Charity Asiimwe, a mother of three and a resident of Kauga in Mukono district cannot do away rabbits. Asiimwe studied at Mulago Nursing School and is currently pursuing a degree in medicine at Uganda Christian University. Keeping rabbits has helped her raise her tuition fees.
Asiimwe started with four rabbits, one male and three females, which multiplied to over 1,000 rabbits in the period of three years.
“Rabbits have a gestation period of one month and after two to three weeks they are able to get pregnant again,” she says.
She explains that she started with well-ventilated constructed hutches because rabbits need a lot of aeration. This cost her sh800,0000.
“At sh800,000, I got a hatch that could hold six females. Each hutch is 2ft x 2ft with a water system installed,” Asiimwe says. A male hutch has to be 1.5ft x 2ft since male rabbits stay alone in the hutch due to aggressiveness they have.
Asiimwe keeps several breeds of rabbits. These include Chinchila and New Zealand White because she says these are the best types to rear in Uganda due to the environment because they multiply fast, while they are good mothers and fathers respectively. Other types include California giants and Shekard.
Asiimwe says she has to watch out for diseases and other extreme conditions. Among these include leprosy, diarrhoea and coccidiosis.
“Leprosy (kigenge) is the most notorious disease that comes due to poor hygiene in the rabbit hatches,” Asiimwe says. She says the hatches must be kept clean all the time. Diarrhoea, bloating occurs due to eating molded foods while flue comes due to dust coming off the floor.
Rabbits feed on different types of grasses including black jack, sweet potato leaves, cassava leaves and cabbage leaves, but these should be fresh. However, they also feed on hay and processed feeds including customised pellets.
Asiimwe says market for rabbits is available.
“We cannot sustain it because the demand is very high and supply is still low because people have not ventured into rabbit farming as much as they should,” she says. She targets selling at least 20kg-30kg of rabbit meat per week. A kilogramme of rabbit meat goes for sh25,000.
Asiimwe’s biggest challenge is that the veterinary officers are not well versed with diseases that affect rabbits.
“They are not so keen at treating rabbits and this is a big problem. We are relying on experiences from other farmers to treat the diseases,” she says.