Keeping rabbits and chickens together!?!


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 3, 2008
Satellite Beach, Florida
Not real sure where this post should go so feel free to move it! I have heard of people keeping chickens and rabbits together in the same house, I was wondering if they mean the rabbits are caged or running around with the chickens? I am looking into getting some rabbits in the future and I would like to have cage free rabbits if at all possible. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
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I have both but keep them separate. I must say my rabbits are a lot harder to catch. Maybe someone you have me curious. I have never heard of that.
We tried it and the birds almost killed the rabbit. Now she is in her own section of the hen house and happier than a pig in poo. The first few days they were together the roo kept trying to get the rabbitt in the hen house at night and she wouldn't cooperate. After a few days, I guess he had enough of his wayward partner and let her know it. Not good.
Friends of mine have free range rabbits. They just let them run around the farm. Sometimes they go in with the chickens sometimes they go in with the horses. They can catch a few of them but they really just run around everywhere.
I think this is usually referring to keeping rabbits in cages suspended above the coop floor. I did this and used the DLM and it was great. The chickens kept the litter turned, picked up any dropped rabbit pellets and the urine smell generated by the rabbits was eliminated by the constant turning of the litter.

Since chicken manure is a "hot" manure and rabbit droppings are a "cold" manure, this made for a great combination and enables one to utilize this litter on the garden more quickly than normal.
I have my grower rabbits in with the Ameraucana banties. They do just fine together. The rabbits are not caged, they have free run of the pen, just like the chickens. I used to have all my rabbits in the pen, but moved my breeders to cages a couple of months ago because the pen was getting too crowded, lol.
If you want to safely keep cage free rabbits build a rabbit house or extension to go with your chicken coop. There are many issues with keeping rabbits and chickens loose together and odds are it won't work out. Even if they somehow get along there are health issues such as rabbits being more susceptible to cocci and the chicken feed being unhealthy for them. Many would also question the practice of leaving them loose in your yard. It's not good for the rabbits and there's no point. They aren't laying you eggs or anything like free range chickens and you can't handle them so you might as well watch wild rabbits run around your yard. Your also leaving them open to predators and untimely deaths like keeping chickens without a coop or run. Most on here would protest leaving chickens to their fate in your yard with no care. Like every other animal you keep rabbits really should have their own safe shelter and if necessary pen.
I don't think a rabbit should be allowed to run loose in the yard with no fence to keep it home, but I don't think the OP was talking about just turning the rabbits loose. Rabbits won't come home to roost at night like chickens. Not having a fence, even just during the day, is just not an option if you want to keep them around. As with chickens, cage free does not mean they are just left to fend for themselves or just turned loose with absolutely no confinement. I know many people who keep rabbits with chickens, and it works great for them and for me. That's not saying it will work for everyone, and their are things to consider like parasite control and predator protection. With proper sanitation and treatment for cocci if needed, there is usually not a problem. I have never had a problem with cocci, I watch carefully for signs as keeping rabbits on the ground, with chickens or not, increases the chances of infection. Another thing to consider is safety of the kits if you are breeding. If your chickens have access to the rabbit nest boxes, they will likely eat the little ones. You also have to make sure that your rabbits can't dig out. A lot of colony rabbit people bury their fence a few feet in the ground and allow the rabbits to dig burrows (which protects the kits from the chickens). I can't allow them to dig, so the bottom of my pen is lined with chicken wire. Since I removed my does (who do most of the digging) I am thinking about taking up the chicken wire to see how it goes.

I also make sure both the chickens and the rabbits have their own places to go where they can get away from each other. Mine are in with our bantams so I use chick feeders, which the rabbits can't get their noses far enough into to get much chicken feed. My chickens mostly leave the rabbit feed alone (which is kept in a 1 lb chicken feeder), they don't seem to like it. Chicken feed IS unhealthy for rabbits. Rabbits have a very difficult time processing corn and it can lead to digestive problems. The extra calcium shouldn't be a problem, they will excrete what their body doesn't use, but they really shouldn't eat much chicken feed. Small amounts won't hurt them though.

Just because a rabbit is in a pen and not a small cage does not mean you can't handle them. My rabbits have the run of the 12 x 32 pen with the bantams and are very sweet and easy to handle. They come up to me in groups and stand up on my legs begging to be picked up and held. If you socialize them when they are young, you will be fine. Depending on your purpose for the rabbits (i.e. if you raise them for meat and not just pets), you may not care if you can handle them easily.

Having rabbits in a more natural setting, rather than a cage, is VERY good for the rabbits, just as it is for the chickens. Being able to graze on natural foods and be able to move and stretch and play is also very good for them, just like chickens. Of course, they need protection from the predators, just like the chickens. It gives them something to do, they are MUCH happier. I believe they are much healthier as well, as they get plenty of exercise. They muscle out better and are grow better. Just because they don't lay eggs doesn't mean you don't need to consider what is truly best (and most natural, which IMO is best) for the rabbit, especially if they are meat rabbits and what goes into them eventually goes into you. They don't have to lay eggs to deserve the best care.

ETA: I have read this several times, and no matter how it word it I think it comes across a bit argumentative, this is not my intention and I hope I don't sound like I am trying to cause a problem. I am just trying to say that it works for me and several others I know of. There are challenges, but they can be overcome. I agree completely that rabbits should not just be allowed to run loose in the yard, but I don't think that's what the OP had in mind.
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My post was aimed more at the person who has friends that "free range" their rabbits. I know the OP is more interested in a pen with tame rabbits and yes rabbits should have plenty of space even if they aren't producing anything for you. I just see no point turning them loose in a yard like that when they are giving you nothing, you can't handle them, and they are put at risk. You can watch wild rabbits for that without harming domestic rabbits that are both not native and not bred to run loose on our land. Personally I wouldn't have a rabbit in any of those rabbit hutches. My 3'x6' guinea pig cage with frequent access to run loose in the room is the smallest I would go for 2 rabbits. I say 2 because rabbits are social and should not be kept alone.

Are the risks of putting rabbits with chickens really worth it? They could get pecked, injured, stressed out, eat bad feed, pick up cocci, etc... Even if you do try to minimize those risks I still think it's much more responsible to build your rabbits their own enclosure where they can have the space they need, exhibit normal behaviors, and not have an increased risk to their health. Chickens and rabbits are quite different and not really compatible even if you can manage to get them to ignore each other. Just because you can mix 2 animals doesn't always mean you should. It's not in the rabbit's best interest to be with chickens compared to their own "coop" setup. It's only in your interest to not have to put in the effort to build and clean another pen.

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