Rabbit Farming

Rabbit Farming

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INTRODUCTION

Rabbit production is one of the livestock enterprises with the greatest potential and room for expansion in Kenya. This is because of their minimal investment requirements and ability to reproduce fast. Their feed requirement is low, especially with regard to demand for grain. Their housing and disease control management requirements are also low yet their meat is highly nutritious and healthier source of protein when compared with other sources of meat.Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs. A male rabbit is a buck.  A female rabbit is a doe. A baby rabbit is a kit. When the doe gives birth her babies are collectively referred to as a litter. The gestation period for a rabbit averages 31 days.

PRODUCTION

Breeds New Zealand white, California white, Flemish giant, French lop and angora
Brooding A rabbit meat producer will be concerned with those characteristics that are likely to result in the production of maximum amount of meat at the least cost. The commercial characteristic include: Number of young rabbits born per litter, Number of young rabbit reared per litter, Number of litter per doe per year, Number of young rabbits reared per doe per year, Weaning weight, Live weight gain and Feed conversion rate.Does should be served at between five and six months. Bucks are ready to start serving from 7 months. During mating, the doe is taken to the buck’s hutch and this should only last for 30 minutes after which the doe is taken back to its hutch.  Gestation period is 28 to 32 days. The pregnant doe should be well fed on balanced diet to enhance good mothering abilities increase birth weight of the young rabbits and the milk yield of the mother. Three days before kindling you should provide the doe with a nest-box together with dry beddings like hay or straw.  She will line this with fur plucked from her rump, sides and teat area.  In rare occasions the doe may not pluck the fur to cover the young.  If this happens then the attendant should help in plucking since at this stage the fur is quite loose.
Kits  rearing The kits are born naked without fur and with eyes closed.  The fur begins to grow in a few days after birth and the eyes will open after 10 days.  Little disturbance should be observed with the kits; otherwise regular checking of the nest is advisable to remove the dead ones.Litter size ranges from 2 to 14 kits. The Kits need to suckle for at least two months before they are weaned. Ideally it is wise to serve two to three rabbits at the same time so that extra litter can be transferred to other does for suckling. Before this is done the kits have to be made to smell the scent of their foster mother. This reduces chances of rejection by the foster mother leading to kits mortality. The kits should be separated from the mother at three months and at this time the mother is ready for serving. At the forth month the male kits are separated from the female kits to avoid in- breeding.
Feeds and feeding Rabbits are non ruminants and feed on plant materials and require nutrients such as proteins, energy, minerals, vitamins and fats in specific measures to help rabbits grow well. You can feed your rabbits by providing the following: Vegetables, Root crops such as carrots, sweet potatoes and cassava, Grains such as maize, wheat, barley and sorghum, Hay and Protein supplements e.g. soybean meal, peanut meal.You can also feed your rabbits on commercially pelleted feed available from different manufacturers. When using commercial pellets, care should be taken to avoid aflatoxin contaminationReduce the amount of feed for the doe to one-half on the day of kindling and gradually but increased gradually from the 3rd day to the 7th day.After a week, the nursing doe and its litter should be provided with food at all times. Salt can be provided either by mixing into the feed at one percent or in the form of commercial salt cakes. Vitamins: vitamin A is available from root crops and hay, vitamin B in greens and roughage. Rabbits also get their vitamins from re-ingesting their droppings

When using pellets, ensure they are fresh and not contaminated. It is advised that you feed up to 130g of pellets for adult rabbits per day in combination with other feeds. It is however important that amount of pellets is kept low to reduce cost of production

Ensure that from the time of weaning, your rabbits are supplied with at least a handful of hay per day for to help rabbits digest better. When feeding greens, allow them to wilt before feeding. At the time of weaning, introduce wilted greens a little at a time to avoid diarrhea. Rabbits produce soft and hard droppings. They re-ingest soft droppings which are rich in the B vitamins

Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Coccidiosis Diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration Use coccidiostats in feed and drinking water
Ear canker Constant head shaking. Scratching of ears due to irritation.
Internal parasites e.g. ascaris Avoid rats in rabbitary since are the vectors of these mites.
 Equipments  
Housing Rabbit Housing Requirements:The house must protect the rabbits and keep them from escapingThe house must protect the rabbits from predatorsThe house must protect the rabbits from adverse weather

The house should allow easy, comfortable access for the manager

The house must be self cleaning or easy to clean

The house should be of reasonable cost, easy to maintain and be durable.

Ideally, rabbits should be kept in cages either outdoor with extended roofs or indoor where the cages are kept inside buildings on platforms.

A rabbit unit should be well ventilated, rain-proof and allows some sunlight

Standard cages for rabbits should measure: L=80cm, W=60cm, H=45cm.for pregnant does or does with young kits, a provision for a nesting box of 30cm by 30cm.Usually weld mesh wire is preferred because of ease in maintaining cleanliness.

 Regions Central Kenya, Western Kenya.

PROCESSING

Processing Processing is done in the interest of processing and value addition, coming up with rabbit products that meet the true needs of the target market.

MARKETING

Place Rabbit meat is locally consumed at home and hotels. It’s a delicacy in the hospitality industry.
Price Sausage cost ksh 450@pack, pelts at ksh300 per piece, mature rabbit cost ksh.1000, rabbit meat at ksh450 per kg

CONSUMPTION

Products / Uses Meat, pelts and sausages.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Total Fat  8g 12%,Saturated Fat 2g 12%, Cholesterol  82mg 27%, Sodium47mg  1%, Total Carbohydrates 0g  0%, DietaryFibre  0g, Protein 29g 58%, Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 0%, Iron 12%.

FACTS & FIGURES

A rabbits teeth never stop growing.The American Rabbit Breeders Association has 45 recognized breeds of rabbits.A pet rabbit can live as long as 10 years.The largest number of kits every born in a litter is 24.

A rabbit has five toenails on its front two paws and four toenails on its back two feet. =18 toenails per rabbit

The longest rabbit ears ever recorded measured up to be 31.125 inches long!
The world’s heaviest rabbit is Darius, weighing an unprecedented 50 pounds!
The current world record for a rabbit long jump is 3 meters
The current world record for the rabbit high jump is 1 meter
Rabbits only sweat on the pads of their feet

BUSINESS CASE

 

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