Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One Big Happy Family ?

I've been looking around at what I have to work with in regard to building, stuff on hand, animals and space.  I have come up with some changes I'd like to make, and I admit, I'm pretty excited about them.

Now that the big chickens are gone, the 10x10 henhouse is empty.  The first order of business is to take out the nests, roost and feed bins and clean it really well.  After that I plan to pressure wash the walls - repeatedly - until I get them clean enough to paint.  Once the walls are re-painted, I plan to build in some rabbit cages so the rabbits can stay there during the winter months.  The building is insulated and I think it will be more comfortable for them.  That building also has a brooder built into one corner, which would work great as a rabbit exercise area.  The floor is concrete.  Ammonia can be a concern with a concrete floor, but I've got a box I put on the floor under each rabbit's 'poo corner'.  By emptying that regularly, I should be able to keep ammonia buildup in check. 

I won't have any rabbit cages down low...that way, the silkies can use the floor space for their winter home.  Silkies don't roost like other chickens do - at least mine never really have - so I don't have to worry about them flying up on top of the rabbit cages and pooping on bunnies.  I can put the nests down low for them and put a roosting pole for them to use if they like, and they will still have plenty of space. 

Having the rabbits and the silkies together in one building will make chores a lot simpler.  This building is close to the house and very close to the water, which will be nice on really cold days.  Since they get along well and use the space differently, I think it will work fine for everyone. 

One thing I'm wondering about is dust.  This building is ventilated - there is a doorway down low for the chickens to get out to the chicken run, and there is a small window on the door as well.  I know that big chickens (standard sized ones) are very good at making things dusty, and while I don't really see the silkies do a lot of dust-bathing, I wonder if that will bother the rabbits. 

I'll have the summer to work on all this and I'll post photos as I make progress.  In late fall, when the garden is done, I can move the animals into this space.  Best of all, the outdoor run for the silkies will be one of this year's garden spaces, so they should have some nice treats to come in and clean up.  Seems like it will work well for all of us.

Is that all optimism?  Do you have any experience with rabbits and chickens in the same housing?  If you have any tips or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  Please, do leave a comment!

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