Rabbits and chickens have a lot in common. They both enjoy the outdoors, have similar diets, and are social animals.
So, can rabbits and chickens live together? The answer is yes, they can!
Even though they’re different species, keeping rabbits and chickens together can have perks. However, you’ll have to do some prep work before you introduce them to each other.
Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about integrating rabbits and chickens.
Rabbits and chickens can live together, but you should customize their housing to meet their needs.
To do this, you’ll have to look at their space and lighting requirements.
According to the House Rabbit Society, a pair of rabbits need at least 8 square feet of living space and 24 square feet of exercise space. Chickens, on the other hand, need 3 square feet of living space and 4 square feet of outdoor space per bird.
Aside from the floor area, consider the vertical height of the cage.
Rabbits only need a hutch that’s two-feet high, yet, you need to raise it by one more foot before you add chickens. It’s because chickens need to have perches.
Hiding places should be available for the rabbits, and nesting areas must be available for chickens to lay eggs. It’s best if these areas are separate from each other.
If you plan on raising chickens for eggs, they need 14 to 16 hours of sunlight daily. Compared to this, rabbits only need an hour.
Because of this, you’ll need to create additional shaded areas for the rabbits.
In terms of temperature, rabbits are more comfortable in cold weather than chickens. However, both animals can live comfortably in a 68°F enclosure.
Remember to build a cage with the right conditions for both species.
Rabbits are herbivores, while chickens are omnivores. If you integrate both animals, you should know which food they can share.
According to MSU, rabbit pellets need to have this composition.
- 47% carbohydrates
- 27% fiber
- 15% protein
- 6.5% minerals
- 3.5% fat
Chicken feed has the following components:
- 40.6% starch
- 14.8% protein
- 11.4% moisture
- 5.1% minerals
- 4.3% cellulose
- 3.9% fat
As you can see, the nutritional compositions of rabbit and chicken pellets are different.
Rabbit food consists of leafy greens and grain. Meanwhile, most chicken pellets contain grains, vegetables, meat, fish, and milk by-products.
Because of the composition, chickens can eat rabbit pellets, but rabbits can’t eat chicken feed.
That said, chicken nutritional requirements are still different. They might not get sick from eating rabbit pellets, but you still need to provide them with their feed!
Chickens and rabbits can safely share the following vegetables:
Make sure to separate these foods before you bring them into your rabbit-chicken house.
- Green beans: Green beans are okay for rabbits but toxic to chickens if they ingest them raw.
- Rhubarb: Rhubarb is poisonous to both rabbits and chickens.
- Potatoes: Potatoes are edible for chickens, but they’re too high-carb for rabbits.
- Chard and kale: Chickens and rabbits can eat these, but you have to limit your rabbit’s consumption.
- Oatmeal and bread: These aren’t good for rabbits, but they’re nutritious snacks for energetic chickens.
- Feeds with meat: Meat can give your rabbits an upset stomach, but it’s a necessary component of chicken feed.
Every time you bring two different animals together, you should be wary of diseases that can spread between them.
Yes, rabbits can get diseases from chickens and other birds.
A study in China found that rabbits kept with chickens contracted avian hepatitis E.
Another study in Switzerland found that rabbits can get infected by Salmonella. This is a harmful bacteria found in chickens.
Be aware that rabbits can ingest chicken feces if it’s on their hay. They’ll get sick if they do this.
Pasteurella multocida is a bacteria endemic to rabbits that causes sniffles. Chickens can get infected by it.
Once a chicken contracts this bacteria, it can turn into fowl cholera, which can cause lameness and even death.
Another issue to worry about is fleas. Stickfast fleas from rabbits can spread to chickens and even humans!
The best weapon you have against the spread of diseases between rabbits and chickens is cleanliness.
Make sure to change their bedding and remove feces daily. Never leave food out to rot either.
In addition to these steps, vaccinate your animals against the most common diseases as well.
Lastly, if you notice a sick animal, you should isolate it immediately!
Chickens eat insects and mice. Unfortunately, newborn rabbits look like mice, and the chickens may kill them.
You must separate rabbits that are about to give birth. You may keep them in the same hutch if you’ll provide them with a shelter the chickens can’t get to.
While chickens can’t kill adult rabbits, they can peck at them. Chickens are territorial when it comes to their eggs, and they won’t hesitate to attack a rabbit that gets too close.
Here are some tips you should follow if you mix rabbits with chickens.
You should create spaces in the enclosure that are private to each species.
Rabbits will need burrows to raise their young and get shade from the sun. Chickens should have perches and nesting areas far from the rabbit’s food source.
To avoid conflict, make sure that their living area is big enough.
Don’t throw two species of animals in a cage and call it a day! You have to slowly introduce them to each other, preferably while they’re young.
Help them get used to each other’s presence to prevent both from getting stressed.
Be aware of the signs that they’re not getting along and separate them if needed!
Male rabbits will hump anything, even chickens. It’s their way of showing dominance.
Rabbits can hurt chickens with their claws and teeth. Meanwhile, the chicken could lash out and peck at the rabbit.
To combat this, make sure that all your male rabbits get neutered!
Rabbits love to chew wood because it keeps their teeth from growing too long. That, or they’re just plain bored.
Some rabbits can get bored enough to gnaw through your cage’s chicken wire as well. It’s a habit that can be harmful to your bunnies!
First, it’s essential to use rabbit-proof materials on your housing. Use a 16 gauge double-galvanized wire with half-inch gaps.
Provide toys, chewing logs, and hay. You should also play with them or train them using rabbit-repellent sprays.
A great tip is to make sure they have enough outside playtime.
Lastly, look out for signs that your bunnies are planning their great escape. Regularly check the housing for signs of biting.
Keeping chickens and rabbits together means customizing their housing. It entails watching out for diseases that can spread too.
It can be a bit of a hassle, so why do people do it?
- It saves you space as they can share outdoor areas.
- Chickens and rabbits are both social and they can find comfort in each other’s company.
- They have similar requirements for housing.
- It’s economical since the chickens eat the rabbits’ leftovers.
Can rabbits and chickens live together? The answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as throwing them into a cage together.
You’ll have to make adjustments for both animals and watch out for food that they can’t share. It’s also important to keep their space clean to avoid diseases from spreading.
Nevertheless, keeping rabbits and chickens together can have its perks and you might want to try it!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.