How to Make a Hay Rack
Hay is one of the essentials in the diet of domestic rabbits, providing them with much needed fiber. For sedentary rabbits, grass hay is also a low-calorie snack food that lets them eat to their heart’s content without gaining weight. One of the problems with hay, though, is that it can take up valuable space inside of a rabbit’s cage. Then there’s tendency some rabbits have of sitting on loose hay, often soiling it.
One solution is to use a hay rack that attaches to the outside of your rabbit’s cage. The rabbit can pull the hay through the bars of the cage whenever he or she has the urge to nibble. This keeps the hay out of the rabbit’s way and helps keep the hay clean.
You can easily build your own hay rack with supplies from your local hardware store. Here’s what you need:
- large-mesh hardware cloth
- bailing wire
- wire cutters
First of all, let your rabbit out of the cage. Don’t let him or her back in until the hay rack is attached to your satisfaction. You’ll be working with some sharp metal edges, and you don’t want your curious bunny to get hurt while you’re attaching the hay rack. For that same reason, you might wish to put on a pair of work gloves.
Choose one side of the cage to attach the hay rack to. This side should not contain the door to the cage. It should also not be a side to which you’ve already attached a water bottle or a feeder. The reason for this is that the hay rack should take up most of the side of the cage–you want to have enough space in the rack to add a day or two worth of hay at a time.
With wire cutters, cut the hardware cloth into the shape you want the bin to have. Some people like to use triangular shape, but I prefer rectangles. Assuming you want a rectangular shape to the bin, cut a rectangle slightly smaller than the side of the cage you’re attaching the hay rack to. Leave a bit of wire exposed at the base and sides of the rectangle. You’re going to use this exposed wire to attach the base and sides to the cage, while leaving the top open so you can add hay to the rack later.
Hold the rectangle of hardware cloth against the side of the cage so that you create a pocket. (To do this, you’ll need to bring the sides of the hardware cloth together a bit–the rectangle shouldn’t lay flat against the side of the cage, but should gap a bit instead.) Make sure that you have enough space inside of the pocket to add plenty of hay at a later point.
Once you have the rectangle positioned to your satisfaction, push the exposed wire at the edges of the rectangle through the bars. Bend the wires around the cage bars with your fingers or the pliers. Make sure you bend all of the wire edges, or else your rabbit could get hurt.
Cut two pieces of bailing wire. These should be about one to two inches long each, depending on the thickness of the bars of the cage. Use the pliers to loop a piece of wire around the bars of the cage and through one of the base corners of your hay rack. Twist the wire together behind the rack. This will help hold the hay rack in place. If you feel that your hay rack needs to be more secure, cut additional pieces of bailing wire and attach them to places on the hay rack where you want reinforcement.
Look over the hay rack to make sure there are no sharp edges exposed. If you see any, bend them out of your bunny’s way.
Fill the rack with hay and then let your bunny back into the cage. Your rabbit should be able to pull hay through the bars of the cage without problem. If the cage is made of mesh rather than bars, you might need to cut a hole or two in the side of the cage so that he or she can pull the hay through more easily. If you do cut a hole, be sure to bend or file down any sharp points.
Voila! You’ve created a tidy, convenient hay rack and probably made your bunny happy.