Tell me about chickens in the rabbitry. Pros? Cons?

Rabbit Talk  Forum

Help Support Rabbit Talk Forum:

KelleyBee

Well-known member
Rabbit Talk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
446
Reaction score
427
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
If you've ever house chickens with rabbits, tell me the pros and cons. In trying to decide if I should or should not. BTW, my rabbits are all in suspended cages, one tier, all now under one roof in what I call the rabbit barn. I am considering getting only 2 or 3 chickens (hens) at most. The rabbitry is 12 x 24 feet.
 
Last edited:

ladysown

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 26, 2009
Messages
8,635
Reaction score
1,093
Location
near London, Ontario
I've never raised them together but this is the information I have gleaned over the years of reading questions about this very same topic.

1. chickens do an excellent job of cleaning up rabbit waste and in controlling the fly population.
2. you MUST have baby saver wire because any kits that get out will become chicken food. (which also makes the clean up of dead kits really easy).
3. DO NOT allow chickens to get on top of the rabbit cages. Poop and health concerns being the big issues.
4. sometimes chickens make it more dusty and some rabbits do not cope well with dust.
 

KelleyBee

Well-known member
Rabbit Talk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
446
Reaction score
427
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I've never raised them together but this is the information I have gleaned over the years of reading questions about this very same topic.

1. chickens do an excellent job of cleaning up rabbit waste and in controlling the fly population.
2. you MUST have baby saver wire because any kits that get out will become chicken food. (which also makes the clean up of dead kits really easy).
3. DO NOT allow chickens to get on top of the rabbit cages. Poop and health concerns being the big issues.
4. sometimes chickens make it more dusty and some rabbits do not cope well with dust.
Thank you. I am considering getting only 2 or 3 chickens (hens) at most. The rabbitry is 24x12.
 

Spitzfire

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
24
Reaction score
13
If you've ever house chickens with rabbits, tell me the pros and cons. In trying to decide if I should or should not. BTW, my rabbits are all in suspended cages, one tier, all now under one roof in what I call the rabbit barn. I am considering getting only 2 or 3 chickens (hens) at most. The rabbitry is 12 x 24 feet.
Hi there. I also have a bunny barn with suspended cages. We have a few laying hens and they are in and out of our bunny barn all day. The have a summer hen house that they live in during the warmer months but free range their yard and they have full access to the bunny barn.

In the winter we have been moving them into a hen hut in the bunny barn just for ease for us. Lol. Plus it keeps them warmer.

We have had no issues at all. As long as they are in direct contact with each other and their feces you should be good.
 

Mini Lop Mama

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2022
Messages
230
Reaction score
141
I have thought of this before! I would love to do it! Rabbits and chickens can pass different diseases onto each other. You must consider this. You would need to pair them with each other when they are younger, they WILL fight if there is a problem. Especially bucks. Does get territorial. Would they be in the same cage or just in your rabbitry?
 

BuffBrahmaBantam

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2022
Messages
120
Reaction score
90
Location
Naches, WA
Are there really diseases that can infect both species? I’m asking because before getting our rabbits (we’ve had chickens for a long time) I tried researching this topic and read on a quick google search that coccidiosis can pass between the two species. But when I researched this further and looked this up in the peer reviewed literature, the papers I read indicated that the species of parasite that cause coccidiosis are very host specific and cannot cross hosts. For example, in research papers, rats injected with rabbit specific Eimeria species do not develop infections, and vise versa. Chickens and rabbits have different diets, metabolisms, and biology and it makes it hard for pathogens to infect both.

Joel Salatin and his son Daniel are famous for keeping livestock species together in synergistic and mutually beneficial ways, including rabbits and chickens which they feel complement each other. They describe using chickens to clean the bedding underneath rabbit cages in their ‘raken’ house. There are videos online of their type setup.
 

Attachments

  • 269-467-1-SM.pdf
    560.7 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:

MargieLu1982

Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2022
Messages
8
Reaction score
4
Location
Florida, Escambia County
I would be concerned about the likelihood of any chicken feces on top of the rabbit cages. Chickens roost at the highest point they can reach at sunset and do poop quite a bit as they roost and could pose an issue. Also, the poultry dust created by even a few chickens could lend to respiratory issues if the ventilation sweeps through from the chicken coop area to the rabbitry area.

Housing chickens near other animals would necessarily ramp up your barn chores to keep feather dust and feces at a minimum. A good roost in the coop area and some method of keeping the chickens off any open cages (cages without a solid roof panel) would be a good plan. It must be a sloped roof because chickens will poop on every flat surface you have - feed bin lids, shelves, cages, stored supplies, farm equipment etc. -- unless you can create a way to keep them seperate from those things.

