A Rabbit and Chickens

Phoebe has now been with us for one year! Before Phoebe, there was Candy, the Empress of the Hen Yard. Phoebe is an entirely different bunny. Whereas Candy had her own hutch, and, like a doorman at a nightclub, let only a few select hens in, Phoebe has no interest in living the high life. There is a hutch. The chickens use it for a nesting box.



There are times to force an issue, and times not to. This was a not to. I had my son build a box to put under her house. That’s where she has her hay, and where she takes her daytime naps.

hay nest


Phoebe prefers to sleep inside with the flock; she likes it under their nesting boxes. In the heat of the summer, she sprawls out on the cool concrete. Her rabbit pellets are there, which she eats, but she also likes to nibble on chicken feed.

under nest box


Whereas Candy was a bunny with a wicked sense of humor (she’d gallop through the flock just to see them startle), Phoebe is a calming presence. Betsy seeks her out, and then she relaxes enough to preen.

Betsy and Phoebe


The sticks in the chicken pen are there for Phoebe. Rabbits need to chew on wood to keep their teeth the right length. Phoebe prefers apple twigs.

apple stick


Although chickens go right into the coop at dusk to roost, that time of day is when rabbits play. To keep Phoebe safe from predators, she has to have an early bedtime along with the hens. Candy was trained to go into her hutch by being given a nighttime snack of dried banana chips. Phoebe likes those enough, but with the warmer weather, they aren’t enough of a reward. Now that I’ve switched to carrots (a whole carrot, thank-you) Phoebe hops right into the coop when she sees the evening routine happening.

Also, now that it is summer, Phoebe is enjoying a daily dig, and so I take a moment everyday to check the perimeter of the yard to make sure that she hasn’t gone deeper than the fence which is buried 8-inches below ground. I fill in her more ambitious excavations. Keeping a rabbit out with the hens is very good for the bunny, so much fun for us to watch, but it does keep me on my toes.


If you’d like to contribute to Phoebe’s bedtime carrot stash, click on the box on the right (in the sidebar). Thank you for supporting what goes on at Little Pond Farm!


  1. I’d love to add a bunny to our chick mix. Unfortunately, our coop isn’t big enough to add another member to the group. Love hearing about Phoebe though!

  2. Knowing when to push and when to ‘just let it go’ can be a challenging part of working with animals. I remember tuning in one night and watching your son do his darndest to get Phoebe out from under the roost without actually going in and grabbing her. She wasn’t having any of it. Oh, she wanted the goodies alright! But had no interest in getting caught! :D

    • It’s gotten easier now that we figured out that she prefers carrots over banana chips. Just because something works for one animal doesn’t mean it will work for the next :)

  3. I told one of my co-workers about HenCam. The first time she saw Phoebe in the run, she called me excitedly and said “Look on the HenCam quick! There is some kind of animal behind the logs!”. I laughed when I recognized the animal as sweet Phoebe. P.S. I received Terry’s book, The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook, yesterday. Can’t wait until I can sit down this weekend and read it.

  4. Hello! I just came across your hen cam on Pinterest. LOVE it!!!! I don’t have any chickens yet due to township ordinances but I am working on them along with a few other residents. I was surprised to see a bunny in the pen. My dear friend has a wild bunny who hangs out with her free range chickens on the prairie and naps in her coop on hot, sunny afternoons. But I read a few pages that say that penned chickens will likely bully and peck the bunny (even to the death). Do you need to take care to chose more docile hen breeds to house bunnies with the birds? Inquiring minds dreaming of having chickens want to know. ;)

    • With chickens, it’s all about space. The chickens will peck each other to death if too crowded. So, plenty of square footage, both floor and air (roosts outside alleviate a lot of stress), a place for the bunny that’s all her own, a variety of surfaces and things to do, and everyone will get along amicably.

      • Thanks so much! I only expect to have 6 birds (the number I am pushing the township to allow). Of course if an extra hen or 2 should wonder in….. who will know? I have plans for a 4×6 winter coop and a 6 x10 covered winter pen in a sunny location. I’ve been collecting used windows, a steel French door, galvanized roofing, a pile of foam board to insulate, some plastic fiber board for the interior walls, and 2 half round peek vents to prevent condensation. I love Craigs List! For summer there will be a slightly smaller, movable coop on 2 big rusty wagon wheels (so the township can’t call it an illegal permanent structure) set back in a heavily shaded area at the back of the property. The pen will have some movable chicken tunnels running off it and winding through the trees where they forage and explore. I want to have 4 large birds and 2 bantams with a bunny or 2 to start. I guess I should ask if full sized and bantams can also share a pen. I am looking at Orpingtons, Cochins, salmon favorelles and silkies (because they are so plinkin’ cute). All say they are very docile breeds. My husband says my chickens will be living large, LOL. Thanks for all the great info and live cams.

