Rabbit Farming in Nigeria is one of the aspects of a successful agricultural business that you can venture into. For entrepreneurs who are interested in animal husbandry or livestock farming, commercial rabbit farming can prove to be very profitable.
Just like poultry farming in Nigeria, to start a rabbit farming business, you do not require an extensive capital investment, and the turnover period is short. This makes the rabbit business an ideal business for you to start.
Here are quick questions that this article will provide answers to:
- How do you make a rabbit farm?
Did you know that rabbit meat is getting more popular, and thus, rabbit breeding is becoming one of the top lucrative business ideas in Nigeria?
Over one million tons of rabbit meat is consumed every year. That`s a great source of income in Africa and especially in Nigeria.
Moreover, rabbits can be used not only as meat, but a great source of fur, and you can even raise them to be home pets.
What Is Rabbit Farming In Nigeria?
Rabbit farming is a commercial rearing of rabbits, primarily for sales purposes.
You can breed them to sell their meat or fur. This type of animal farming does not involve many expenses in the production of rabbits.
Moreover, the nature of rabbits and their breeding preferences is certainly a great source of help for you.
This article will help you to be more familiar with the animal and its breeding processes.
Listed below are terminologies of rabbits from Wikipedia:
- Male rabbits are called Bucks
- Female rabbits are called Does.
- An older term for an adult rabbit is Coney (derived ultimately from the Latin Cuniculus), while rabbit once referred only to the young animals.
- Another term for a young rabbit is bunny, though this term is often applied informally (particularly by children) to rabbits generally, especially domestic ones. More recently, the term kit or kitten has been used to refer to a young rabbit.
- A group of rabbits is known as a colony or nest (or, occasionally, a warren, though this more commonly refers to where the rabbits live).
- A group of baby rabbits produced from a single mating is referred to as a litter
- A group of domestic rabbits living together is sometimes called a herd.
Before I discuss the process and reasons you should set up a rabbit farm, it is important to note that there are some risks associated with the animal.
Knowing them will help you during the course of establishing the farm
Risks of Starting a Rabbit Farm
Rabbits can be eaten or killed by almost any other animal. Therefore, insects, soldier ants, and snakes can easily destroy rabbit breeds.
Infections can easily destroy your rabbit farming business.
Therefore, watch carefully after any occurrence of diseases and always be at alert to any form of infection and take necessary action against them as soon as you can.
Now, let me shed more light on the reasons for and benefits of rabbit farming.
Why You Should Start a Rabbit Farming Business
There are several reasons why you might consider starting a rabbit farming business in Nigeria. Below are a few:
- Rabbit rearing is popular amongst Nigerians and the whole Africa.
- You can rear rabbits not only for meat but their fur can also be sold.
- Rabbits can take care of themselves if you create nice cages for them – you can still have your regular job if you wish.
- Some people find rabbits amusing so a few rabbits can be kept as pets.
- Rabbits are cheaper to raise than any other livestock and can be a great substitute for poultry products.
- Rabbits can grow very fast
- High multiplication rate. Rabbits can multiply very rapidly.
- You can employ cheap labor to look after your rabbits’ farms.
Meat or Fur?
You can either rear rabbits for meat, the fur or both.
There are many health benefits of eating rabbit meat as will be discussed later.
Products that can be gotten from rabbits include high-quality skins which can be used to make fur production in making materials such as garments, clothing, hats, and boot.
If you noticed either the meat or the fur has high demand in your area, then you can focus more on that and that will inform you of the types of breeds you should have more.
Meanwhile, you can reach out to users of the other product so that everything coming off your rabbit is turned into money
Know Your Rabbit Breeds
There are several breeds of rabbits, and some are better suited for commercial farming than others.
This is simply because these ones grow into large sizes and produce faster.
It is necessary to choose the right rabbit breed for your business. The following are the most popular breeds.
English Spot: It is a medium-size rabbit that reaches an average body weight of 3 kg. This breed is very friendly, and its appearance makes it easy to sell as pets.
Flemish Giant: It is a gigantic breed of rabbits. It can reach up to 7 kg in maturity. Still, they require much grooming due to their dense undercoat and smooth coat.
They can be referred to as friendly giants. Their coats may be a good source of income for you.
English Lop: These rabbits reach weight up to 5 kg. Do not forget about grooming their coat.
Dwarf Lop: The dwarf is a small and medium-sized rabbit that reaches a max weight of 2.5 kg. Their coat is very soft and dense. It requires grooming up to 3 times per day.
English Angora: It is medium-sized rabbits that reach their weight of 3 kg when mature. They have very long and thick fur that requires constant grooming. They are good-natured and sociable rabbits.
Dutch Rabbits: They can vary from small to medium-sized and can reach the weight up to 2.5 kg. They are easy-going. Their fur requires daily grooming.
Chinchilla: These rabbits can also vary from small to medium-sized.
When they reach adulthood, they can vary from 2 to 2.5 kg.
British Giant: It is another large rabbit that can be a fantastic source of fur and meat. It reaches up to 7 kg at adulthood. Their coat is smooth and medium length, which requires constant grooming.
New Zealand White: It is a fully white rabbit that reaches a lifetime maturity weight of 5 kg.
Rabbit Breeding Process
When a female rabbit reaches six months old, she can breed other rabbits.
Therefore, you can place her in a buck`s cage. Note, that buck`s shouldn`t be left in a female`s cage for so long.
Put them together and give them time for at least fifteen minutes to copulate.
Do not forget to note the date of copulating with the buck and doe that were used for copulating.
Bucks can be used for reproduction at least once in four days. Female rabbits can produce up to four litters in a year with up to 10 kits or more in a litter.
