Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DIY Rabbit cage poop boards

Back when I only had a few rabbits in cages on the fence, I had some 55 gallon drums cut in half and set underneath to catch the poo and pee. Let me tell you now, you don't want to go that route. It seems like a great idea until you have to carry a half barrel full of sloshing, urine fermenting poop across the yard to dump in the garden, tripping over every root and twig and stone that has magically appeared in your path along the way.

I only had to do that about nineteen times before I decided to come up with a better idea. 

Now that I have a lot more rabbits and am in the process of relocating them to a rabbit house, I needed to come up with a better way to deal with the waste. Since the room will be completely enclosed during the extremes of summer and fall, it needed to allow for easy, and daily, waste removal to avoid the room smelling like a bunny toilet. 

To build the dropping boards, I used scavenged materials we had around the garage and back yard. One sheet of 12 ft poly roofing that was left over from the wind storm that tore the entire chicken house roof off was cut into 5, 28" lengths. An unused 2"x2"x8" that had been intended for a chicken roost but never used was finally going to be put to use. To form the L shaped piece that would hang the entire thing from the back side of the cages as well as serve for a urine guard for my more spray obsessive ladies, I raided my license plate collection. I get the plates free from the tax office; they have no use for the ones people turn in so their annoyance is my gain. I also picked up a gutter from Home Depot, which isn't in the pics because it's out by the aquaponics setup serving as a temporary runway for the sump in case I need to drain it off again.

To attach it all together I needed these sheet metal screws, which require a special bit to screw them in, but not the one I have here because it's too friggin big. Naturally I have every size available except the one that fits these screws. I knew something would hold up this project.

Two hours and much cursing later, I finally found the correct bit sitting on top of the microwave. No doubt I had a reason for putting it there yesterday, but it escapes me now.

The first thing to do was bend the license plates. I considered just putting it all together and then bending them all at once, but in a rare fit of thinking ahead I decided to do them individually, just in case the stress of bending them cracked my already questionable 2x2.

I placed a 1" board behind the plate, and a 2x4 on top, then pressed down on the 2x4 while pulling the top edge up to form an L shape. The reason for that board behind it was so I wasn't scrabbling to pry the edge off of the concrete. This seemed to work perfectly until it came to my notice that I had two different kinds of license plates, and they weren't bending the same.

The plates with the raised letters was bending perfectly straight along the bottom edge of the letters, which was an inch lower than I needed it to bend. Meanwhile the plates that were completely flat were bending where I wanted, but not in a sharp line. Since I needed a sharp line, I tossed all the flat plates back into the bin.

Once all the plates were bent, I laid the clear siding along the 2x2, then set the plates on top and screwed it all together. Of course, rippled sheets don't want to screw flat so I have a lot of shifting going on that I'll have to deal with once the thing is in place and I can see just how off the bottom edge is, as well as deal with the edges of the individual panels where they've lifted.

I'm a little uneasy about the way this thing is weighted. The idea is to hook the upper edge of the license plates to the back side of the rabbit cages, then rest the front edge of the clear poly sheet on the gutter that it will drain in. The way it's balanced, the plates should naturally tip away from the cage at a slight angle, allowing for the dropping board to tilt down... provided the weight doesn't bend the plates straight again.

 Before the gutter drain can be mounted, however, the Mr. needs to frame in the door on the front wall of the rabbit room and then I have to finish the inside wall. That probably won't happen until this weekend so you'll have to wait to see the finished project then.

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