October 21, 2017

AGRIBUSINESS: Amassing wealth through rabbit farming

By AgroNigeria

Rabbit farming in Nigeria can be a very profitable agribusiness for anyone knowledgeable in animal husbandry.  Unlike other livestock farming, rabbit farming requires a low capital investment to start up.

Indeed, every part of the rabbit is useful. Its skin, which can be converted into leather is much sought by shoe and bag making factories. Its fur is used for manufacturing clothes while bones go into the production of livestock feed. The rabbit’s meat of course, makes for a delicacy when properly cooked. Live rabbits on the other hand are used as specimens for tests in laboratories.

Before venturing into the rabbit-breeding business, it is imperative to be well-grounded in the knowledge of the animals, how to raise them and which customers to approach for marketing.

Therefore, as an aspiring rabbit farmer, you must know the following.

HOUSING

Rabbits are sensitive to space and when not granted enough to freely move about, often exhibit abnormal behavior. This includes repetitive chewing of cage bars or over-grooming. The rabbitry should be an enclosed construction with proper ventilation, lighting, heating, and cooling systems. Heating and ventilation are crucial because rabbits do not tolerate extreme temperatures very well. You should maintain the herd on a year-round schedule of 12 hours each of light and darkness to keep them breeding throughout the year.

Rabbits can be kept in cages, hutches or in a house. Whichever the case is, their living quarters should accommodate enough room for their feeders, drinkers, kits and expansion of their quantity.

The cage for housing rabbits must be adequate in size. You may construct it yourself but it is advisable to allow a professional handle the job for you. You can also start the business in your backyard if you have good space management skills.

Regardless, rabbits are good at taking care of themselves once you create a nice habitat for them. Better still, they permit you to keep your day job while you rear them if you so choose.

BREEDING AND PRODUCTION

Commencing rabbit farming in Nigeria demands that you have a good understanding of the breeds. Some of these breeds are the Flemish giant, English lop, Dwarf lop, English Andorra, Dutch rabbits, Chinchilla and British giants amongst others.

Rabbits multiply rapidly and they start breeding at 4 to 5 months of age. The gestation period for the doe (female rabbit) is 31 days and she could give birth to between 6 and 10 kits (baby rabbits) in one go. Rabbits are also able to reproduce seven times a year. The doe being capable of producing up to 50 baby rabbits in a year translates into good income with successful breeding.

For reproduction to take place, the buck and doe must be kept together to induce mating, after which they should be kept in separate cages. Bucks should be used for reproduction at least once in four days. The mating process could be scheduled for every three weeks or every six weeks depending on your level of patience.

FEEDING

Rabbits should be fed at least twice a day, and provided with plenty of water. Though the best food for them is grass, they can also be fed cabbage and lettuce. Rabbits are naturally nocturnal creatures, preferring to eat at night.Therefore, feeding them well in the evening is critical. If you have an intention to introduce a new type of food, do it slowly for these creatures don’t adapt swiftly.

But if opting for processed feed, it is important to find out the exact amount of what they consume on a daily basis. This will help you avoid wastage.

Two types of nutrition programs are used for raising rabbits. They consist of the hay and grain diets or commercial pre-balanced pellet rations. Pellet rations meet all of a rabbit’s nutritional requirements and are more convenient than formulating hay and grain rations.

Pregnant does and those with litters should receive all the feed they can eat in a day while Bucks and does without litters need 6 to 8 ounces of pellets a day.
When raising Angora rabbits, you should avoid feeding them hay because dust will contaminate the wool and lower its quality.

 MARKETING AND SALES

Not many people are involved in commercial rabbit production in Nigeria. Because of this, it has been almost impossible for the few existing rabbit farmers to satisfy market demand. Therefore, once you set up your own rabbit farming business in Nigeria, you are already on your way to becoming a silent millionaire.

You can make your sales in the local market. If you prefer not to stay all day long selling rabbits, consider getting somebody to sell them for you. Social Media is also a reliable platform for attracting patronage. Unfortunately, poor marketing is the main drawback for rabbit farming in the country.

DISEASE CONTROL

The most important factors for maintaining a healthy rabbit herd are cleanliness, good ventilation, close observation, and protection from sun and rain.

Rabbits are susceptible to several diseases that can reduce production to unprofitable levels. The respiratory disease caused by Pasturellamultocida is responsible for decreased productivity and a high mortality rate in does.

To help prevent diseases, do not permit casual visitors entry into the rabbitry. They may introduce a disease or cause additional stress to the animals. Also, isolate any sick or injured rabbit immediately. Disinfect both the isolation cage and the rabbit’s regular cage to avoid further spread of the disease.

For a good health program, you should keep accurate records of each animal. Provide each rabbit with a tattoo identification number or ear tag and attach an identification card with health and breeding information to its hutch.
@WPPJr
Editor/Publisher
ESANLAND