Rabbit farming is not very popular amongst us in Zimbabwean , this is because of the way we view them. But quite recently a few individuals have taken upon themselves to domesticate rabbit not only for its socio-cultural benefits (pet) but also for its economic value.
It is a very prolific animal just like pig and grasscutter. It is said to be the second most prolific animal.
This is because the female can litter 25-30 kits in a year. For the record it is has been discovered that eating of one rabbit is equal to eating of two chicken because of their protein content.
That is why it is now being openly accepted by many people even in European countries.
As a result this, their meat is now very expensive.
Rabbit can be hunted for in the wild but to guide against their going into extinction it is wise to domesticate them.
I remember those days when my brother and my cousin used to set traps for rabbit they were catching them on a daily basis. They will prepare and eat them alone. But one day they decided to give me out of it, did I enjoy it?
I think it will be an understatement for me to say yes. It was as if I shouldn’t stop the eating but to continue for God knows….
This debate has gone on between grasscutter and rabbit farming as per which is more profitability.
For me rabbit farming is more profitable than grasscutter farming this is because rabbit can deliver up to 30 kids and above in a year, gestation period is just a month while grasscutter can litter an average of 8, as they can deliver only twice in a year, their gestation period is between 140-154 days and so on and so forth.
In this article we shall be looking at their cage construction, gestation period, why you should go into rabbit farming, how to feed them and all that is necessary to know in regards to rearing them.
RABBIT CAGE CONSTRUCTION
There are actually no specifications for dimension; you can build it the way it will be convenient for you to manage. But here are some steps to follow:
Height 70inches, width 42 inches, depth 22 inches
20 inches for hutches and you need 3 hutches for the height and 10 extra for their standing. This makes it a total of 70 inches for the height.
Width (2) 20 inches for each hutch and extra 2 inches for contingencies, making it 42 inches altogether.
Use a V-shape aluminium sheet underneath the cages for the urine and faeces to be channelled away (maybe into a gutter).
This way the remaining faeces can easily be flushed away pour pouring water from the top down.
The rabbit house must be spacious in expectations for the young ones. It should be constructed in a way that direct sunlight and rainfall are avoided.
Use a cage that is more open during heat then use tarpaulin to cover it up during cold period.
Use hard woods in their cage constructions just in case they want to eat it u. Rabbits don’t eat wood regularly but occasionally when the need arises.
They start to look for what to eat in other to suppress their teeth from growing wild because their teeth is said to grow every day. Rabbit also eat wood when they mating more violently.
TYPES OF RABBIT
• New Zealand
• Chin chilla
• California white etc.
The most popularly grown rabbit in Kenya is Newzealand.
FERTILITY IN RABBIT FARMING
The gestation period of rabbit is just a month (31 days). They are capable of reproducing 7 times in a year.
The young rabbit (kits) sucks for only one and a half months before weaning so as to prepare the doe for the buck. 2 females and a male can give approximately 48 rabbits in 6 months.
Rabbits are very unique as the can conceive a day after delivery. But wisdom demands that the rest for about 1-2 months before taking them for mating so they won’t over stress. Remember the theory of diminishing returns.
The kit takes about 5-7 months to mature and breed. The male and female rabbits should not be put in the same cage; this is due to their behaviours.
They like conquering territories and feel safer when left alone. But the duo can only be brought together for the purpose of mating after which they should be separated.
Does should be put in boxes when they are due, to litter in and also feed the young there. During delivery they pull most of their hair (which they possess in great number) to insulate the babies.
At four month rabbits are ready for slaughter, this is the stage they are also very sexually active. Rabbits can live both in the wild and at home between 8-10 years.
FEEDING OF RABBIT
Provide food for them 2 times a day (morning and evening). Feed them more of coarse ground dry corn, soya and any other leguminous crop during dry season. Because it is what they prefer most rabbits do eat kitchen left over such as beans, yam peelings etc. In short they can eat any other thing apart from meat.
They also like tridax, sweet potato, leaves, ripe paw paw and milky weeds. Once in a while they eat the soft pellet of their faeces in other to recover the nutrient in their droppings.
BENEFITS OF RABBIT MEAT
1. It is a source of food which is particularly good for pregnant women.
Rabbit meat is rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals, their fibres are easy to chew, digest and have a great taste.
2. They have high protein content but low in fat when compared to other animals. It is recommended for persons who are suffering from obesity because it is helpful in losing weight.
3. Good for hypertension patients because of the presence of small sodium content.
4. Rabbit is helpful in cardiovascular health because it frees harmful cholesterol in the heart.
5. It contains calcium for bone and teeth formation. Also contain Potassium and magnesium for the healthiness of nervous system, strengthening of immune system and protect against stroke.
6. It is good in female fertility and male sexual potency because of the presence of zinc.
7. Rabbit when eaten overtime helps in preventing anaemia due to the presence of high percentage of iron a component of haemoglobin.
8. Their meat also helps in building tissue and muscle due to the presence of phosphorus.
WHY YOU SHOULD ENGAGE IN RABBIT FARMING
1. Rabbit farming is very lucrative, you are sure to make good profits within a year.
2. The capital to start this business is not much.
3. It doesn’t require much space and can be done ant where such as in the store, balcony, passage, under stair case, parking lodge etc.
4. It is highly profitable; you can start selling them after 4 months or use them for multiplication. Under a year you can realise the money you use in setting up the business
There is this believe that if you touch a new born kit with your hands the doe will reject them because they have that instinct in them to discern it.
The best remedy for this scenario is to use their mother’s urine to rob her mouth part so that she will not be able to detect any touch.
Advertise to people who are into barbecue, hotels, bars, restaurant, road side bush meat vendors, individuals etc.
Funny though many people are looking for where to purchase rabbit without success so you can take it a step further by advertising online through market stores or other social media avenue.
The beautiful side of this business is that after the first marketing, you wouldn’t have to do that again as people will be hunting you for supply.
You can also sell to people who want to start rearing them as well.
HYGIENE IN RABBIT FARMING
There is the need to keep rabbit environment clean this is because they are susceptible to diseases just like any other animal.
They are very delicate as such their surrounding must be from dirt, snakes, rodents, flies, pest and other predators.
Rabbits may likely die from any small scratch on their bodies.
You can give them medicine against Newcastle diseases but if you notice white rashes in their ear or nose give them Ivermectin injection.
Apart from high nourishing meat gotten from rabbit, their urine and faeces can be used as organic fertilizer. It is said that a litre of their urine when mixed can be used to fertilize 1 acre of land.
They also have plenty hair for making coverings. Why not try rabbit farming today and enjoy the benefits of doing so.