Before you throw or give away that empty rabbit hutch, you may want to consider using it for your backyard chickens. It’s much easier to create a DIY chicken coop than you think, and it’s less expensive than buying a brand new one. I’ve done the leg work of putting all the information from videos, forums, and other online sources to help make the process easier for you.
Can You Turn A Rabbit Hutch Into A Chicken Coop?
Rabbit hutches and chicken coops have very similar characteristics that make it easy to convert it to a chicken coop or vice versa. Here’s what you’ll need to take into consideration when making the conversion.
*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
- A good branch for a resting perch
- Making a comfortable nesting box
- Elevated, so it doesn’t rot.
- Enforce the sides, so it doesn’t break down from the elements.
- Hardware cloth to keep predators out!
The following are some things you need to consider to determine if your chickens will be able to live comfortably in the rabbit hutch.
Preparing the Rabbit Hutch for Your Chickens
Before you build anything, there are some factors you want to take into consideration. After all, if it’s too small, damaged, or just doesn’t get clean, it just won’t work.
Check for Signs of Chewing Damage
Bunnies love to chew, so you’ll want to inspect the hutch to ensure it doesn’t have severe damage. Some rabbits have damaged parts of their hutch just by chewing on it.
Inspect the areas around where the hardware cloth is attached to the doors, baseboards, and wooden frames.
Clean The Hutch
If you had outdoor rabbits, you might find that the hutch has stubborn deposits that need to be cleaned before using it for your chickens, especially if it wasn’t cleaned often.
Those deposits can make the hutch smelly, damp, and uncomfortable for your backyard chickens. No matter how long the hutch has been empty, you’ll want to clean it before putting your chickens in it.
Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to convert it to a chicken coop. This video will walk you through the process.
I’ve also broken down the steps in detail below, so let’s get started.
Materials you will need:
- Chicken feeder
- Chicken wire
- Measuring tape
- Nesting boxes and bedding
- Roosting post
- Chicken waterer
Converting Rabbit Hutch Into A Chicken Coop
Turning a hutch into a poultry house is not as challenging as you might think. Below are the most important things to consider when converting the bunny home for your chickens.
Size of the Rabbit Hutch
According to The Rabbit House, the average consists of 6′ x 2′ of living space. It should be enough space for smaller chickens or a small number of chickens. If you have a large chicken breed, you may want to consider investing in a good coop with plenty of room.
A good rule of thumb is chickens need 5 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop and 8-10 feet outside in the run. If your chickens will be using the coop for their sleeping quarters and a run, ensure it has no less than 10 square feet of living space.
Your chickens should be able to stand up inside the huge without issues. Keep this in mind if your chickens are young and still growing.
If it has more space, that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t have less.
Where to Place The Hutch?
Choose a level spot in your yard to prevent the hutch from tipping. Place the hutch on cinder blocks to prevent the bottom from rotting in the weather.
In the heat, the birds will lay under the “cage” and take dirt baths, so ensure they have enough space to crawl under the coop.
Roosting bars are recommended for any coop to provide comfort and safety for your flock. A sturdy branch, rubberized pole, or lumber can be used as a perch bar. Avoid using plastics or metals that will be slippery and hard for your chickens to grip and can cause bumblefoot.
Place the bar at least 3 inches high. The length will vary depending on the hutch’s size, but it’s best to have a perch with 10 inches of roosting space per chicken. (although the birds will perch close together, especially to stay warm in the winter.)
Place the roost away from the nesting boxes, waterers, and feeders. Otherwise, chicken droppings will soil everything, making it challenging to keep them clean.
Remove the rabbit bowls and replace them with wood shavings, straw, or sawdust to provide your chickens a nesting box. Never use cedar shavings as they can be dangerous to your birds.
You can even use an old Costco box filled with hay to prevent the eggs from sliding out. This video walks you through on how to make a chicken nest box out of a box.
Enforcing the Sides
Ensure the sides of the hutch are durable and can withstand being out in the elements. If using plywood, ensure you prime and paint it to make it last for several years.
Chickens have many predators, from foxes, dogs, cats, raccoons, etc. will dig to gain access to your chickens. Opt for a 1/4 hardware cloth like this consisting of a welded wire that is durable enough to keep smaller critters out of the coop.
The galvanized wire mesh will not rust when sitting out in the elements. Ensure you dig a shallow trench before installing to prevent critters from getting through.
A bunny hutch makes a great chicken house, and it just takes a little bit of time to convert it. If you don’t have a hutch, but need a place for your chickens to live, then consider searching Craigslist or Facebook Market Place to find one that people are giving away.
Your chickens will love their new home. Just make sure it’s not occupied with rabbits as chickens and rabbits shouldn’t share the same hutch!