Rabbit farming is one of the fastest-growing micro-livestock projects in Kenya. Rabbit is fancied as a sustainable source of proteins in an era where climate change, population, and changing meat consumption models are rising in the developing countries. Furthermore, rising per capita income, growing urbanization, and discovering globalization are boosting the demand for high-value commodities including meat. Due to the fast socio-economic changes in the recent past, a rapid shift has taken place in the dietary practices in favor of sustainable sources of protein for example rabbit meat. Urban and peri-urban producers in Kenya have started engaging in rabbit farming to satisfy the existing demand, particularly in urban areas.
Rabbit farming may be sustainable in developing countries due to the following reasons. First, rabbits may be raised on a grain-free diet. In this world of rising prices and increasing demand for grain, the capability to establish a good protein on garden forage is a plus in third world countries. Second, rabbits are identified by the fast growth rate, high productivity, high feed conversion efficiency, and early maturity. With good husbandry, rabbits may produce above 40 kits per annum examined to one calf for cattle and up to two kids in goats. Third, rabbits are deemed free from odor, noiseless, and may adapt in many ecosystems unlike many of the larger ruminants. Lastly, the study shows that farmers in emerging countries have started showing interest in information and communication technologies. Such technologies are used as selling platforms where farmers and potential buyers meet. Such organizations make it easy for farmers to sell their produce.
Originally, rabbit farming was done as a distraction or for subsistence purposes. In the current past, rabbit production has meant changing from non-commercialized to the commercial one. Commercialization in this case means changing from subsistence to market-oriented farming. Commercialization in agriculture is associated with poverty reduction, income growth, and employment creation. Commercialization of farming as well increases food supply in urban areas thus important in improving food security and nutrition. Nevertheless, in the lack of every systematic study, there have been questions from the entrepreneurs, growing farmers, and even researchers on welfare outcomes such as poverty of commercial rabbit farming, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas. This paper, presumably for the first time, is aimed at addressing issues related to the commercialization of rabbit farming and the related impacts poverty among urban and peri-urban farmers in Kenya and to develop a suitable policy framework for this promising sector of livestock.
We provide to the existing research in two ways. First, newly, we have observed an increased interest in urban agriculture by researchers and development partners. Nevertheless, most of their focus has been on crops wonderfully kitchen gardening—and dairy farming. Small livestock has rarely been studied. Notwithstanding the purpose of rabbit farming in improving livelihoods, according to our knowledge, no study has been done to elicit their role in improving the welfare of urban and peri-urban homes. The second participation relates to the analysis of commercialization and poverty. Most studies use income to capture poverty. Income alone may not capture the multidimensional nature of poverty. The current study contributes to the existing record by considering other dimensions of poverty for example education, income, and living standard indicators.
Consideration for Starting Rabbit Farming Business in Kenya
Starting rabbit farming requires very low investment. It’s very easy to set up and raising rabbits commercially. The following are the consideration
It grows very fast and gains maturity earlier. They become proper for breeding within their 6 months of age. Its gestation period of a rabbit is less compared to other livestock animals. Commonly, a dog gives birth to kids after every two months. Each time one doe may give birth to 2-8 kids. The Gestation period stays for 28-31 days.
Care & Management
Take some extra care and management to the rabbits. Vaccinate them appropriate to keep free from all types of rabbit diseases. Don’t feed them polluted or expired food. Try to monitor all their activities.
The marketing process is the most important part of rabbit farming. Essentially, there are no formal markets for selling rabbit products thus so far like chickens, goats, or fish. But rabbit meat slaughterhouses are coming up due to the high reputation and increasing demands of rabbit meat. Right now you may try the local market, restaurants, and supermarkets. Its meat has a huge demand in China and some other countries. Therefore, if you have enough facilities then try to export to foreign countries.
Each business goes with some problems. Don’t be worried about marketing your products. But the rabbit meat popularity and the consumption rate are increasing rapidly. And a good market place is coming up soon. Hence, for earning extra income, you should be thinking about how to start commercial rabbit farming in Kenya.
