Once you have determined you want a wire cage instead of a wood/wire cage, you need to determine the following:
1. How are you are going to support it?
2. How are you going to clean it?
3. Will you need to move it to clean it?
4. Will you be supporting one level or more?
5. Will you be attaching an automatic watering system?
6. How high do you want the cage so you can reach the rabbits in the cage?
7. Will you have enough room to clean manure under the cage?
8. Do you have enough clearance for the cage doors to open?
9. Do you have enough clearance to move a wheel barrow around your cages to remove manure?
10. Have you determined which cages are for breeder does, buck or kits?
Did I spark an idea for you? I hope so, because what will work for me may or may not work for you. So, we will try to consider alternatives which may work for you. I always share an idea with my wife and son and see what we can come up with. As my father-in-law always used to say, Three heads are better than one, even if one is a "Cabbage-Head!"
Depending if your cages will be outside or inside, your choices how to hang a cage may vary. If the rafters of your barn are 2x6's or 2x8's you can probably hang your cages from the rafters. You will need to know if your rafters are adequately built to support your cages. I've hung two cages and found that I should have added more hanging wires, say every 3 ft so the cage doesn't disfigure over time with the weight of the rabbits, nesting boxes, feeders and water bowls. I think hanging the cages is a good idea when these considerations have been taken. I purchased a roll of Stainless Steel wire at Lowe's which was about 1/8" thick and it did a good job to support my cages. You should have already determined how high to have the bottom of your cage to make it comfortable to reach into the back of the cages and if it's high enough for you to shovel under. My height is about 38 inches. Just high enough for my wife and I to reach the back of the cages. There is a "TON" of information regarding what size to make your cages for your rabbits. I think part of the answer is the size of the rabbit determines the basic cage size and then the size of the rabbitry barn or area is next. Since I raise New Zealand Rabbits which are considered a large rabbit (10-12 lbs.) I have built 30"Wx30L"x18"H with 4 holes in a row. This makes a 10 foot cage which is as big as I can move. My cage doors are 15+ inches so I can easily move the nest box in and out and with it in the doe has enough room to lay down next to the nesting box. I think 30"Wx36"Lx18" is probably the Cadillac style and will provide more room for the doe and kits, but as I said, my rabbitry barn size was the limiting factor. If you want to raise Rex Rabbits, or the smaller breed of rabbits, consider building a 24"Wx30"Lx16"H. This will provide enough room for the nesting box and some romping room. I know a 24"x24"x16" will work for a smaller rabbit but it will be a little tight with the nesting box and litter.
If you hang your cages, how are you going to clean out the cages? I have removed my rabbits to a spare cage and then used a burner to burn off the loose hair which accumulates . Large rabbitries have a cement floor with a proper drain so they can move the rabbits and them high-pressure the cages down. I don't have that luxury. If you don't consider having an extra cage with enough holes to be able to move your rabbit into, unwire your cage and then move it to a good location to wash and maybe even burn off the hair with your weed burner too. I have scrapers, BBQ brush (no longer used on the BBQ) and a weed burner. I will be buying a hi-pressure sprayer because I can't continue to borrow one from my friend forever. You will need a disinfectant also so you can finish with a good rinse before you rehang it. How often you say? You need to scrape hanging manure in your cage continuously and if you see a light colored manure in the back of the cage, you need to treat your rabbit quickly because it has a digestive problem. A healthy rabbit will keep a clean cage, usually.
If you have more than one level of cages, that creates more work to maintain. I've had a three level and I could not wait a week to clean because the manure builds up quickly. I had 4 cages to a row times three levels. I now have one level and let the manure fall to the ground to shovel. I can wait about a week but by 2 weeks it's getting too messy. It's best to keep it clean because insects and bacteria will cause health conditions. Design your multi level so you can scrape and clean into the pans below so you can carefully remove the pans every 3-4 days. Pans need to be washed and sanitized too. Oh, don't forget to clean your feeders too! Fines will build up and plug up the feeder. This is not only non productive but it is unhealthy too. If you get a lot of fines in your pellets you might consider another feed company. It is not normal to get a lot of fines so don't let the feed store try to tell you it's normal! A good press machine is capable of making good pellets and sifting out the fines. If they sell you the fines too, you don't really know what they are feeding your rabbits!
I've always dreamed of a "A-FRAME" design to hang my cages on which has big wheels so I can pull the cages out of the barn with a 4 wheeler and into the yard to wash down. Rabbit Equipment companies sell cages on wheels already to assemble but I've opted to build my own to save money. It's your choice. It's either more money and some time or some money and more time.
So, if you are not going to hang your wire cages you need to have a plan of action to build a frame. My first was made of wood and it was fast and cheap but not good. The flat surfaces build up with manure and cause health problems quickly because I set the cages on the frame. If you build a wood frame that is similar to an "A-FRAME" you can probably hang your cages or support it from a cross piece to the top of the cage, basically hanging it. I really like letting the manure fall to the ground. If you have pans to catch the manure you will need a sturdy support structure to hold the pans in place. You can build a simple square frame from 1.5" PVC pipe using either 90 degree tee's, 45 degree or straight couplings. Again, consider whatever design you build, are you going to move it or not? It could be an important factor. I chose to buy simple electrical conduit at a low price at Lowe's. I had a wire-feed welder so I just welded the pipe into a simple table frame with cross braces and it has worked out fine. It cost some time, but it was very inexpensive. I made it so I can pull the cage off easily and move it to the yard. The manure does not build up on the framework and it should last longer then I. Remember my design is a single level. I did use the same pipe to build the frame for the 3 level, but when I chose to change to a single level I just cut the frame into 3 single level frames.
So what if you have a frame that you can hang your cage on and have supports for a catch pan under the cage too. Note that large wheels could be attached so the entire cage can be rolled out and then cleaned with the rabbits temporarily in another cage. Well, this is just an idea I've had and I've not tried it yet so let me know if you find this idea interesting.
If its a moveable cage system, an automatic watering system will need to be built with removable valves. One thing leads to another doesn't it! If you use water bottles or crocks, then no problem.
Shoveling rabbit manure is good exercise. I keep telling myself that! I use a garden rake and a coal shovel to load my wheel barrow. You can sprinkle lime over the area when you have cleaned the ground and it will cut the smell some. I have pine chips in my walk ways and often just rake some pine chips into the wetter areas to soak a little. I also have set fans up to blow on the wet areas too so I can keep it dry and healthy. In the summer months I set up containers with fly poison to kill the fly's. They can be set up outside of your barn. Some folks have a battery operated insect spray which has a timed release and will help keep the fly's from hanging around. Having enough room under the cages to shovel is important to having a clean rabbitry. Make sure you have adequate room in your rabbitry design to move a wheel barrow in and out of your cage area unless you have a pan to drain wash down system.
How you support your rabbit cage is determined on what material the cage is made of. If you built a wood/wire cage, then the wood legs will support it. If it's all wire, preferably a metal frame is needed or just hang it up either with an "A-Frame" design or from the rafters.
Well, we've touched on some important factors which can help you think and design your cages or even buy your cages. A good heavy gauge double dipped galvanized wire is preferred and will last a long time. Check out our Rabbit Feed & Supply Stores listed on this website.
I hope this has provided you with some idea's you can use. I'm thinking about an article about wire cage design because I've had so many people who want to know how to build them and we all have seen many styles and shapes. If you have a picture of a design you'd like to share, send it to use through our "Contact Us" page and we'll put it into the article.