Chickens and rabbits are perfect for the person who wants to raise their animals in a small space. If you're a small farm owner, you may be tempted to put your chickens and rabbits together. Even though it's the perfect Easter egg picture you might want to reconsider your choices. Rabbits and chickens aren't made for each other. Consider diseases, care, food and other concerns before putting them together.
Diseases that Rabbits and Chickens can Contract
The major reason for keeping rabbits and chickens apart is disease. Chickens can infect rabbits, and vice versa. While coccidia is common between both species, salmonella, pasteurella multocida and streptococcosis pose more significant problems. Salmonella is endemic to chickens and can make your rabbits sick. Likewise pasteurellosis can cause cholera if transferred from rabbits to chickens. Because chickens will eat rabbit feces and defecate wherever they are, it is likely that both species will share diseases, which could prove fatal.
Caring for Baby Chicks and Rabbits
Chicks require care from a broody hen or heat from a brooder. Chicks need adequate heat for several weeks to survive. Rabbit babies need to nurse and stay in their nest with their mother. The two setups are not conducive to raising baby chicks or rabbits together. Rabbits should be kept away from fragile baby chicks. An adult rabbit could accidentally squish several chicks. It's better that the chicks stay in their brooder and the baby rabbits stay with their mom in a nest.
Feeding your Chickens and Rabbits
Chickens and rabbits have different nutritional needs. If your chickens eat your rabbit food, or vice versa, it can cause severe nutritional deficiencies. Unless the food is separated from each species, both are likely to get into each others' food. A rabbit's food needs to be monitored to assure proper mating and a healthy litter of baby rabbits. Overweight rabbits have breeding problems. If you free feed, you're likely to have overweight rabbits and breeding problems. Furthermore, chickens likely will defecate in the rabbits' food, causing the potential spread of disease.
Keep them Separated
The good news is that it's easy enough to give your chickens and rabbits enough room without having them contaminate each other's space. Keeping your bunnies in an enclosed run that chickens can't get into is one way to ensure that your animals stay healthy. Another is to have a dedicated coop and run for your birds. That way, you can enjoy your rabbits and chickens.
- Net Vet UK: Coccidiosis in Rabbits
- Bird Gard: United States Department of Agriculture, Health Hazards of Bird Droppings
- Extension: Interactions of Chickens in Small and Backyard Poultry Flocks with Other Species
- House Rabbit Society: Domestic Baby Bunnies and Their Mom
- My Pet Chicken: Chapter 4: Caring for Baby Chicks
- UroshPetrovic/iStock/Getty Images