Breeds For Commercial Production
Choosing suitable breeds for commercial rabbit farming is the most important. The common rabbit breeds used for commercial production are California White, Flemish Giant, New Zealand White, and some other local crossbreeds. All of these breeds are suitable for business products according to the environment and climate of Kenya.
Making suitable rabbit housing is the most important part of rabbit farming. They are very clean animals. They love to stay in a neat and clean house with a good ventilation system. You may raise rabbits in both deep litter and cage designs. Pick the best method according to your production type and investment capability. Some essential factors to consider which constructing houses for commercial rabbit farming are described below.
- It Depends on the breeds, several breeds vary in their weight. Usually, an adult rabbit weighs between 2-7 kg. And for commercial production 1200-1500 squire centimeters, clean space is needed for 1 kg weight. That means 80cm * 80cm space is presumed for a medium-sized rabbit.
- Do require extra space for proper growth. 80cm * 115cm space is perfect for an adult medium-sized doe.
- Keep the kids or young rabbits in a group till they reach four months of age. 20-30 young rabbits can be kept in each group.
- A proper ventilation system in the house is very crucial. You may cover the walls, doors, roofs of a hutch with chicken wire netting, or made up of bamboo or wood placed 20mm apart. This system is proper for hot-tempered areas.
- In cold tempered areas, you may simply make a house with a solid wall and roof.
- Make a drain inside the house so which you may easily clean the house.
- Clean the feeding and watering facilities inside the house on a regular basis.
A sufficient measure of nutritious and balanced diet food keeps the rabbit healthy and productive. For commercial production, you may feed your rabbits commercially provided supplementary feed. These types of foods are obtainable in the market. Along with this, you may add kitchen garbage, grasses, leaves of various trees, etc. This helps you in reducing feeding costs. A sufficient amount of clean and freshwater is as well required with proper nutritious rabbit feed.
Facts about Rabbits and Rabbit meat
- Rabbits grow fast particularly if fed well reaching maturity at 5 months and slaughter weight at 3 months.
- They need less land (space) with diminishing land size; therefore may be kept at the backyard.
- They may derive their feed requirement wholly on greens only.
- They are prolific each doe capable of reproducing four times a year an average of 8 kits per kindling.
- They have one of the most powerful feed conversion ratios at 4:1.
- Rabbit meat is white meat of high quality, quickly digestible with low fat, low cholesterol, and high protein contrasted to most other meats.
- The unsaturated fats in rabbit meat make 63% of the total fatty acids.
- Rabbit meat is lower in the percentage of fat than chicken, turkey, beef, and pork.
- Rabbit meat gives the lowest calories per kilogram of meat consumed compared to other sources of meat.
- Rabbit meat is one of the most precise meat as it is raised off the ground.
- Other important produced from rabbits include manure, skins, and fur. They may as well be produced as lab animals.
Benefits of Rabbit Farming in Kenya
There are numerous benefits of commercial rabbit farming in Kenya. The benefits of the rabbit farming business in Kenya are listed below.
- They are very fast growing animals like broiler chicken. They gain maturity fast and become proper for slaughtering purposes within 4-5 months.
- The rabbit gestation period is less (usually between 28-31 days) and a do give birth to kids every 2 months. Each time one doe may give birth to 2-8 kids.
- Starting rabbit farming requires very little capital or investment. Even, you may start a rabbit farming business in a well ventilated small space.
- Food to meat converting ratio is higher on rabbit than any other livestock animals.
- Its meat is very tasty and nutritious. All types and all aged people may quickly consume and digest rabbit meat.
- Feeding costs for commercial rabbit farming is as well very less. You may easily feed your rabbits’ kitchen waste materials, grasses, plant leaves, etc. with their regular commercial feed. This helps you to reduce feeding costs.
- Commercial rabbit farming can be a great source of income and employment. You successfully use your family labor for the rabbit farming business. Rabbit farming is as well very pleasuring and entertaining.