Keeping rabbits in the chicken coop

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by Sherri C, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Sherri C

    Sherri C Plays with yarn

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    I will be buying a couple of English Angora rabbits next weekend. I hadn't planned on getting any this soon but I just found out that the breeder I had planned on buying from is selling off all of her stock. (Not for any bad reason, she's getting married and moving).

    Anyway, we're in the process of building an 8x8 shed to use as a chicken coop. It will have an attached run so the birds will be spending most of the day outside. The rabbit cages are the type that can be suspended from the ceiling, so I was thinking of hanging them inside the chicken coop. I'll put some chickenwire above the cages so the birds can't roost on top of them and poop on the rabbits.

    What do you think, is this OK? I've tried doing some research on housing rabbits and chickens together but I couldn't find any info pro or con.
     
  2. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think that Joel Salatin has a model for raising rabbits over chickens.
     

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sometimes tastebuds need re-education as well.....not everything is supposed to taste like seasoned cardboard. :no:

    Proper ventilation and routine cleaning are important regardless of your method. ;)
     
  4. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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    An 8 x 8 shed is pretty small, but with the runs for your
    chickens to be outside, I'd say a couple rabbits would
    not be a bad thing.

    We have a large greenhouse we're using for rabbits and
    chickens. I'm not sure what's behind Runners put down
    of Joel's methods...we visited his farm many times and
    unlike most modern farms, The Salatin Farm is free of
    disgusting manure odors and is green when the others
    nearby are brown! He uses deep litter to mulch the
    animal droppings and his chickens were not covered in
    rabbit urine. I have to defend his methods because
    I've seen his set up, have modified it for our property,
    and it does work wonderfully. We started out with fresh
    sawdust in our rabbit/chicken quarters, and if it began
    to smell during the closed up winter months, we added
    more sawdust and/or got in and shovelled under the
    top layer. The chickens do a good job themselves since
    they love to scratch. Any hay or alfalfa pellets that drop
    become chicken feed (and makes darker yolks) or compost.
    Yes, they do scratch and peck up some bunny poop, but
    that is the nature of a chicken. Ever see one got through
    a pile of horse droppings? You'd think they'd struck gold!
    We do not give our bunnies medication that could create
    a problem for the birds. When the sawdust builds up, it
    makes wonderful compost for the garden.

    I believe it was mainly the breeding stock and kits
    that were in Joel's chicken quarters. Those being
    raised for meat were put on pasture after weaning.
    The chickens he had in with the rabbits were raised
    for eggs and replacement pullets. His pastured
    poultry aren't under rabbit cages, but in movable
    pens in the fresh air. They are very delicious and
    healthier than merely *organic* birds. We have
    no problem selling our eggs for $2/doz. and people
    can tell the difference between ours and the store
    because they look and taste wonderful.

    Joel HAS the wisdom from his many trials and errors.
    It's preposterous to say that this man has forgotten
    his roots because his income has increased. He takes
    on city hall almost daily so other Virginians can raise,
    eat and sell their own food.

    I'd give it a try, and if you're in a very warm climate,
    you could design rabbit cages that also open to an
    outside suspended run. I've done this before by
    attaching a cage under the overhang on my barn.
    Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

    Enjoy those fluffy bunnies!
     
  5. Sherri C

    Sherri C Plays with yarn

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    Thanks for turning my simple question into a bashing thread. I'd heard this board was unfriendly but geez...
     
  6. Tiffann4k

    Tiffann4k Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Sherri, I hope somewhere in that mess you got an answer :)

    Tiffany
     
  7. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Ummmm...not trying to bash, here, but I raise French angoras, and have chickens, too, and there are a couple things you'll have to watch. Dust, heat, and ventilation.

    My chickens and rabbits share a building, but not the same space. Yet the rabbit side of the building is covered in dust kicked up by the chickens on their side :rolleyes: Really great for the wool, not to mention the digestive tract as they groom it off of themselves. Not!

    I don't know where you live, so I don't know if the heat and humidity will be a problem, but since angoras are even more sensitive to them than regular rabbits, you'll need to make sure the place is well ventilated without being drafty. My rabbit side has a wire south side, with vented eaves, and a wall vent in the north side, as well as a wired opening to the chicken side to take advantage of their windows. (of course, that's part of the dust problem :no: ) I have a fan in front of the wall vent that's set to blow over the hanging cages, and keep the temp down. Just hitting the 70's here, and already I've got panting rabbits if I don't have it on days.

