Robert is an Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management
Rabbits are easy to keep animals which are kept for multiple uses which, among others, include for meat purposes, laboratory uses, pert purposes, manure for home garden or farm uses. Most people prefer rabbit meat due to it's meat special characteristics of being low in fat as a lot of people do not like fatty foods, and it is also rich in proteins. Rabbit farming can be raised on a small scale with an idea of keeping them only for meat purposes or can be kept for commercial purposes, thus being raised for sale as part of agribusiness or could be kept for both. The animal is preferred to be kept due to it's easy to keep which enables a person to keep them on his/her backyards. Only basic understanding of rabbit farming is needed to start rabbitry. The information presented in this article provides basic knowledge to run a rabbitry.
Common Production Systems Rabbits
Three production systems are commonly used as follows:
- Small scale rabbitry kept at home or backyard as the first system of production. Under this system of production, one or two males are kept in a rabbit house together with a few females so that they can breed. Usually this does not necessarily fall on commercial production as most of the rabbits kept under this system are for home meat.
- Rabbit Kept for meat as well as business on medium scale or commercial production. Under this rabbits are kept for meat as well as for sale to generate revenues and at least 15 to 40 breeds may be kept. These rabbits may be given leafy vegetables as part of feeding.
- Large scale rabbits farming for commercial purposes.This requires more capital and technical know how in managing the rabbits. It as well needs readily available markets and it's common in European countries.
Reasons for venturing in rabbit business
- Rabbit keeping is very easy to start as amount of space required is not the same as those one would need in cattle farming. Thus small or medium space is enough to kick start the business.
- Feeding rabbits is not a thing to worry about as they are able to eat even leafy vegetables
- The rabbit meat is rich in proteins which is advantageous.
- They can be taken as agribusiness farming.
Environmental Requirements for Rabbits Production
Now the big question is what are the requirements needed for rabbits as well as environmental conditions? The following are the conditions necessary for rabbits keeping:
- Temperature. Rabbits favours a temperature range of 10 - 27 °C. Whenever Temperature raises above 28 °C it affects the feeding and it as well increases water consumption.
- Lighting requirements. Rabbits require 8hours of light for males and about 16 hours for females for easily mating and increased fertility . Provide 2 hours extra light for growing rabbits as they are young and needs enough warmth.
Key points to take note
- Provide a good house for rabbits to protect themselves from predators and bad weather conditions.
- Housing premises should provide adequate shade of trees & peaceful environment free of strong winds.
- The Rabbit house should as well contain nesting boxes for females to use to raise their babies.
- Make sure the house is disinfected and kept clean all the times.
- Rabbits may be given leafy vegetables i.e cabbages , carrots, green maize leafs and does not require much spending.
- When feeding rabbits with leafy vegetables make sure that it's free from chemicals which might be sprayed on the leaves like cabbages as this could kill the animal resulting in losses.
Classification for rabbit feeds
Feeds for Rabbits are categorized into roughage, concentrates, greens which includes leafy vegetables and pellets which are classified as compounds.
Make sure adults are given around 150 to 500 mls of water per day while lactating does are given 1000 - 2000 mls as they needs more water.
Which rabbits to choose for breeding?
- When choosing the breeds to keep make sure you focus much on healthy thus keep strong ones for breeding.
- Where possible avoid buying old rabbits for breedings as it might be that their productivities have reached to an end as well as their life span hence of no use.
- Where possible try to check the breeding records as those with good past performances could as well perform better.
- It only take 4 to 6 months for female rabbits to reach fertility or breeding stage while for males it only take 5 to 6 months to be used for breeding.
- Mostly the female rabbits becomes more productive in springtime and summer as well early autumn.
- Females rabbits are able to keep pregnancy for one month and gives birth.
What do you have to do when the doe is pregnant?
- Pregnant doe should be kept separately in breeding cage to adopt new housing for kindling.
- The doe holding pregnancy should not be kept in a breeding cage but rather in a new kindling house.
- On 5 to 6 days to kindling, the pregnant doe pulls some furs from its rump around its tits.
- Make sure you give pregnant does enough feeds 10 to 15 days before giving birth.
- Mostly kindling happens during night.
- During the day of kindling the doe is seen restless.
How do you keep young rabbits?
- Make sure young rabbits (bunnies ) milks it's mother only for 2 to 3 weeks.
- From day 15 to 20 introduce leafy feeds to young rabbits.
- Does requires around 4 to 5 liters of water each day during this period.
- On an average doe and her litter may drink about 4 to 5 litres of water/day.
Cannibalism is when a doe eats her young rabbits. You must make sure that this does not happen. Keep on watch.
Reasons why this happens
- Water shortages at a time before kindling.
- Inappropriate beddings.
- And some disturbances during kindling.
- Young rabbits are weaned at the age of 30 to 35 days.
- Young females and males weaned should not be kept on the same cage.
- Young rabbits can be eaten and sold at the age of 3 to 4 months.
How to Prevents Diseases from Starting
well, make sure you observe all sanitation preventive measures.
Preventives measures for diseases in rabbit production
- Make sure the rabbits you buy to keep are healthy and are bought from a good breeders.
- Keep the newly bought rabbits in quarantine.
- Make sure that the house which is constructed to keep the rabbit is of high quality and has enough space required for rabbits and is able to protect the rabbits from predators.
- Observe sanitation practices as well as hygiene to decrease chances for disease outbreak.
- Follow Immunization and all medication programme available in your local countries. Where possible seek guidance from expertise.