RABBIT farming is not a new business in Nigeria, but lack of adequate support for rabbit farmers coupled with poor infrastructural provision seems to pose a threat to the once thriving and easiest animal farming business in the country.
Without doubt, people can make fortune from rabbit farming if adequate and necessary steps are considered, just as in other parts of Africa, where the value is still being appreciated. It has more than enough potential to make people financially buoyant.
According to history, rabbits are one of the earliest domesticated animals being reared and nurtured by man, because they are extremely useful. Aside other existing animal farming businesses, rabbit farming offers great opportunities for agricultural entrepreneurs, who desire to venture into the business.
A rabbit is easy to maintain and is also the choice meat of some homes and restaurants. The meat tastes sweeter than a mixture of chicken and bush meat.
One of the greatest benefits of rabbit farming over other animals is the low start-capital involved. In Nigeria, it doesn’t take much fund to start the business and the return is attractive, especially when it is managed and maintained appropriately. Also, one of the qualities of rabbit farming is the reproduction rate, as rabbits live in colonies (a male between three to five females); there is high tendency to fend for about 50 kits (baby rabbits) in a year if one starts with one or two colonies.
Above all, the potential and profitability of rabbit farming are enormous. Rabbits are not aggressive and require minimal handling. In addition, the followings are ways to make a headway in starting the business.
Availability of breeding materials
It is important that anyone, who is interested in investing in the business must acquire necessary materials at a very minimum cost. These materials include breeding cages, feeds, concentrates, etc, because all these are what are considered as the raw materials required for the business.
Acquiring knowledge about rabbit care
This is very important to avoid unnecessary loss due to diseases and high mortality. Get to know everything you can about rabbits, from their common diseases and ailments to their gestation period, feeding pattern, etc. You can get this information by doing a search online or visiting your local library and reading up about rabbits.
Proper planning of rabbit farming business
It is very important, especially when breeding rabbits on a commercial scale as every possible detail, including financial overhead and profit potential must be taken into account.
Decide on where to house your rabbits
It is necessary that a rabbit house be spacious, so as to give chance for the young ones and also the growth and expansion of the business. Rabbits can be kept in or in cages. The rabbit cage should be constructed in such a manner that the rabbits will be protected from rainfall and direct sunlight.
Feeding the rabbits
Rabbits feed on either feed or grasses, (elephant grass), potato, shrubs, leaves and herbs. They must be given food, at least, twice a day. Clean drinking water must be made available for them 24 hours a day. The containers should be cleaned regularly for the sake of the health of the rabbits. It is advisable to study their exact daily consumption of feed in order to avoid wastage.
Rabbits are prolific in nature and they do multiply rapidly. They begin breeding from four t0 five months of age. The gestation period for female rabbit (the doe) is 31 days and it normally gives birth to six -10 kits (baby rabbits) at once. Rabbits are capable of reproducing seven times in a year. For reproduction to take place, the buck and the doe should be kept in one place to mate. After that, you have to separate them. One female rabbit is capable of producing up to 50 kits in a year.
Factor in your overall expenses
Starting and running a rabbit breeding business is not all that’s expensive but, one still needs to do everything possible to minimise cost in such a way that it will not affect profits.
Marketing your rabbits
Start by creating awareness among individuals, beginning with families, friends and colleagues, restaurants, hotels, eateries etc. Tell them about the nutritional value of rabbits, as well as the economic importance.
However, it is advisable that you carry out more research on your own even before setting up a rabbit farm. You must know the market strategies and the level of demand, as this will help you to avoid unnecessary losses and regrets.