You need to start a profitable Rabbit Farming Business to boost your income. Firstly, what are domestic rabbits? Domestic rabbits are very cheap to raise as a domestic animal and. as a pet. They are also highly profitable. Some people find it difficult to slaughter rabbits for consumption because they considered them as pets rather than meat animals. But let me tell you one fact: rabbit meat is the best meat after poultry meat.
Breeds of Rabbit
There are numerous breeds of rabbit but I will only mention a few. Below are common breeds of rabbits:
1. California Breed
It weighs between 3.6-50kg. It has white coat colour with coloured feet, nose, ears, and tail.
2. New Zealand White Breed
It weighs between 4.1-5.4kg. It has either white, black, or red coat colour.
3. American Chinchilla Breed
It weighs between 4.1-5.4kg. Its surface fur is greyish, under fur deep-blue grey, and belly is white.
4. Champagne d’ argent Breed
It has a weight that ranges between 4.1-5.4kg. The underfur is dark slate blue, while the surface fur is blue-white or silver.
5. Flemish Giant Breed
This breed weighs between 5.9-7.3kg. Its coat colour is either gray sandy, white or blue.
How to handle rabbits correctly
Handling rabbits correctly is very important because rough handling can be a source of stress to rabbits (they are not as rugged as other animals like pigs, cattle, or goats). The skeleton of rabbits is not strong. Their backbone can be easily damaged, hence, care should be taken seriously when handling these set of animals.
One thing is that a rabbit should on any condition lifted by their ears because it is usually painful to them. There are two ways rabbits can be handled. These are:
1. By the scruff
The rabbit handler must have short fingernails to prevent injuring the animal. The rabbit should be lifted by the skin behind the ears (the scruff). The rabbit is then held and supported by placing the order hand under its hindquarters. Never hold the back legs as this action may cause the animal to struggle and kick or injure you with its sharp claws.
2. By the pelvis
This method is used to handle young rabbits (kits) only. The young rabbits being transferred quickly from the hutch to the basket may be lifted by the pelvis or the skin on their back.
Feeding of Rabbits
You can raise your rabbits successfully on unlimited green food, roots and hays, but the addition of some grain cake foods is always advantageous. Rabbits will eat almost any type of green food gathered from hedges or roadside. As a precaution, however, you should thoroughly wash all green feeds in salt and water. You are doing this to remove dust, dung and insects and also to cleanse the feed from getting contaminated with other infectious substances. After washing, allow the green feed to dry for few hours before giving your animals to eat most especially the young rabbit.
The feeds that you can give rabbits are:
- Succulents: potato leaves, carrots, lettuces, cabbages. But only give lettuces and cabbages to adult rabbits alone.
- Hays: well-cured green legumes hays such as cowpeas, groundnuts, soybeans, stylo, etc. are palatable and they make rabbits grow well.
- Starches and grains: potatoes (must be boiled) and grains such as millets, guinea corn, maize, rice, etc. can be added to your animal’s ration mixtures.
- Supplements: groundnut cake (GNC), cottonseed cake, and soybean meal (SBM) are protein-rich supplements, and they are desirable for balancing grass hays and pelleted rations. The grains and cakes are better accepted when crushed, ground, or missed thoroughly.
Housing in Rabbit Farming
Housing needs for a rabbitry will depend on the available local materials, climatic condition, the size of the operation, and how much you are willing to invest.
The material used in construction would usually be those that are available at little or no cost (interwoven branches, split bamboo, mud, tin and plastic). The materials to be used should be strong enough and not easily destructible by dogs. It is necessary to erect fence sometimes.
The design of a typical general-purpose hutch is as follows:
- Approximately 1 meter above the ground
- The height of the hutch should be 60cm at the front, 50cm at the back
- The length should be 90-120cm while the width should be 50-60cm
The equipment necessary in the hutch are:
- Water trough (for taking water)
- Food trough
- Roughage rack
- Kindling box (used when rabbit gives birth)
Cleaning and disinfecting hutches
Cleaning and disinfection allow the rabbit keeper to attack the disease organisms before they attack the rabbits. Cleaning and disinfection of hutches should include the following:
- Scraping out all dirt and faeces
- Washing with hot soapy water
- Drying in the sun
- Washing with disinfectant solution
- Resting the hutches for two or three weeks before stocking or restocking with rabbits
Common health and disease problems associated with rabbit
- Internal parasites such as worm infestation, coccidial infection, etc. Deworm animals regularly and avoid giving animals mouldy feeds. Also, administer coccidiostat at an early age or anti-coccidial drugs.
- External parasites such as mites and lice infestation. Clean the hutches regularly.
- Bacterial infections such as Salmonellosis, Escherichia coli (E. coli) etc.
- Viral infections such as Myxomatosis (Big head disease), Rabbit Calicivirus disease (Viral haemorrhagic disease).
Since rabbit farming is cheap and easy to manage, why don’t you take a bold step and start one even if you are starting with few rabbits?