    At any rate, the dust and extra humidity from the chickens may cause your English angoras to matt even more than normal...and that's saying a lot for the English! They could also contribute to respiratory problems.

    So, my suggestion would be to try it...but watch and keep an eye out for things, and be prepared to move them if need be. I think your climate, the bedding you use in your chicken house, and all that other stuff will make a difference, and you may have no problems at all...just keep an eye out!

    We'll be moving ours as soon as we can build a separate rabbit house. As soon as.....most spoken words by a homesteader.


    Good luck,
    Meg
     
  8. Sherri C

    Sherri C Plays with yarn

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    Thanks for the info Meg, those were my concerns as well. I've been doing some creative thinking and I think I've figured out a way for the rabbits to have their own space. We have a larger dirt-floored shed in the back yard where DH keeps the lawnmower. It needs a little work but it's not in too bad of shape. My truck won't fit into the garage so I'll just convince DH to park the lawnmower there instead and let me have the shed.

    Just to clarify, I'm talking about 10 chickens and 2 rabbits. Joel Salatin I'm not!
     
  9. slfisher

    slfisher Well-Known Member

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    On hot days here I take frozen two-liter bottles of water and put one in each rabbit cage. They snuggle right up to them. Bunny air conditioning.

    I have my rabbits on the outside of a shed, in a sheltered area that is part of the chickens' outside run. The rabbits are shielded from the wind and direct sunlight. It's getting to be about time for me to go out there with a shovel and wheelbarrow and clean up the year's accumulation of fertilizer.
     
  10. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well I missed all the excitement.....sound like someone was :grump:
     
  11. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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    If anyone reading my earlier post defending JS's methods
    was offended, I do apologize. I know we can't always
    sound in print the way we intend, but knowing what a
    good and decent person he is, I was compelled to reply.

    SherriC, I hope we can dispell the rumor that this board
    is unfriendly. Over the past few years reading on and
    off here, I'd hope you'd have found as much help and
    kindness as I have. None of us are perfect as you know
    and certainly wouldn't want any throats slit. :rolleyes:

    Meg made an excellent point about the dust...we have
    plywood with clear plastic side 'drapes' above our meat
    rabbits to keep the chickens and alot of the dust off them.

    We once had a couple angoras caged in a spare room of
    our house but wound up moving them out to the feed
    room because they were making a mess in OUR house.
    The feed room was rather dusty and we DID have a
    matting problem...thought it was because we didn't
    groom enough. A shady spot and circulating air will help,
    and perhaps you could have a pit under their cages for
    raising worms.

    Would ice bottles contribute to matting in angoras?
    I know it helps non-wool breeds stay cool.
     
  12. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I use ice bottles on mine, too, when it's really hot. Mine won't lay up against the bottles, though. I figure even if they don't, it's gotta cool the air in there by what? half a degree? :no: However, the French angora are much less prone to matting than the English angora, so mine wouldn't be a fair test, anyway.

    I've got a worm bed under them, too, so I only clean out from under when I want worms or compost for the garden.

    Just as a comment...I've been coming here for a while now, and haven't found any rude comments. (I have no idea what was deleted on here). Sometimes people with pet rabbits do get offended when people talk about meat rabbits, but there's more than one way of turning a profit (what this thread is about) from rabbits. Fiber and bunny berries are both salable items that don't require any bunny deaths. I breed mine, though, and only will sell the good tempered, easy handling buns out of any litter...and eat the rest. A mean, hard to handle angora will not get groomed properly, and that will ultimately mean a slow painful death from matt sores and infections. No, thanks!

    I'll jump off the soap box now...stick around Sherri C...it's not too bad a place.
    Meg
     
  13. Lilandra

    Lilandra talk little, listen much

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    Sorry, I strongly disagree with keeping rabbits and chickens together.

    Rabbits can harbor deadly chicken diseases that can wipe out your flock and cause you a lot of grief in cleaning up afterwards. The rabbits also can get the snuffles from living in a dusty enviroment as well as developing allergies to the dust and smells from the chickens no matter how clean you keep things.

    The biggest problem I have ( I am a chicken person who has kids that like rabbits) is that over in Asia, the practices of raising animals over others is the main source for their disease problems such as bird flu and TB as well as other ailments. Remember, chicken droppings are disease laiden even under the best conditions...ask over on the poultry board for more info.

