Rabbit farming in Kenya: Advantages & Constraints
Rabbit farming in Kenya is done with techniques adapted to specific environments can do much to improve the family diet of many of the neediest rural families, at the same time supplying a regular source of income.
Small-animal husbandry can be a very lucrative operation for both landed and landless small farmers; providing work for women, children and the handicapped (the least privileged social strata), producing substantial income and helping to upgrade the family diet. Many small domesticated species like guinea-pigs meet these objectives, but rabbit farming is far more prevalent, particularly in Africa. Certain traditional rabbit production systems particularly adapted to hot, dry, semi-arid countries have been successfully developed.
There are some common diseases and problems seen in rabbits that can be prevented by ensuring you have an understanding of what a healthy rabbit requires and the subtle signs that can tell you your rabbit is unwell. Rabbits are wonderful domesticated pets and for commercial business, but it should be remembered that they are very closely related to wild rabbits, and as such will hide signs of illness until they are very unwell, as this would make them “easy prey” in nature.
We encourage close observations of your rabbit, a correct diet, up to date vaccinations and regular health checks to ensure you pick up the early signs of problems, and prevent diseases developing.
Advantages of rabbit farming in Kenya
Backyard rabbit farming are particularly well suited to small farmers, whether they own land or not. The advantages are closely related to the reproductive and feeding behaviour of rabbits and the fact that the species is both profitable and easy to integrate:
- as a small monogastric herbivore, the rabbit easily accommodates a fairly wide range of cellulose-rich foods;
- it is adaptable to the family diet and food preservation techniques available on small rural and peri-urban farms;
- it is highly productive in terms of offspring (kg /year dam) thanks Low mating-induced ovulation, short gestation and lactation periods and great prolificacy;
- it produces highly nutritious, low-fat, low-cholesterol meat;
- it is easy to transport and market and the recurrent costs for maintaining animals beyond the optimum marketing age are low;
- labour costs are low and the work can be done by family members: women and children, or perhaps aged or handicapped people, usually the most vulnerable and least privileged social strata, for whom rabbit husbandry like that of other small animals, represents an attractive and remunerative occupation;
- it represents a contribution to the family income; investment is low: infrastructure and equipment can easily be put together by the breeder and not much space is needed.
Constraints affecting rabbit farming in Kenya
- social, cultural and economic factors: customer acceptance of rabbit meat and ease of marketing;
- a lack of local resources available for balanced, low-cost, locally adapted rations;
- the existence of rabbit housing and management styles that inhibit the range of rabbit territorial, social, sexual, material and feeding behaviours;
- the presence of diseases representing a set of syndromes, rather than specific pathologies: if so, the appropriate approach would be an ecopathological one;
- breeder training: breeders may be unfamiliar with this species, which has very different behavioural characteristics from other domesticated species
Understanding Rabbit Farming In Kenya
Rabbit Housing Requirements:
- The house must protect the rabbits and keep them from escaping, predators and adverse weather.
- The house should allow easy, comfortable access for the manager
- The house must be self cleaning or easy to clean
- The house should be of reasonable cost, easy to maintain and be durable.
- Ideally, rabbits should be kept in cages either outdoor with extended roofs or indoor where the cages are kept inside buildings on platforms.
- A rabbit unit should be well ventilated, rain-proof and allows some sunlight
- Standard cages for rabbits should measure: L=80cm, W=60cm, H=45cm.
- For pregnant does or does with young kits, a provision for a nesting box of 30cm by 30cm.
- Usually weld mesh wire is preferred because of ease in maintaining cleanliness.
- Many farmers have thus resorted to using all-wooden cages or wooden plus weld mesh wire cages.
- Multi-tier cages are becoming popular because they save on space. More than two-tier cages are however not recommended because of difficulties in management.
- Always grasp the ears and the skin close to the head with one hand while the
other hand takes the full weight of the rabbit at the hips.
- For young rabbits up to about 3-4 months old, a suitable method is to grasp the
animal across the loins.
A part from the sex organs, physically the buck is usually smaller than the doe and often has a broader head. In the buck, a protruding sex organ appears as a rounded tip, while in the doe the organ is slit-like or v-shaped, and will slope slightly downwards towards the anus. When the bucks are mature the penis and testicles are easily observed.
It is important to properly identify your rabbits in order to help you keep records about them. The most common ways of identification for rabbits include tattooing and ear notching. Tattooing is the most relevant in rabbits due to their high turnover. For exhibition purposes rings with official marks are used.
There are three (3) breeds of rabbits kept in Kenya; New Zealand white, California
White and Chinchilla. Chinchilla, which is a grey/brown breed, is preferred as it has a
larger mature wait
Diseases affecting rabbit farming in Kenya
Download diseases affecting rabbit farming in Kenya and solutions here
See rabbit farming business plan here
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