        • Careful with that foam board. Chickens love to peck and eat it. Have heard of numerous disasters because of that. Make sure that every inch of it is covered by sheeting! Other than that, it sounds like a great pile of building materials.

          • Oh yes! LOL! The plastic fiber board is very hard and glossy smooth. Super scrubable. That will line the interior of the coop so they can’t peck at the foam board. From inside out – plastic fiber board, foam board, 2×4 studs, plywood, and vinyl siding. Linoleum flooring. I even have old dish pans to line the nest boxes and the flat under the bed totes to place below the roosts in the coop to catch the droppings. My biggest worry, in trying to make a warm cozy coop,is that I’ll make it too tight knowing chickens put out a lot of moisture. Hoping some peak vents will take care of that. But if I must I can always crack a window or 2. I keep pecking at the township in hopes I can get the coop built this fall so it’s ready for chicks in the spring. Fingers crossed.

              • Well now you have made my day! <3 I told my husband I need a cupola to match up to the cupola's on the house and the pool house (glorified shed beside the pool). He thinks I am building the "Coop Mahal" and did not agree. Now I can say Terry said so. ;) I have a blog I haven't touched in forever. Thinking I may start back & chronicle my backyard chicken experience as I learn the in's and out's. But as hubby says, I'm getting ahead of myself. First I need to get the chicken ordinance changed, LOL. He believes in one thing at a time and never getting your hopes up. I believe in 5 things at a time and letting my hopes soar.

  5. I would love to add a bunny to my hens and coop yard. I even have a hutch with it’s own little “yard” that I could put inside the yard. Here’s my dilemna – I let my hens free range often and they come and go from the coop and yard while they do that. I wouldn’t want to lock them out of it so that the bunny would stay in the yard. What do you do about this? Or don’t you free range? Or maybe you lock them out so that Phoebe is in the yard? Or maybe you just let Phoebe free range too? …. so many questions!… LOL

    • I only free-range when I’m outside. So, the hens don’t stay out for hours. When they are out, the rabbit is kept in the pen. If she had the run of the yard, I’d never get her back.

      • My ex mother in law had rabbits. Someone or something opened about half the hutch doors one day and approximately 10 rabbits were freed. In about 4-6 months there must have been 30-40 rabbits running around the place.
        Rabbits literally run here and running there. Fear not, the coyotes found the a few months after that.

  6. As always great photos. She has a sweet face. So beautiful.

  7. I saw you in the pen, camera in hand. You’ve produced some great shots of Phoebe. She has beautiful colouring.

  8. Pearl must have heard me complaining yesterday that she was always far away from the camera in the barn. Today she spent a lot of time providing me with a close up of her very fluffy bottom.

  9. Great pictures of Phoebe!
    We have wild rabbits around and they run about and graze even while the hens are out free ranging. The hens don’t seem to mind them being around either. The other day I saw one in the hen’s run all stretched out in the soft dirt sun bathing just a couple of feet away from one of our dust bathing hens. I was a little worried about them mingling, but then remembered how Phoebe loves being around the hens so much that she even sleeps with them (I’m sure she’d roost if she could)! I figure if the hens want a couple of new friends and the rabbits aren’t causing any damage, or eating their food, I’ll see how this plays out. Kind of fun to see after watching Phoebe all of this year.

    • Do you know what type of rabbits they are? Around here, native cottontails are near to being endangered. They need open meadow with cover nearby. Either fields are too big and the hedgerows no longer exist, or fields are too overgrown.

    • I have a friend who has free range chickens. They are cooped at night and let loose by day. A wild bunny friended her chickens. When they open the coop in the morning Mr Bunny is sitting just feet away, waiting for those chickens. On hot prairie afternoons he goes in the coop and naps in the hay. There is no shortage of cottontails here (west MI). We have to keep our mid-sized veg garden fenced with chicken wire or there would be nothing left for us to harvest.

  10. Dear Terry,
    Reading your blog today I clicked on Candy in the opening sentence and cried all over again as I did on the day of her passing. She certainly was the Empress of the Hen Yard! :) What is Phoebe’s title?

    • She bonded with the hens and not with me! Phoebe doesn’t like handling, but she does like to come over and be companionable.

      • Companionable … that’s just the perfect way to describe Phoebe!

  11. I’ve read all of this and thought it was great.I have a rabbit that i keep with my two polish chickens.They are all pets and are really friendly and happy together.

  12. My son has a small pond in his backyard and this morning while talking on the phone with me, he said a pair of wild Mallards came out of his barn. This is the third year they have nested on his pond and now they are bold enough to go into the barn for food. We hope they don’t get too heavy to fly south this fall.