Thryonomys swinderianus”, also known as Cane Rats and Grasscutter in English-speaking West African countries, Agouti in French-speaking West African countries and hedgehogs in Central Africa, are rodents widely found in wet or grassland areas in Africa. Though these animals are widely hunted in Africa, they can be domesticated like other micro-livestock such as rabbits.

Grasscutters possess some intrinsic characteristics. They are placid, relatively prolific and can grow rapidly in intensive conditions. Grasscutters become sexually active and mature at age 5-6 months. At this age, they reproduce and give birth to as high as 12 young.
In terms of agricultural value, grasscutters can be easily reared or managed, and this made their domestication as an alternative to poaching them in the wild. The meats of grasscutters contain lots of protein and is economically valuable across the globe.
They are Very Cheap to Rare
You can start raising grasscutter with a wooden cage and one colony (a family of grasscutter breeders). A colony of grasscutter comprises one male and four females. The cost of a colony ranges from 40,000 – 50,000 NGN, depending on the age and species. You should be able to get a good cage constructed by an artisan for as low as 10,000 NGN. You can place the cage anywhere in your compound, provided it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
Meat Production
A good means to produce meat for human consumption is by raising grasscutters. They are fast-growing, tough and long living giant rodents. With little feed, they attain a very plausible body weight within a very short time. This means they are high, efficient converters of feed. In fact, grasscutters feed and convert wide range of grasses and vegetables to meat. The males attain a body size that doubles the size of chicken meat. In addition, Thryonomys swinderianus grows fast and at 12 weeks old, they are ready to be sold as breeders. The combination of their fast maturation and cheapness of feed qualifies cane rats as worthy of raising and for market purpose.
Breeding Stock Production
The most lucrative part of cane rat farming is the breeding stock production. A cane rat is ready to be used as breeding stock at age 3-4 months old. It was stated earlier that a colony comprises a male and four females. A productive colony that is well managed can produce between 50- 56 cane rats in a year. Can you see the profits you will make?
To Create Employment Opportunities
Financing, producing, processing, transporting and exporting of the products of grasscutter can create employment opportunities for a lot of people. Additionally, keeping grasscutters for local human consumption will greatly reduce the rate of importing fish, turkey, chicken and frozen meat, and there will be increased Forex earnings when grasscutter meats are exported. The GDP will improve, as inflation and unemployment will also reduce.
To Make Profit
Grasscutter farming is one of the ways you can put food on your table and generate money into your purse without spending a huge sum of money. You can earn profits by selling grasscutters (live or smoked), to restaurant owners. The manure can also be sold to smallholder farmers and worm growers and you can as well sell to people who intend to raise them.
There is a Ready Market
No doubt! The meat of grasscutter is delicious and there is a ready market for your grasscutters or cane rats. Many people go to restaurants to eat grasscutter’s meat. Hence, making restaurant owners demand more to satisfy their customers. No matter the number of cane rats you possess, you will surely get buyers who are ready to purchase. Meat is low in cholesterol and health scientists have confirmed that there are healthy benefits in consuming the animal.
Nutritionists have also advised people to consume “bush meat” because it is in the class of white meat. Also, grasscutters are universally accepted for consumption, eating their meat has no religious or cultural taboos.
High Multiplication
Grasscutters can produce many litters. In this category, they are next to pigs and rabbits. A doe of good species can deliver up to 14 litters in a year. They have a rearing period of 24 to 26 weeks and they possess high resistance to ailments.
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