Rabbit Farming: The Basics

Updated: Nov 15, 2019



In recent years, there have been a steady increase in the demand for rabbits in Nigeria. Rabbit meat is a tasty dish with healthy benefits, (low cholesterol, vitamins and proteins) this confers an advantage when compared to other meat source.

Asides from the meat, its fur (skin) is also profitable, its fur can be used in the production of garments, clothing, hats and boots. Rabbit are also used in pharmaceuticals and medical cosmetic research laboratories, increasing the demand.

BENEFITS

Rabbit meat is very tasty, like chicken but way more delicious and has a lot of health benefits for its consumers. Here are some of the reasons for its growing demand

  • Contains the least amount of fat when compared to other meats sources (Beef, Poultry, Pork, Chevon)

  • Rabbits are quite clean and relatively odourless

  • Rabbits are noiseless and can be raised part-time

  • Rabbit carcasses are only 20% bone.

  • It is heart friendly because it contains almost no cholesterol

  • There is no known religious taboo or social stigma

  • Rabbit meat is a good source of vitamin B2, B3, B5 and B12

  • It also has a high protein level of about 20.8%

  • Very tasty meat

  • It’s a white meat

BREEDS

The most economic breeds of rabbit are New Zealand White, Californian and Chinchilla. They offer the most return on investment.

The New Zealand White


They are an excellent meat breed with a high feed to meat ratio with fine bones. White in colour, they weigh between 4 and 5kg when matured.

The Californian


It is a large breed, weighing between 3 to 4.5kg. It is white coloured with coloured patches on some part of the body like the ears, nose, feet and tail. It has identifiable large ears.


The Chinchilla

This is one of the best Rabbits for meat, can weigh between 3 to 5kg.

HOUSING

Rabbits are delicate animals and are to be protected by conducive housing. Rabbits should be housed in cages, hutches or in a house with proper ventilation, heating systems and adequate light.

Light is very important for rabbits, it is essential for breeding and growth. A 12-hour light and 12-hour darkness system should be used to keep them productive and breeding well

When using cages, metal cages are considered a sanitary option. They help to prevent diseases that stem from collection of droppings and food residue in the cages and they are easy to clean.

FEEDING

Rabbits are herbivores and will consume large quantities of forage (greens). Rabbit can thrive well feeding on forage (leaves) and concentrates or either of the both. They also require fibre in their diet. Rabbit feed should contain 12 to 18% protein and at least 8 percent crude fibre to support their growth. Commercial rabbit pellets that meet the nutrient requirements of rabbits in different stages of production are available in the market.

Fresh water is important in rabbit nutrition, water should be changed at feeding intervals.

BREEDING

A doe (female) and a buck (male) is enough to start up a subsistence rabbit farm with greater prospect of increase in the coming months when compared with other conventional farm animals. Rabbits with a gestation period (Pregnancy length) of 31 days, a suckling period of about 6 weeks and an average litter size (babies) of 4-8, which indicates that they can be bred (reproduce) 4 times a year and can produce an average of 15 kits (children) per year.

In a large set-up, a mature buck (male) can service 5-8 does, Ideally, bucks are to be used once a day and not more than 4 times per week to improve litter size. Bucks and does are housed separately. For mating purposes, the doe should always be taken to the buck’s cage and not vice versa.

MARKETING

Rabbits will reach market age at about 8 weeks of age or less (weighing 2 to 2.5kg). However, they can be allowed to reach their full size depending on the breed. Rabbits may be sold live or dressed, they can be sold to homes, hotels, restaurant and bars.

With a growing market for rabbit meat in Nigeria and no cultural and religious barrier regarding trade and consumption, rabbit production is a great business venture.

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