Rabbit farming is the commercial rearing of a single or different rabbit breeds primarily for sale, to be used as food and several other purposes.Rabbit farming is an agribusiness with a huge market, especially due to statistics showing that over 1 million tonnes of rabbit meat is consumed yearly around the world. This livestock farming business hasn’t just proven to be a great source of income to thousands of people worldwide, but has also been identified as a great source of food for parts of Africa, including Nigeria.
Rabbit farming business is one of the most profitable and lucrative business throughout the world. One can obtain decent profit with a proper rabbit farming business plan as meat consumption is increasing and rabbit meat is considered as healthy and nutritious. Commercial rabbit farming has different step to consider being successful in rabbit farming business.
WHY SHOULD WE CONSIDER RABBIT FARMING BUSINESS?
- Rabbit farming require less space and little investment compared to other livestock business and results in good profits
- Rabbit eat ordinary feed and convert them into protein – rich high – quality meat which is very economic
- Rabbit can also be reared for hide and fur
FACTS AND BENEFITS OF RABBIT FARMING
1). Rabbits grow very fast
2). There are little to no religious limitations on consuming rabbits
3). They’re cheaper to raise than other larger livestocks.
4). A rabbit can bear 2 to 8 kittens at a go.
5). Rabbits are a great substitute for poultry products
6). Lesser and cheaper labour can be employed to run a rabbit farm
7). Grasses, leaves, and some type of wastes can be great rabbit meals
8). Rabbit meats are highly nutritious, tasty, and easily digestible
SETTING UP YOUR RABBIT FARMING BUSINESS
1). Choose A Farming Method:
After deciding to start up a rabbit farming business, the first step is to determine what type of farm to run. Some factors to consider in choosing the housing type are the cost, access to light and fresh air, protection from the sun, and the spaciousness (usually 2 to 10 feet between rabbits) of the barn.
There are two primary types of rabbit farming methods and their mode of operations vary. They are:
a). Deep Litter Method:
This method is highly recommended if you intend to raise a few rabbits. Here, the litter husk is about 4 to 5 inches in depth with straw, hay and wood shavings. In this method, the floor should be concrete and the capacity would usually be about 25 to 35 rabbits.
While the chances of a disease outbreak in this system is high, the male rabbits should usually be kept in a separate compartment from the female rabbits, except for copulation purposes.
b). Cage Method:
The cage method is highly effective for a commercial rabbit farming business. Here, the rabbits are usually kept in cages that are made of wire because; this is a highly effective way to raise so many rabbits in an organized environment.
Each rabbit in this setting should have a space of about two feet wide, three feet long, and two feet high.
In summary, there must be enough room for the young rabbits to move around in.
No matter the size of the cage, it must be raised high enough to enable you rake out the manure a lot easier.
2). Care And Feeding:
Every rabbit has its own temperament level. Some are easy to take care of and others can be really difficult to deal with. To feed the rabbits, ensure they have a regular feed of their pellets together with a lot of water, at least three times daily. You can also put in lettuce or cabbage leafs in their pens once in a while for them to chew on.
Your rabbits should also be well fed at night because; rabbits are nocturnal animals and largely prefer to feed at night. So feeding them well in the evenings is very important.
If you intend to introduce a new type of meal to your rabbits, do it slowly, as it can upset their digestive system.
Basics of a Good Rabbit Diet
A rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality pellets, fresh hay (timothy or other grass hays), oat hay, water and fresh vegetables. Anything beyond that is a “treat” and should be given in limited quantities.
Pellets should be fresh, and should be relatively high in fiber (18% minimum fiber). Do not purchase more than 6 weeks worth of feed at a time, as it will become spoiled. Pellets should make up less of a rabbit’s diet as he or she grows older, and hay should be available 24 hours a day. Alfalfa pellets are fine for younger rabbits but timothy pellets are preferred for older rabbits.
When shopping for vegetables, look for a selection of different veggies–look for both dark leafy veggies and root vegetables, and try to get different colors. Stay away from beans and rhubarb. Introduce new veggies slowly.
Hay is essential to a rabbit’s good health, providing roughage which reduces the danger of hairballs and other blockages. Apple tree twigs also provide good roughage.
What quantities of food should I feed babies and “teenagers”?
- Birth to 3 weeks–mother’s milk
- 3 to 4 weeks–mother’s milk, nibbles of alfalfa and pellets
- 4 to 7 weeks–mother’s milk, access to alfalfa and pellets
- 7 weeks to 7 months–unlimited pellets, unlimited hay (plus see 12 weeks below)
- 12 weeks–introduce vegetables (one at a time, quantities under 1/2 oz.)
What quantities of food should I feed young adults? (7 months to 1 year)
- introduce timothy hay, grass hay, oat hay, and other hays; decrease alfalfa
- decrease pellets to 1/2 cup per 6 lbs. body weight
- increase daily vegetables gradually; make sure your rabbit can tolerate
- fruit daily ration no more than 1 oz. to 2 oz. per 6 lbs. body weight (because of calories)
What quantities of food should I feed mature adults? (1 to 5 years)
- Unlimited timothy, grass hay, oat hay, other hays including brome, Bermuda, etc.
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup pellets per 6 lbs. body weight (depending on metabolism and/or proportionate to veggies)
- Minimum 2 cups chopped vegetables per 6 lbs. body weight; always introduce vegetables and greens slowly to make sure your rabbit can tolerate
- fruit daily ration no more than 2 oz. (2 TBL) per 6 lbs. body weight.
What quantities of food should I feed senior rabbits? (Over 6 years)
- If sufficient weight is maintained, continue adult diet
- Frail, older rabbits may need unrestricted pellets to keep weight up. Alfalfa can be given to underweight rabbits, only if calcium levels are normal. Annual blood workups are highly recommended for geriatric rabbits.
3). Breeding Stock:
At six months old, a female rabbit is ready to be bred. Then, she can be put in the buck’s pen for reproduction. The bucks should never be left in the female’s pen. Put them together to mate for a period of at least 15 minutes.
Ensure you record the date of the mating. Note the buck that was used and which female rabbit it mated with. The male rabbit shouldn’t ideally be used for reproduction more than once in four days.
Any female rabbit that is rebred after her offsprings her weaned, will produce about four litters in a year. If you’re running a commercial rabbit farming business, you can schedule the mating of the rabbits every two to three weeks, but if they aren’t necessarily for commercial purposes, the mating can be scheduled every six weeks.
By the time a female rabbit has reproduced for a period of about 5 years, she should be replaced with a much younger doe, but if after mating, she only produces about two or three kids in two breedings straight, the rabbit should be sold off, to afford wasting rabbit feed on poor reproductive animals.
To effectively sell your rabbits, you’d have to create your own market. You can start by marketing your rabbits online ,selling to restaurants and bars that prepare rabbit meat, and most especially contacting international clients that need a steady supply of rabbits exported to them in whatever country they’re in.
Challenges of Rabbit Farming
The challenges of rabbit farming mostly ranges between these listed below:
1). Inadequate supply of a sort-after rabbit breed.
2) Poor marketing.
3). Pests and diseases.
4). Unproductive rabbit stock.
5). Low quality feed from local suppliers.
6). Lack of experience.
7). Production constraints
8). Poor construction of rabbit hutches
Rabbit farming is one lucrative livestock farming business that could be executed largely for exportation purposes in many places around the world, especially Europe. If you plan to start up a rabbit farming business, this guide can form the foundation of your understanding as you proceed.