The Cage Page
I decided on Japanese Bantams to raise for show, along with my large fowl Buckeyes. Japanese come with their own set of housing problems. Their short legs, long tails and wing dragging make conventional housing problematic. After consulting with Japanese breeders, I came up with a concept for my cages.
The cages should be solid except for the front to avoid tail feather damage. They should be tall enough for the tail. They should have a solid bottom to use litter for flooring. After researching I found a design for wire cages at poultryhelp.com for their bantam and gamebird breeder cages. But they were wire. However, I must admit the basic design idea came from them.
The basic concept was stacked cages 2 feet by 6 feet that could be divided down into 2 x 3 ft. cages. I decided on having the bottom of the lowest cage set at 16 inches. This put the bottom of the top cage at 40 inches. This part of the design can be changed simply by placement of the legs. Double doors allow access whether divided or used as a single cage. The neat thing, these can be used for broody cages, show cages, bantam breeder cages, brooders, infirmaries or isolation, and probably several things I haven't though of yet!
Materials required: 10-8ft 2x4s, 3 sheets of 1/4 plywood or OSB., 4-storage cube panels, 12ft of 2ft 1x2 welded wire. Nails or screws.
Next step...get busy!
I started with the frames for the "shelving" portion which would become the tops and bottoms of the cages. I built 3, 2ft by 6 ft frames made of 2x4s. It really doesn't matter which side is cut full length as long as the final measurement is correct. I tried it several ways and didn't have a preference. (*hint*)Working on a flat surface helps keep all the edges lined up nice and straight. (*next time*) I will try with 2x3 or 2x2 lumber to conserve on weight.)
I nailed the 2x6 plywood pieces to the frames using the plywood to square up the frames. Here I have 3 panels all squared up and ready to go. (*hint*) Line up and nail across one end. Then pull the frame into square and nail the other end. Then if your 2x4 have some bend in them, pull them into line at the edge of the plywood and nail.
Next I attached the panels to the 2 x 4 sheets of plywood at either end, adjusting the placement to allow for the width of the 2x4s.
If you weren't dead set on 24 inch tall cages, you could set the plywood even on top and bottom of the panels for a little "cleaner" look, but I wanted the full 24 inches.
Next came the legs. The length of the leg is determined by the height of the two cages and the distance above the floor for the bottom of the first cage. For me that was 48 + 16 = 64.
Then I marked the 16 inch mark on both sides of the leg, so I didn't have to worry later which leg I grabbed where. This mark would then line up with the floor of the bottom panel when putting on the legs.
?I tried putting the legs on in a couple of different positions, I finally decided it was easiest if I stood the cage on its top and nailed the legs on.
?For the back panel, I cut another sheet of plywood at 6ft 3in to cover the back and extend across the legs, and nailed in place.
Next I put 1x2 welded wire on the front and cut out the doors. I lined the opening with edge liner. For the door I used a piece of storage block. It is more rigid and makes a better door than a piece of wire. I connected it with j-clips that are used for cage building. (*next time*)I will make sure the vertical wires are on the outside of the cage and the inside of the door to avoid binding when closing.
1x2 strips were nailed over the wire edges to "dress" the cage,
and here is the finished product.
(*next time*) I will make the front of the cage as four individual wood-framed wire doors opening outward, hinged on the sides, with the wire doors maintained as they are. This will give me the wire doors for feeding etc without escaping birds, but will allow me full access to each section individually for cleaning. It will also allow the removable dividers to be installed with ease. I will probably put linoleum on the shelves before putting the unit together.