We are also planning to add our rabbits to our barn where we have an indoor coop with 12 hens on one end of the barn in a comverted horse stall. The rabbits will be two stalls away from the chickens on the opposite end of the barn in an addition, like a lean-to with three sides offering wind and rain protection but plenty of ventilation and shade in the summer.

We have a geriatric shetland pony in the stall across the alley from the chickens and must constantly keep cleaning the chicken 'coop/stall' to keep down the feather dust to avoid our elderly pony breathing it (which prompts respiratory distress from the dust and can lead to congestion, colds and then pneumonia if not kept very clean).

Having a box fan to exhaust the poultry dust away from other animals stall is a must unless your barn is very large (we only have four atalls at the moment). Maybe have a fan to provide ventilation to the rabbits first and keep the chickens on the other side of a dividing wall? Also consider your prevailing breeze when housing anything together with chickens. I confess I don't remember the specifics of rabbit husbandry from when there were pet rabbits on our farm some time back, but I am certain the poultry dust can become the source of many co-housed animals' respiratory issues going forward. If we human caretakers need to mask up to clean up chicken poop from their mest boxes and coop/roost areas, then our other animals could be at similar risk from constant exposure to the same.
 

Burelka

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2022
Messages
52
Reaction score
38
Location
Canada
If you've ever house chickens with rabbits, tell me the pros and cons. In trying to decide if I should or should not. BTW, my rabbits are all in suspended cages, one tier, all now under one roof in what I call the rabbit barn. I am considering getting only 2 or 3 chickens (hens) at most. The rabbitry is 12 x 24 feet.
I have chickens in my rabbity! I have one building divided into two "rooms" My cages are also suspended but double tier. The pros: All your chores are in one place. Cons: the chickens break into the rabbit area and they poop everywhere. I have empty feed bags on top of the cages to protect the rabbits and keep them clean. Currently designing a beter system to keep the chickens out of the rabbit area. Another con: if your rabbit cages empty out onto the floor the hens might nest in dirty disguarded hay, or could get dirty hanging out under the open bottom rabbit cages.
Your proposed area sounds like a great size, could you rearange the rabbits so they are 2 tier and create a barrier on one end for the chickens?
Chickens are exceptionally dirty animals, they are constantly pooing and generate alot of dust. Having them seperate would be ideal, but dont get me wtong i have met many ppl who raise their rabits on the ground along side chickens and other birds without any issues.
 

KelleyBee

Well-known member
Rabbit Talk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
446
Reaction score
427
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I have chickens in my rabbity! I have one building divided into two "rooms" My cages are also suspended but double tier. The pros: All your chores are in one place. Cons: the chickens break into the rabbit area and they poop everywhere. I have empty feed bags on top of the cages to protect the rabbits and keep them clean. Currently designing a beter system to keep the chickens out of the rabbit area. Another con: if your rabbit cages empty out onto the floor the hens might nest in dirty disguarded hay, or could get dirty hanging out under the open bottom rabbit cages.
Your proposed area sounds like a great size, could you rearange the rabbits so they are 2 tier and create a barrier on one end for the chickens?
Chickens are exceptionally dirty animals, they are constantly pooing and generate alot of dust. Having them seperate would be ideal, but dont get me wtong i have met many ppl who raise their rabits on the ground along side chickens and other birds without any issues.
Thank you for the hands on information. I have no interest in creating more work for myself and definitely do not want to have birds pooing all over my buns. No interest in double tiering the cages. I just built this new enclosure to get away from such a setup. Single tier puts all the rabbits in my sweet spot where I can get in and out of their cages daily without needing a step up of any kind, so less chance for me to trip and fall and much easier for me to work with my herd.
 

KelleyBee

Well-known member
Rabbit Talk Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
446
Reaction score
427
Location
Southwestern Pennsylvania
Are there really diseases that can infect both species? I’m asking because before getting our rabbits (we’ve had chickens for a long time) I tried researching this topic and read on a quick google search that coccidiosis can pass between the two species. But when I researched this further and looked this up in the peer reviewed literature, the papers I read indicated that the species of parasite that cause coccidiosis are very host specific and cannot cross hosts. For example, in research papers, rats injected with rabbit specific Eimeria species do not develop infections, and vise versa. Chickens and rabbits have different diets, metabolisms, and biology and it makes it hard for pathogens to infect both.

Joel Salatin and his son Daniel are famous for keeping livestock species together in synergistic and mutually beneficial ways, including rabbits and chickens which they feel complement each other. They describe using chickens to clean the bedding underneath rabbit cages in their ‘raken’ house. There are videos online of their type setup.
What is this attachment?
 

