How to achieve maximum production and returns from rabbit farming
While some people may still consider rabbit farming as a hobby only done by small boys today it is turning into a cash cow for farmers who are practicing it.
This could be shown by proof of Rabbit Solutions Limited at the recently concluded Nairobi 2019 Show whose farm was often crowded by curious farmers and students who could seem to not get enough of the rabbits on the display.
Farmers.co.ke spoke to Samuel who is a rabbit farmer, expert and veterinary at the farm who shared with us the best tips in rabbit farming to reap big.
Samuel began by sharing with us that a farmer should first research and seek out the best market near them for the rabbit products.
Rabbits are reared mainly for their sweet meat which fetches good money as it is one of the best sources of protein and nutrients.
Rabbits are very fast growing animals reaching maturity fast and become suitable for slaughtering within four to five months.
Rabbit farming in Kenya requires very low capital investment to start.
Interested farmers willing to start rabbit farming should source for the best breeds such as California White, New Zealand, Checkered Giant, and Flemish Giant.
Some breeds attain five kilograms when fully mature which goes up to 3.5 kilograms’ meat when slaughtered.
A farmer should feed the rabbits with quality feeds. Rabbits are easy to keep as they feed on most natural green plants such as weeds, grass, vegetables, and hay.
A farmer should supplement their diet with pellets and give them adequate water which boosts their growth rate and helps them achieve the required weight on time.
Rabbits have the highest feed conversion ratios of 4:1 consuming about 130 grams per day.
A farmer should ensure the right breeding takes place.
The most critical time for rabbits is after females give birth. The bunnies usually require a lot of basic care including keeping them warm and ensuring the mother breastfeeds them.
Proper management and disease control.
The farmer should remember to vaccinate them regularly to keep them free from all types of rabbit diseases and infections.
A farmer should also set up a good structure for the rabbits.
The hutch should be raised from the ground, cleaned regularly, kept dry, have maximum ventilation, allow easy rabbits movement and warm during the cold seasons.
Rabbits offer many products that can be value-added like urine which is used to make fertilizer, waste is used as farm manure or droppings as tilapia food.
Rabbit meat is processed to make sausages, rabbit balls, cookies, rabbit pie, rabbit kebab, rabbit "mishkaki" and samosas.
After slaughter, the rabbits’ heads, spleens, kidneys, and heart are used to manufacture dog food.
The fur and skin are used to make expensive coats, shoes, sandals, headgear, and bags.
A farmer can, therefore, earn more income from rabbit rearing and its products and by-products value addition.