Double Evaluation Cage
I built a bunch of Bottomless Fold-Flat Evaluation Cages to help with making breeding choices. There is a lot of info online about building chicken coops, but not a lot about building chicken cages. I found some really great bunny cage tutorials, but nothing with a Pop-Up design, so that's the part I had to figure out.
14 gauge Cage Wire
16 gauge Spool Wire
Needle Nose Pliers
Zip-ties for when in use
Folded Flat for easy storage
Cage at about half-mast
Cage fully upright
Detail of the cage latch, made from 16 gauge wire
Left door open
Inside Left compartment
The cage shown above measures 4' x 2' x 2' when fully upright. It has two 2' compartments. It is bottomless. You don't need a lot of J-Clips everywhere if you're just using the cage as a temporary evaluation cage, but you do if you intend to keep birds in them.
The trick to making the cage fold flat as shown in the first photo is to only attach the front (door) panel across the top edge of the cage, to only attach the side pieces to the back of the cage, and to only attach the divider to the top of the cage. When the cage is upright, use zip-ties to attach the side panels to the front panel, and to secure the divider to both the front and the back.
1) Paint the cage matt black for less visual clutter -- this will help you see your birds instead of the cage
2) Use a Dremel tool to cut the wire
3) If you want to add a bottom, use plastic coated wire in a smaller mesh size to be kinder to the birds' feet
4) If you're using the cage to train show birds, cover the inside of the wire with something like plastic or plexiglass to protect the tail feathers and combs.
5) Before assembly, stack the cut pieces under weighted plywood to help straighten them ... the straighter they are, the easier they are to assemble. I walk on them to straighten them, but even so the press makes them straighter.
6) If you intend to use the cage overnight, be sure it is in a predator-proof area, or wrap the cage in 1/2" hardware cloth.
7) The cages are pretty light, so if your birds are strong and flighty, put a weight on the top. You could also attach them to a table, shelf, etc.
8) Use good tools. I've read reports of the cheaper J-Clip Pliers bending out of shape after a couple squeezes. Also, not all "wire cutters" will handle the 14 gauge wire.
9) The cage wire comes in different heights, lengths, mesh sizes and gauges. Think about the size of your birds when choosing your wire and your dimensions.
10) 14 gauge wire seems sturdy enough to stand up on its own.