Rabbits are animals bred mostly as pets because of their adorable nature. Agricultural experts say one can turn this intimacy into a money mine.
They add that the only important ritual a farmer must perform is to love the animals deeply to be able to multiple them and serve the growing market — locally and internationally.
“Rabbits require tender loving care. They are fragile and can die easily but there is a growing demand for them, especially for their white meat, but there are no farmers to meet this demand,” Dr Beatrice Luzobe, a rabbit farmer trainer, says.
Myths about rabbits
To start rabbit farming, Luzobe says farmers need to first debunk the myths that are affecting the business. These include rabbits as being part of the rodent family, killing their young and that they cannot breastfeed. She said these claims are unfounded.
Luzobe notes that rabbitry is possible if they are taken care of. She added that rabbits require a lot of care since they are sensitive and easily get stressed. They are more affected by heat than cold. Rabbits are clean animals and multiply quickly. A doe can conceive on the very day it gives birth and requires little space.
“You can do the business in the backyard using your old structures. So, there is no need to worry about the size of land,” she says.
“Rabbitry is a good business. There is potential for local and international markets,” Luzobe adds.
For prospective farmers, she advises that they acquire knowledge on rabbitry, available markets and shops that deal in inputs and understand the entire value.
She explains that whereas the demand is available, there are not many shops selling medicines for rabbits, making them prone to adulteration and falsification.
“For a farmer seeking to venture into rabbit farming, there are things one should know before starting. First understand what you are going into and then set realistic goals,” she adds.
Luzobe says the knowledge should also include aspects of breeding, recordkeeping, proper rabbit management and market research.
Like other farming ventures, she says, rabbits require both monetary and time investment.
“People who think they can conduct the enterprise remotely, should not even bother going into rabbitry. If you do not have time, think of something else,” she says.
Luzobe notes that prospective farmers should also think about how they are going to sustain the business and have clear plans on how to get inputs.
She says farmers should start small and harness their neighbourhood as they seek to expand to serve institutions and simple events.