Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Rearing rabbits is a suitable meat producing agribusiness activity among the youth in Africa, for self employment and income generation. Rearing rabbits is increasingly becoming popular particularly among the youth and smallholder farmers as they require low capital investment, limited space and they multiply fast. In recent years there has been increased awareness of the advantages of rabbit meat production in Africa as a means to alleviate animal protein shortages and generate income, particularly in areas with high human population and limited agricultural land. Rabbits have enormous ability to utilize fibrous feed-stuffs which are unsuitable for humans.

Rabbit’s feeds include grass, weeds, garden waste, kitchen waste and concentrates like rabbit pellets. Moreover the carcasses of rabbit have very high meat to bone ratio in comparison with other meat producing livestock. Rabbit manure is high quality fertilizer, while utilization of rabbit skins to make hand bags, shoes and hats creates employment and generates more income. Rabbit market exists mainly in major hotels.
Californians white [which is white with black ears] and New Zealand white [which is entirely white with pink eyes] are the recommended pure rabbit breeds for meat production and upgrading of local African rabbits. These two breeds are fast growing and good meat producers as adult rabbits weighs between 4.5kgs and 5.5kgs.Flemish giant [which is grey to black] is a heavy late maturing rabbit breed weighing up to 6kgswhen fully grown. Local African rabbits are relatively small, usually white, hardy and well adapted to local conditions. Adults weigh about 2.5kgs and make good meat producers when crossed with Californians and New Zealand whites.

Before bringing in the breeding stock a rabbit hutch should be constructed to protect the rabbits from predators. The breeding male or buck must have his own hutch from 3 months of age for good development. Breeding does or females should also be separated from 4 months of age. One buck is enough for every ten does and it’s recommended that several rabbit keepers share one buck at the beginning. The doe can be mated for the 1st time at the age of 5-6 months. Rabbit gestation period is about 31 days or one month.
A good doe will kindle about four times a year giving about 6-7 kids each time. This makes a total of about 24 young ones per year for every breeding doe. The kids should be weaned at 5 weeks old and separated from the mother.
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