Rabbit, grass cutter farming: Providing income and nutrition
More than before, there is the need for all to get involved in farming, either on the large scale or household level, so that animals and birds are bred for food, and to possibly make extra income. Some people are already keying into this idea, as they have started farming animals such as rabbits and grass cutters at their backyards, as a means of generating extra income and providing meat for households and the hospitality sector.
These animals, which are sometimes roasted, are sold as delicacies to people in the cities. Aside this, some people believe that grass cutter and rabbit meat is more delicious and healthier than other red meat, including poultry products.
Ibrahim Adolo, who has been into rabbit farming for close to a decade, said the business is lucrative and stress-free. Explaining how he started, he said: “it all began in my backyard, and I have no cause to regret my decision, as rabbit meat is in high demand. Some people prefer it to cow meat.”
Adolo said one of the advantages of breeding rabbit is its ability to greatly multiply within a short period, which rakes in good money. Disclosing that the business is quite rewarding, he said he never knew that keeping the animals could pay his bills and swell his bank account, when he first went into it. He said: “Rabbits have 30 to 31-day gestation period. They grow fast and are ready for slaughter after three months. They are easy to house and cheap to feed.
If properly taken care of, one male rabbit (buck) and two females (does) could produce more than 50 rabbits in a year, which means constantly having rabbit to sell throughout the year. The female starts breeding from five to six months and could continue to have kittens for four years. With this, they bring in good and steady income.”
According to Adolo, a rabbit can produce six times in a year, having two to 12 kittens at once, which can be sold after 100 days, as they grow fast. “I make between N80, 000 to N100, 000 a month selling rabbits. I supply hotels and restaurants that need assorted meat or bush meat. The business is good and one can never complain of shortage of animals to sell,” he said.
Could the same be said for grass cutters? Funsho Orukotan responded in the affirmative, stressing that grass cutters are easy to maintain and one does not need to spend much on their food, because they feed only on grasses and fruits.
“Keeping grass cutter is a profitable venture,” he said. “It brings quick income and the business does not require much hassles, because the animals can feed on common grasses such as elephant grass and other grasses that grow around the neighbourhood.” So, what would it take a new entrepreneur to start rabbit breeding?
Saliu Waheed said it all depends on what one wants and how big one wants to start. According to him, it is always good to start small and then grow with the business. It is also necessary to learn from one’s mistakes and weaknesses to determine whether to continue or close shop. He said with between N50, 000 and N100, 000, it is possible to start the business with two to three males and six to eight females.
“There is need to construct a cage of about 10 x 4ft for a unit of rabbits, which is capable of housing six to eight females and three males,” he explained. “Then, you partition the cage into three cabins to give room for different ages, sizes and breeding stages. Regularly feed them with grasses, vegetables, fruits and water to enable them grow. Before you know it, there will be so many rabbits you won’t believe it.
“The business is not so capital-intensive expensive. When starting, all one needs do is to keep the cage neat, well ventilated and regularly check on the animals so that the stronger ones do not injure or kill the weaker ones. Medium-sized rabbits breed at four to five months and give birth after a month of gestation. However, based on management and the number of rabbits, a farmer could make up to one million Naira in a year.
“Depending on the number and personality of the buyer, I sell a medium-size rabbit that weighs between 3.5 and 4 kilogrammes for between N2, 500 and N5, 000. Just imagine when 10 of these are sold in a day or week. This is the type of money farmers in this business sometimes make.”
Advising a starter to avoid indulging in old practices, Waheed said, “Traditionally, some people keep all their rabbits together. But it is advisable to keep the bucks separated from the does and not keep the bucks together, as they will be fighting themselves. The doe must be taken to the buck for mating and then returned to her place. A buck can be used until it’s seven years old. If you have a large number of rabbits, one buck should be used for every 15 does.”
For those going into grass cutters breeding, Nuru Bamidele advised there is need to keep the animals in a spacious cage of about 180cm length, 60cm breadth and 45cm high and to start with one male and four females.He explained that the animals need freedom to move around and are also selective, when it comes to space. According to him, the animals behave in a peculiar manner and need space to express themselves.
“Grass cutters are neat animals, and would not sleep in the room, where they ate or had droppings. So, it would be ideal for the keeper to understand this behavioral pattern and clean their cage everyday or once one notices that it is dirty. This will make the animals produce better. Apart from this, the cage should be such that protects the animals from extreme temperature and humidity,” he said.
Saying that grass cutters are easy to keep and cheap to maintain, he urged anyone going into the business to undergo some training, understand how the animals breed, the best atmosphere suitable for them, their habitat and the marketing processes.
He said: “Grass cutters are herbivorous animals, whose major food is elephant grass, sugar-cane and guinea grass. They also eat fruits, such as, half-ripe pawpaw, plantain, pineapple and mango. Food crops such as maize, rice, groundnut; grain like legume, tubers like cassava and sweet potato, also make part of their food. They can also be fed with formulated concentrates, such as pellet, as well as other processed by-products like wheat bran, corn bran and groundnut. This shows how handy or available their foods are.”
How To Excel In Rabbit, Grass Cutter Farming
• Keep the cages clean.
• Regularly check the animals, to know when they are not behaving or reacting normally.
• Keep the smaller ones separated from the bigger ones.
•Always keep away male rabbits from the female kitten.
• Separate breeding does (female) from the buck (male), to encourage higher productivity.
• Learn from those that have been in the business for useful experience.
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