RABBIT PRODUCTION

Rabbit production in many parts of Kenya is still confined to the youth, mainly 4-K club members and some young farmer. However, a few farmers are showing some interest in rabbit keeping mainly due to an emerging market.

The level of management is generally low  with respect to housing, feeding, and disease control aspects.

Rabbits are fast  growing and prolific breeders. Their meat is of high quality just like the meat of chicken.

(a)        it has high quality protein

(b)        Less fat than chicken

(c)        Its highly digestible suitable for the sick

(d)       It is more densely textural than chicken meat.

(e)        The meat to bone ratio is high

(f)        The fat of rabbit is very low in cholesterol

Potential for rabbit production is high considering that other sources of meat are getting very scarce and costly.

HOUSING                

  • A standard hutch should be 75cm x75cm x 60cm.
  • The floor of the hutch should be at least 60cm above the ground to keep off predators. Raised slatted floor keeps the rabbits clean and dry.
  • Use locally available materials e.g. wood, offcuts, timber, wire mesh for the floor etc.
  • Mud hutches and thatched houses can also be constructed.
  • Nest boxes should be large enough 12” x 12” (30cm x 30cm).Provide plenty of dry bedding in the nest.

 

Hutches                                 

 

  • A standard hutch should be 75cm x 75cm x 60cm.
  • The floor of the hutch should be at least 60cm above the ground to keep off predators. Raised slatted floor keeps the rabbits clean and dry
  • Use locally available materials e.g. wood, offcuts, timber, wire mesh for the floor etc

BREEDS:                   Common ones are New Zealand White, Californian White, Chinchilla, French Ear- lopped, Kenya White and crosses from them.

Rabbit breeds

 

California                                           New Zealand

Flemish giant                                     Crosses

 

BREEDING

Source:                                    National rabbit multiplication centre (Ngong), Agricultural Training Centers, farmers and research institutions.

Age of breeding:                     Serve young does at 5-6 months. Mature does should be served 2-5 days after   they wean.

Gestation Period:                                On the average 30-32 days.

Heat Signs:                              Does become restless and nervous and will like to join the                                                    bucks.

A healthy Doe will automatically be induced to heat by the presence of the Buck

Production Period:                  Does and bucks should be kept for 3-4 years after which they should be replaced

Litter size and frequency:        Under good management, a doe should produce 4-5 litters per year with  8-10 kids per litter.

 

MANAGEMENT OF YOUNG RABBITS

 

Brooding                                Provide heat if the place is cold. Nesting box should also be provided and equiped with dry grass, straw or wood shavings.

Also provide soft dry hay for the doe to cover the young rabbits.

 

FEEDING

  • Concentrate feeding by use of Rabbit pellets at 130 gm per mature rabbit per day.
  • Extensive feeding with green fodder, edibles weeds which is sometimes supplemented by concentrates.
  • Fresh succulent greens should not be fed directly to the rabbit as too much water in the greens will cause bloat.
  • Water should be fed ad-libitum.

DISEASES AND THEIR CONTROL

  • Healthy rabbits should be alert with a sleek and shinny coat.
  • The commonest diseases are:

Coccidiosis

  • Mostly affects the young rabbits.
  • Symptoms are: – diarrhoea which sometimes may be white in colour or blood stained.
  • Loss of appetite, dehydration and death if the animals are not treated..

 

Treatment

  • At the onset of clinical signs treatment is possible by use of anti-biotics e.g. Penicillin and sulphur – based drugs. Otherwise if the disease progresses, there is no treatment, kill and destroy all the affected rabbits.

Control

  • By use of coccidiostats in feed and drinking water.  .
  • g. – Amprolium powder
  • Coccid solution
  • Also isolate all affected stock

 

Ear Canker (mange)

  • Caused by mites, and it affects the inner side the rabbit ears. The disease is mild but disturbs the animals.  The earliest signs are:  Constant head shaking and scratching of the ears due to irritation.  There is a scab or crust formation on the inner side of the ear.  Due to heavy infestation, the affected ears may droop downwards.

Treatment:

  • Application of hydrogen peroxide and wound powder e.g. sevin- dudu dust.

Control:

  • Avoid rats in the rabbitry since they are the vectors for these mites.

 

Other Diseases

  • Bloat or potbelly caused by sudden change in diet
  • Pneumonia – common during cold weather and in poorly ventilated hutches.
  • Nutrition disorders e.g. Rickets, Rey Neck due to lack of essential vitamins.

 

NB      Rabbits are also affected by internal parasites like roundworms especially when fed on greens.  Therefore regular deworming at least every 3 months is advisable.