cloth I've bought has been 18 or 19 ga. but now several places are selling 27 ga. instead and that's little better than chicken wire.

Return the cages if you can or add hardware cloth.  
 
Benjamin Drew
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I just went behind the house and I have available to me a whole lot of lightly corrugated galvanized metal. Looks to be 2 1/2 by 8 feet. I think I can use that in the structure.

I can take the 19 guage 1/2 inch and use for the front of the cages. I'm stuck with the cages because some of that hardware cloth is getting very difficult to find.
 
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Good for you to think about predator protection BEFORE predation!  Even rats will eat rabbits through that wire.  Sounds like you have some old metal roofing, perfect!  Build a fence AROUND the rabbit hutches, at least two sheets high, posts on the inside, and if possible, trench them down a foot or so.  If you don't have enough, keep your eyes on the local free site, contact local roofers, put the word out to anyone taking down a metal barn or roof...  5-6 feet of height will deter almost all terrestrial predators.  

The electric chicken mesh will also work - and may also be used in conjunction with the metal roofing, but, the key here is making sure there is no way over, under, or around whatever your defenses are.
 
Benjamin Drew
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Good for you to think about predator protection BEFORE predation!  Even rats will eat rabbits through that wire.  Sounds like you have some old metal roofing, perfect!  Build a fence AROUND the rabbit hutches, at least two sheets high, posts on the inside, and if possible, trench them down a foot or so.  If you don't have enough, keep your eyes on the local free site, contact local roofers, put the word out to anyone taking down a metal barn or roof...  5-6 feet of height will deter almost all terrestrial predators.  

The electric chicken mesh will also work - and may also be used in conjunction with the metal roofing, but, the key here is making sure there is no way over, under, or around whatever your defenses are.



Actually, the setup is will more than likely be the cages snug fit into the little structure I'm building. The structure will be on concrete under my vehicle awning right against the house. All sides will be protected with that sheet metal and the front will have the 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch mesh. The cages were only 16 inches high. I might extend that a bit further upward but I'm not sure yet. I'll upload a photo when it's done. :)
 
Benjamin Drew
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I just made this from imagination. What came about unexpectedly as an idea was to leave the metal sides removable for better ventilation during the day when it's hot. The I initial plan was just to fasten them in.



 
Benjamin Drew
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The one above is for the 36" wide cages.

I starting another clone copy for one with 30"x30" cages. The smaller cages are for the bucks. The larger is for the doe's.

Being that I'm raising them for meat, instead of buying more cages I opted to try a rabbit tractor I saw on YouTube.  It's I still have a little work to do on it. It's mainly for the grow out bunnies.



It will be quite some time before I'm able to breed them, so I may buy some more just to see how they fare in the grow out tractor.

My initial ones I want caged for further protection.
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