There is a new wave in Kenya – that of rabbit keeping. Rabbit keeping in Kenya is encouraged by companies such as the Rabbit Republic that are ready to make contracts with Kenya for rabbit farming. Rabbit breeds vary, although they have one thing in common – they are easy to keep and they quickly reproduce such that the money you use in your start-up capital can be recovered within three months to six months depending on the breed you keep. Kenyans are not accustomed to eating rabbit meat despite the numerous nutritional benefits that come with rabbit meat. But this is all set to change given the intensive education on rabbits that is already underway. So how can you make cash from rabbit farming?
Do your research
As in any business you want to venture in, you need to do your research before embarking on rabbit farming. As noted before, rabbits come in different breeds and sizes. There are those that take up to six months to mature and those that take up to two months to mature. The California White matures quickly and reaches up to five kilograms in weight. Learn about rabbit habits so that you will be able to quickly notice if anything is amiss or if your rabbit is uncomfortable. Learn about diseases and what to do in case your rabbit becomes sick. Learn how to differentiate male and female rabbits and how to know if your rabbit is pregnant.
Rabbits reproduce at a first rate as their gestation period is just 30 days. This means that they can give birth up to ten times in a year. However, caution should be taken to allow your rabbits a period of rest in between giving birth. They can give birth to up to ten rabbits; therefore, a serious rabbit farmer has to prepare housing beforehand. Do not start with a large number of rabbits if you are new to the business. You can start with one male and one female and expand as they grow.
It is vital to build several cages for your rabbits so as to avoid inbreeding. Inbreeding causes production to go down. Each rabbit that gives birth should be kept in a cage with its children and once the children are of age, you need to separate them and find them their own cages so that they can start their own family. Remember to adhere to the space rules required for rabbits so as not to keep them in debilitating conditions.
While rabbits can be housed on the ground, it is prudent to keep them in raised cages that use wire mesh. This will enable you to easily keep the cages clean as the waste falls through the wire mesh. It is also advisable that you position the cages in such a way that you will be able to collect the urine as this can later be sold instead of going to waste.
Keep accurate records
Ensure that you keep accurate records of the rabbits in your care. Keeping records will enable you to notice any anomalies such as a rabbit that is not good at reproducing or a rabbit that has developed carnivorous habits or rabbits that are dwarfs in size. It will also enable you choose which rabbits should be kept to continue the line and which should be sold for meat. Keeping accurate records is very useful when it comes to breeding as you should be able to prepare a litter box for a rabbit that is about to give birth and you will also know when to do the breeding.
Rabbits enjoy eating dry grass and green vegetation that can be found easily in the environment. They also enjoy vegetables such as cabbages and can eat things like maize, banana and cassava peels and ugali. If you are planning on going large scale, you should plant grass and stock up on dry grass to provide nutrition in the dry season. Also try to experiment on various growing plants. Rabbits are usually very careful not to eat anything that can harm them so you will quickly be able to discern if your rabbits like a particular food or not. So basically, finding food for your rabbits should not be difficult. Ensure that you also give them water to drink as part of their diet.
Hygiene and prevention of disease
When you embark on rabbit farming, you should take the prevention of diseases seriously. Disease outbreaks can occur in a region, and this could cause havoc to your rabbit farming venture. However, if you develop a habit of disinfecting before handling rabbits, your rabbits will be free from disease. Do not allow anyone to enter the rabbit houses before disinfecting as this can lead to your rabbits becoming sick. You can put a container with the disinfectant just outside the door so that those who go in can quickly step on the disinfectant before entering.
Rabbits are kept for their meat, manure and fur. These are all products that are beneficial and can provide you with a regular source of income. Collect rabbit manure instead of letting things like urine go to waste. You can decide to sell the rabbits whole various businessmen (this is a good way for those who do not want to be involved with slaughtering). Hotels especially those frequented by Chinese would also be a good place to sell your rabbits as rabbit eating is nothing new to them.
Or, you can sell directly to customers or to butcheries. There are also many people who keep rabbits as pets that would benefit from your rabbits. With a mature rabbit going from shs2000-shs 2500, you can indeed reap a lot from rabbit farming. Schools are also a good place to sell your rabbits as most students look for activities to do in their school clubs, and rabbit keeping does not inconvenience them. So why not make rabbit farming provide you with a source of income?
Plan for expansion
This is a point that cannot be overemphasized. Rabbits breed at a fast rate. When you start with two rabbits, you can get up to 80 rabbits by the end of the year. And the next year would lead to more rabbits as the younger rabbits mature and give birth to their own rabbits. Many farmers utilize space wisely by stacking up cages. This ensures they use only a small amount of space for their rabbit farming business.
Use social media
Internet marketing is a tool that Kenyan farmers should not ignore. It is relatively cheap and it brings great results that will enable you to continue to benefit from your rabbit farming business. The future of rabbit farming is great in Kenya. When done well, rabbit farming has the potential to change livelihoods and employ many Kenyans. So let rabbit farming become a source of revenue for you. It is a fairly easy venture to pull off and its returns are awesome!