Rabbit farming has become a popular micro-livestock farming business just like livestock farming. Though it requires hard work and sufficiency of dedication, it has the potential to generate good primary income as well as additional income streams.
It is also quite profitable both for the farmers and young entrepreneurs as they can also start this venture as an agricultural business practice to make money.
In most parts of the world, rabbits are considered a pet and may not be deemed fits for slaughtering for its meat and because of this, it is most times considered as poultry other than livestock in such areas.
What is a rabbit farm?
Rabbit farming, in other words, called cuniculture involves the agricultural practice of raising domesticated rabbits as micro-livestock for their meat, wool and fur production.
The wood and fur production is very profitable and their meat is considered best after poultry birds as well.
An aspiring rabbit farmer should know that you need good quality breeds of this animal, house and good quality food. Following these steps will lead you to a successful rabbit farming business.
1. Select a Space For Your Rabbitry
One good thing about rabbitry is that it can be done at home if you have enough space to accommodate it, it does not require large acres of land even if you are going into commercial farming.
Rabbits can be raised by the free-range method but it is most preferable to keep them in a house or cage.
The majority of the rabbit breeders prefer an outdoor living quarter to allow them to experience fresh air as well as sunshine at all times but the atmosphere may not be conducive for them at times to stay outdoors.
Agricultural farmers who are experts in the field advise that it is necessary rabbits benefit more from being indoors than outdoors.
This is true because they are safer in the cages than been outdoors on the free-range methods where they can easily be trapped by predators like snakes, dogs, and pests which can harm them.
2. Get a Mentor
You need a rabbit mentor that will provide you with a guide and basic education to ensure that a successful farming process is guaranteed.
Lack of knowledge on this farming can cause incorrect handling of rabbit which can lead to their death or health challenge.
As one who has an interest in farming rabbits, you should know the whys and wherefores involved in it which you can get from an experienced farmer who has been into the business.
Before building your rabbit cages or buying breed stock, ensure that you already have a mentor so that you understand everything including how to feed.
A mentor is someone who has the knowledge of what you are about to step into and so you can always turn to him or her if you face any problem along the line.
You can easily find a mentor is by joining a rabbit club or employ a rabbit farmer to help you. By so doing, you can also get the best breeding stock of rabbits from breeders who belong to these clubs.
3. Know The Breeds of Rabbit
Rabbits have numerous breeds. Studies have shown that there are over 305 breeds of domesticated in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Some of the domestic rabbit breeds are European rabbit, grand chinchilla, lionhead rabbit, English Angora, mini lop, English lop, English Spot, jersey woolly, silver fox, New Zealand white, harlequin, beveran rabbits, a continental giant rabbit and lots more.
Study the breeds carefully and decide on what breed you are going for. It is always advisable to start with a particular rabbit breed and then add other ones later to avoid mismanagement.
Additionally, choosing the breed of rabbit you want to farm requires that you consider a pet rabbit.
You can use a large breed such as an English lop of silver fox you have enough room that accommodates a cage that is twice the length of the rabbit. If not, go for a smaller breed like lionhead.
4. Choose the Right cage size
You have to get a suitably sized cage for your rabbit because overcrowding can impose health risks on them and cause stress as well.
One thing about rabbits is that they need to stretch their bodies well after eating to get rid of gas traps formed in their intestine while eating and during the time while they are were at rest.
The actual stocking density of this animal depends on the type of housing available and the breed.
People normally ask this question “how many rabbits can be raised in a cage?
Putting two or more rabbits together in one cage requires a large conducive cage that can accommodate a proper space allocation per rabbit.
They can be raised in a cage that is good for sustenance farming or the deep litter method which is better for commercial farming as it will provide them with an opportunity to roam freely and also have access to grass which is their main source of food as well.
5. Feeding Of Rabbits
Feeding of rabbits is not that tasking and won’t cost you a lot. Since they are herbivores animals, the grass is okay for them though you can feed them also with rabbit pellets and supplement which can complement their daily diet.
Rabbits on premixed feed are said to get to slaughter stage earlier than those feeding on herbs and hay alone.
Premixed feed rabbit is due for slaughter between 10 to 14 weeks whereas the other can take up to 30 or 30 weeks to reach slaughter age.
Conversely, the fur of rabbits that feed on hay and vegetables will be mature and far better that of the ones that were feed on premixed ration.
Therefore, vegetables and scraps are preferred to be used in feeding the rabbits than pellets. Ensure that you have adequate quantity and quality hay available.
Avoid using certain foods such as avocados because they can be toxic to the health of the rabbits. Make proper research to see the list of foodstuffs that are dangerous to rabbits and the one that suits them best.
6. Rabbits Need Fresh Water Daily
We all know that every living creature needs water to earn survival and rabbits are not exempted. The feeding of the rabbit is not incomplete without freshwater.
Get clean plastic or metal bowl that will be used in putting water for these pets. You need to change the water your rabbits drink on a daily basis to avoid bacteria development.
Always bear in mind that rabbits get dehydrated easily. Supply them with neat water on a daily basis using the water container that works best for them.
7. Environmental Care
Keeping the environment clean as always is very necessary because there are common diseases and health conditions which affect rabbits easily.
Some of the diseases that attack rabbits are coccidial infection, infestation of mites and lice, other viral and bacterial infections. And they are easily attacked when the environment not clean or when they are feed with contaminated food.
Therefore, it is important to disinfect and wash their environment very well to keep it clean and dry always. A clean environment is a major tool for preventing diseases that attack rabbits.
8. Establish A Ready Market
Selling your rabbit is not something you have to worry about; all you need is to create a little awareness of whether you are supplying for the consumption of for trade.
You can supply also supply rabbits to pet stores where they can be sold as pets or establish a pet supply store where you sell them online or in-store and as well to individuals and others that may need it for either their meat or fur respectively.
Getting your target market-ready is very important even at the start not minding if the end product is fur, wool or meat.
Rabbit farming is very profitable and does not require much facility like poultry, which makes it a better choice if you are not financially stable.
Most importantly, they breed faster and mature earlier. Female rabbits can give birth to 5-9 kits per birth and just after a month of their gestation period, which means that they can give birth to as much as 40- 50 kits per year.
Another benefit of rabbit farming is that they need little space when compared to other animals providing the highest yield per area of their meat.
Taking the steps that are carefully prepared above will help you to achieve these benefits from a rabbit farming business.