DIY Tarp Cover for Dogs and Other Animals

 

DIY Conduit Tarp Cover for Animal Cages

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This video is about my DIY conduit tarp cover for animal cages.  I used EMT conduit to make a frame that I covered in billboard tarp.

My long suffering wife informed me that the rabbits HAD to be moved from the carport. It seems like the side of the carport she picked to park her car was next to the rabbit hutches.  The rabbits took a dislike to the car.

Apparently rabbits show their displeasure by urinating on things they don’t like. I also learned rabbits have very large and powerful bladders for their small size.

Luckily I had planned on moving the rabbits outside.  So I built our fence in such a way I could use the wooden posts to hold support boards. My only problem was that I needed a covering to protect the rabbits from the weather. I did not think my posts would support the load of a normal shingled roof covering, and even if they would have, my budget would not support building a normal shed. Let’s just call this project an unfunded mandate with strict penalties for noncompliance.

Using a Hoop Frame Was Easiest

After doing some research I decided on a Quonset hut design. This is a prefabricated structure with a semicircular cross section. Generally when we talk about Quonset huts people think of galvanized steel structures the US military favors. The idea is also how greenhouses are made. I made a trip to the hardware store with a budget (small) and a plan (smaller) to see what I could make work. The frame was made using ¾ grey plastic conduit pipe as my framework. I also bought some 2×4 boards to act as a ridgepole, some stringers to connect the boards to my posts, and some strap hangers to connect the pipe to the board. Lastly, I also bought some T-posts to anchor the conduit pipe to the ground.

Its Based on Billboard Tarps

I had found a site online selling salvaged billboard tarps  for reasonable prices. These are 10-17mil 3 ply tarps with a mesh inner layer. They last for years.  Additionally, since they are salvaged from Bill boards they cost very little. Shipping is on the high side since they weigh a lot.  I have been eyeing these for a while as I want to use them to build a fish pond. Now that the wife just wants the rabbits moved, I ordered both the tarp for the roof of my new rabbit pen and the tarp for the pond liner.  When the crate came and the inevitable question was asked I could honestly say “Babe, that’s the stuff I need to move the rabbits….”

I attached the metal c-clamps to the ridgepole everywhere I planned on laying a conduit pipe.  Next I tightened it around the middle of each pipe. I then pounded in T-posts on both sides of the fence, and zip tied the conduit to the posts. This made the arched framework for my tarp. I then had to unroll the tarp over the frame.  We took care that the white side of the tarp was facing out (one side has advertising, and as a condition of buying the tarp you have to promise to keep that covered.).

Once I had the tarp situated how I wanted it, I ran more conduit through the seam on the side of the tarp and then pulled the sides tight and zip tied that to the framework.

This solved the rabbit problem, very nicely. They are protected from the elements, have good ventilation, and they aren’t able to pee on my wife’s new car.

I couldn’t Stop with the Tarp

But like all projects I tend not to stop at completion so I was only half done. When I build the fence, I attached a chicken hutch on the fence. This made an “L” shape, with the chicken hutch one leg of the L and the rabbit cages the longer leg. The way my framework was built allowed me to run one strand of woven wire fencing along the base of the framework with a roll of chicken wire above it and make a chicken run that was covered with the other half of the tarp. The fence running down the center of the tarp covering separates the chickens from the rabbits, but allows me to use the same piped watering system for both sets of animals.

By having all the animals near each other it really cuts down on the work of feeding and caring for the livestock. It is very easy to check on them, as the wire structure allows me to quickly see all the animals from my kitchen window. Since the backyard fence is one wall of the structure, the dog spends a lot of time near the chickens – which since he has been taught to protect them instead of eat them that helps keep away other predators.

My Dog Won’t Protect my Animals

Unfortunately, I am having a hard time teaching him to protect rabbits. I have been letting one rabbit at a time run around the backyard to teach them not to be scared if I pick them up, and to stay in the yard in the event the cage breaks or they get loose (actually I just like seeing them hop around), but I have to put Bear on a leash or he tries to catch and eat the rabbits.

I know this is not the best description of what we have built; luckily we videotaped it, and if you want a clearer picture, just view the video.

 

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