MsTemeraire

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
139
Reaction score
138
Are there really diseases that can infect both species? I’m asking because before getting our rabbits (we’ve had chickens for a long time) I tried researching this topic and read on a quick google search that coccidiosis can pass between the two species. But when I researched this further and looked this up in the peer reviewed literature, the papers I read indicated that the species of parasite that cause coccidiosis are very host specific and cannot cross hosts. For example, in research papers, rats injected with rabbit specific Eimeria species do not develop infections, and vise versa. Chickens and rabbits have different diets, metabolisms, and biology and it makes it hard for pathogens to infect both.
It's always been said that the various Eimeria species are not cross-contaminating but a poultry farmer near me kept free range rabbits on his property on the same land as his poultry, and lost a lot of the rabbits. Cause was found to be coccidiosis.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2022
Messages
182
Reaction score
250
Location
Alaska
It's always been said that the various Eimeria species are not cross-contaminating but a poultry farmer near me kept free range rabbits on his property on the same land as his poultry, and lost a lot of the rabbits. Cause was found to be coccidiosis.
That may not necessarily be cross-contamination from the chickens per se. To be sure, it would be necessary to identify the type of coccidia, as there are many (and they do seem to be host-species-specific). Instead, it may have been simply a hygiene issue, as coccidiosis often is.
I usually pasture my meat rabbit growouts during the summer in a "rabbit tractor." (My rabbits and chickens are each in their own yards, n'er the twain to meet.) It is a fantastic approach until it starts raining incessantly in late summer/early fall, known not-so-affectionately here as monsoon season. What I found was that when it became difficult to find clean, dry areas to move the tractors, the rabbits would all come down with hepatic coccidiosis. Now I just pull the rabbits up off the ground when it starts to rain. I haven't had a problem with coccidiosis since.
 

MsTemeraire

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2022
Messages
139
Reaction score
138
That may not necessarily be cross-contamination from the chickens per se. To be sure, it would be necessary to identify the type of coccidia, as there are many (and they do seem to be host-species-specific). Instead, it may have been simply a hygiene issue, as coccidiosis often is.
I usually pasture my meat rabbit growouts during the summer in a "rabbit tractor." (My rabbits and chickens are each in their own yards, n'er the twain to meet.) It is a fantastic approach until it starts raining incessantly in late summer/early fall, known not-so-affectionately here as monsoon season. What I found was that when it became difficult to find clean, dry areas to move the tractors, the rabbits would all come down with hepatic coccidiosis. Now I just pull the rabbits up off the ground when it starts to rain. I haven't had a problem with coccidiosis since.
I should have added that the rabbits were also free range, so a hygiene issue was fairly unlikely.
 

judymac

Well-known member
Rabbit Talk Supporter
Joined
Jun 26, 2022
Messages
115
Reaction score
170
Location
Pennsylvania
We've had chickens free-ranging through the bunny barn for the last forty years. We use a deep litter system, easy since we feed hay to the rabbits every day. Fallen hay makes a wonderful deep litter. The chickens happily scratch through the litter to search for bugs or fallen grain. The simple solution to the coccidiosis issue is to put a covering over each of the rabbit cages. Could be a piece of thin plywood, or as simple as a flattened feedsack (or two). Some rabbits like to chew on the feedsacks, they get a piece of thin plywood as their roof, haven't had them chew that yet, as it stays above the wire (the feed sacks can droop down within reach). If you have trouble with the 'roof' sliding off, a simple bungee cord will hold it in place.

The chickens seem to prefer a real perch to the bunny cages as a perch, so providing a wooden board (2"x4" on edge, or an old broom handle, tree branch, whatever you have on hand that they can wrap their toes around a bit to perch), maybe about 4' high and away from the cages, far enough away from the wall so they have room to perch is a good deal. Put out some nestboxes for the chickens to use to lay their eggs, with a little hay/straw inside to make a nest to cushion the eggs. Ours prefer old rabbit nestboxes set out on top of one of the cages, easy to reach, and the roof keeps any debris away from the rabbits. They don't seem to urinate/defecate near the nestbox, so that hasn't been an issue.

No urine odors, fresh eggs, less flies. It works well when you have rabbits in suspended cages. I wouldn't recommend it for those with rabbit colonies with all the bunnies on the ground, as the coccidiosis issue could become a serious problem with the poultry fouling the water.
 

MnCanary

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2010
Messages
178
Reaction score
175
Location
central Kentucky USA
The Merck Veterinary Manual says that coccidiosis is species-specific. A chicken couldn't pass the parasite to a rabbit. Besides Merck, I've seen that written elsewhere--but I'm never quite sure about what I read on the internet. Does anyone have other information?
 

Latest posts

Top