Closely related to rabbit farming is grasscutter farming when it comes to reproduction. Grasscutters also give birth to a high number of babies.
Rabbits have the innate capacity to grow very rapidly and are known to attain maturity and market size in 6 months or less.
One reason for this fast growth rate being that rabbits are efficient converters of the food they eat.
Rabbits also breed throughout the year and it takes just between thirty and thirty-five days for a pregnant female rabbit to give birth to its kits.
Unlike goat farming where the birth rate is low, rabbits give birth to as high as seven to eight kittens.
If a doe has reproduced for five years, she can be replaced with a much younger doe. If she produces no more than two to three rabbits, then it`s time to sell her.
Now that you know the different breeds that can be used for rabbit farming and the breeding process, it is necessary to note that there are two popular methods of rabbit farming you can choose from.
They are cage method and deep litter method. There are some factors that should be considered while choosing your method.
Factors such as protection from the sun, running cost, security, access to light and space.
Cage Method: This method is a very effective method to consider if you want to set up a rabbit farm for commercial purposes.
It is recommended that the spaces in the cages be enough for the rabbits to move freely around.
It has proved to be effective as it provides a well-organized environment.
Deep Litter Method: In case you will like to start small or rear few rabbits, then you might consider using this method.
However, this method of breeding has its own disadvantages as it bears a high risk of disease outbreak and insecurity.
Do not hesitate to identify ill rabbits quickly and quarantined them. The infection diseases spread momentarily within rabbits.
Also, keep Does and Bucks apart from each other. They should be together only for copulating purposes.
Rabbit Production Facilities and Materials
Rabbit Cages: Remember that rabbits have many enemies, therefore their cages should be constructed in such a way they will be well protected and it will be difficult to be penetrated by the intruders.
When you establish rabbit cages, you should note that they must be adequate in sizes with the required space needed to play around.
You can start your business in the backyard if you have good space management skills.
Create the cage in such a way that the living area will not be too hot or too cold.
Rabbit Feeds: You want your rabbits to stay healthy;
You need to feed them with good hay which is essential to a rabbit’s good health, providing roughage that reduces the danger of hairballs and other blockages.
You can choose from a large variety of grass for your choice, like elephant grass or Napier grass.
You can also feed them with potatoes, cabbages, and lettuce. You should feed them in the morning and evening.
If you want to introduce a new type of food, then you should do it slowly. They can`t adapt swiftly to a new type of food.
Access to Clean Water: Don’t trade clean water for anything else.
Get adequate water containers where your rabbits can drink clean and sufficient water.
Knowledge: A popular saying goes thus: Knowledge is power, so you will need every bit of information you can gather.
Do not hesitate to learn from others in the field, learn new methods of creating feeds that will fit your needs.
Also, get more information on the care of a rabbit, their common diseases and ailments.
Learn more about how to market your rabbit, attend seminars where rabbit farming will be presented.
Rabbit feeders and drinkers: For their food and for drinking water.
One beautiful aspect of rabbit farming in Nigeria is that you can start small and expand the business as time passes by.
However, you can equally start on a large scale with little capital.
If you intend to start small, then you can start with four healthy rabbits or less depending on the money and space available.
The ratio could be 2 males to 2 females or 1:3 as one male can be used to copulate the three females.
It is advisable that the kits be at least 8 weeks old or older when bought. This will improve the kits’ chances of survival, and lower mortality rate.
For small scale farmers or entrepreneurs, rabbit farming is an ideal business because of its initial low cost and high multiplication rate.
With 2 or 3 female rabbits you can have 80 or 120 rabbits respectively at the end of a year.
Marketing Your Rabbits
Poor marketing is the main drawback of rabbit farming in Nigeria.
Therefore, you may need to put much effort into marketing your products either meat or fur.
Rabbit farming is not a new thing in Nigeria however you still need to educate people on what can be done with rabbits and the benefits of rabbit meat.
It may come as a surprise to you that some do not even know that rabbit meat is edible.
The marketing process can begin by creating awareness among individuals such as families, friends, and colleagues.
You can take a step further by contacting establishments such as restaurants, hotels, eateries, online shopping sites and supermarkets that can purchase rabbit meat in large quantities.
Social Media boosting farmers’ market can also be applied to rabbit selling.
The key however as earlier mentioned is education. Educate your potential clients about the nutritional value of rabbits as well as economic importance.
The following are some of the nutritional values of consuming rabbit meat that you can use to form your market strategy plan:
Health-conscious persons are moving from the consumption of red meats such as beef and pork to the consumption of white meats, rabbits included.
This is simply because there is an increased awareness of the harmful effects of cholesterol, which is usually high in red meats, and low in white meat
- It is said to have the highest protein content of all meat, and the highest level of unsaturated fatty acids.
- It also has a lower fat content than turkey does, as well as beef and pork.
- It is especially recommended during the hot months as it does not contain the healing properties of other meats.
- It is tested and certified suitable for special diets such as diets for people living and dealing with diabetes and/or hypertension.
Also, locate other end-users of rabbit products such as fur industries and establish a business relationship with them.
You can even trade internationally. Denmark is the leading fur-producing country. Other major producers include China, the Netherlands, Russia, and the US.
Check out this sample rabbit farming business plan template.
Summary Notes About Rabbit Farming In Nigeria
It is interesting to note that the main breed in the rabbit fur farming industry is the Rex (Castor Rex and Chinchilla Rex).
You can make research on how to harvest rabbit fur and venture into the business.
With the rate at which rabbits multiply and the low initial startup capital with a high return of investment, I am sure you are thinking of starting rabbit farming right away.
That decision is the right one, one you will never regret making.
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