    What might be good in the short run with good animal husbandry, isn't going to be healthy in the long run when weather, personal issues and such stress your animals and open them up to diseases.

    If the barn is big enough, and there is enough ventilation, and no one is above another species litter -- it might work, but back in the day, folks still kept the chickens in different buildings than their other livestock... I'm still hesitant to think it would work with buns and chicks.
     
  14. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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    ...or can if done right.
    Guess a bunch of us who double up animals like chooks
    and buns are just lucky. :)

    I would NOT recommend this method if you are medicating
    either species, however.

    Once again, just look at the patterns in creation...birds
    clean up after other animals, debugging and scratching
    piles into smaller, more easily degraded pieces. It's not
    until we interfere with our poisons and unnatural feeds
    that we see epidemics. The method may not be for you,
    but IS working well for quite a few. Have to strongly
    disagree w/ 4HMom's statements.
     
  15. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I haven't done the rabbits over chickens thing, but am strongly considering it. My question is the dust. If you keep the chicken bedding slightly damp, that would cut way back on dust, wouldn't it? I mean, not so damp that it gets stinky, just kind of damp so it composts a little and the dust stays on the floor. What do you think?
     
  16. hollym

    hollym Well-Known Member

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    I don't have a lot of dust with my Silkies, they scratch and all, but just don't raise much? I'm in Texas, so my henhouses have a lot of hardware cloth walls, two are solid on my new one, two are mostly hw cloth? I also use hay and shavings for litter, just throw loose hay on the messy spots to keep things tidy.

    Another idea I'm working out is having the rabbit droppings go directly into a rubbermaid tub with worms in it. That way there would be very little contact of the chickens with the rabbit wastes.

    hollym
     
  17. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    I'm not saying dual-species housing won't work, but 4HMom's post did give me some food for thought. This is an experimental method after all. How do we know what the long term health and environmental consequences are?

    BTW, I am playing around with dual-species housing. The rabbits are in hanging cages inside a 8' by 16' hoophouse with eight hardened off (pretty much fully feathered) chicks underneath. They're still pretty little, but if they start flying up on top of the cages they are out. (The adult chickens we had in there for a few days flew up on top of the cages and pooped all over.) Maybe the rabbit house will work for growing out little hardened chicks, but I'm a bit skeptical and am going to watch things closely. I cannot endanger my bunnies' health.

    rabbitgal
     
  18. GrannySue

    GrannySue Active Member

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    When I started over for the second time (I'm on my third now), the man I bought my breeding stock from kept chickens and rabbits together in (what I considered) a very small space. Neither the birds nor the bunnies seemed any the worse for wear, but I was apprehensive... Still - I didn't know about this forum, and he was 'the only thing going' for about 100 miles that I could find!

    My breeding stock all performed quite well - better than I'd hoped. And, he is still in business, as well as feeding his own family off of his stock. I don't know that I would copy his setup for myself, but here's what he had:

    The rabbits were in a long row of cages, set at the same height as the roosts for the chickens, each occupied 1/2 the building. They were run down the center, creating two 'aisles', one in front, and one in back of the rabbit cages/roosting bars. In back were the nest boxes for the hens. Something I thought at the time was rather ingenious is that the back wall of the building had two rows of doors set on piano hinges so he could collect eggs and clean the nests from the outside!

    Anyway, he dropped chicken wire from the backs of the cages to the floor, hung plastic sheeting along that, and kept everything well littered and mucked out. Reading the other posts, seems I would have run plastic away from the back of the hutches, and from the top line, instead of the bottom one...

    The only real light other than from a series of small windows opposite the front of the rabbit cages was from heat lamps (I bought my bunnies in December that time). I suppose he intended to build another row of cages on the wall under the windows, but hadn't at that time.

    THe rabbit cages were rather interesting as well. They were set, like I said, at the height of the roosts. The tops could be tilted up entirely, but each also had a 'door' so that you wouldn't HAVE to raise the entire 'roof' - AND he had a door in the front and back. Seemed like an awful lot of extra work building them that way, but I guess it saved some work in that you could get to the bunnies four different ways depending on what you were doing.

    Like I said - don't know that I would do it the same way, but it WAS clean, didn't stink of either rabbits OR chickens, and he was doing rather well.

    Sue