02/06/2013

Rabbit Management

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Are you planning to start a business raising rabbits for commercial use? Then, the step by step guide in this article will help you to establish a good and profitable rabbit farm management. It will also help you learn the basics of starting a rabbit farm right out of your backyard.


Housing of Rabbits

The type of house used for rabbit keeping will depend on the scale of production. The main objective is to provide adequate protection for the animals against harsh weather conditions such as rain, sun and heat. 
  • Rabbits are usually kept in hutches (small boxes). 
  •  Each hutch should have the following dimensions- 90cm long x 60cm wide x45cm high. In large rabbitries, the hutches are arranged in rows on wooden or metal stands of three feet (3ft) above the ground with passage between rows for the attendant 
  • The hutches can be arranged in single, double or triple tiers. 
  • Hutches can be of wood or metal surrounded by wire netting. This makes it to last to last longer. 
  • For medium or large scale rabbitry, old poultry house or a similar one can be used. But sometimes, hutches are placed in poultry deep litter-house or in a well ventilated building. 
  • The roof of the hutches should be placed in disinfectant bowls in order to keep off pest attack e.g termites. 
  • The males are usually kept separate from the females.


Feeding Rabbit

  •  They are simple stomach herbivores. 
  • They should be given Albers Rabbit Breeder Paks, because it is a complete ration on its own and no additional ration is necessary. 
  • Where the above is absent, then they should be fed with concentrates in pellets form, as well as succulent forage crops and grasses. 
  • The succulent forage and grasses include the following:

Aspilla Africana (goat weed), Talinum triangulare (water leaf), Amaranthus spp (usually preferred to other vegetables), Stylosanthes gracilis (stylo), Centosema pubescence (centro), Panicum maximum (guinea grass), Penisetum purpureum (elephant grass), Emilia spp (Emilia), Tridax spp, Calopogonium spp. 
  • Sometimes they can be fed on poultry grower’s marsh when the pellets are absent. Since the marsh is dry is dry and dusty, sprinkle some water before feeding in order to prevent nasal irritation and wastage of feeds. 
  • The protein content of feeds for dry does and bucks should be 12-15% while that of pregnant does and nursing does is 16-20%. Protein content of  as high as 24% should be added to the production ration.
  • Pellets should be balanced with vitamins and all the essential mineral salts including table salts. 
  • Water should be supplied regularly: young rabbits require more water intake than the adult ones, because water shortage can lead to retarded growth. 
  • All the concentrate feeds and water should be supplied in feeding troughs and watering troughs.

Hygiene in Rabbit

  • Adequate cleanliness should be maintained in the rabbitry so as not to lose them to diseases and pest attack. 
  •  Clean the floor of the rabbitry daily. 
  • Use disinfectants like Izal, Detol, etc to keep germs away from the hutches.
  • The feeding and watering troughs must be cleaned regularly before new supplies of feed and water is made. 
  • Clean the wire nettings and remove dust and cobwebs from the hutches.
  • Keep breeds of the same age, sex, type together. 
  • Cull and treat any sick rabbit and remove dead ones from the cage. 
  • The dead rabbits should be burnt and buried deep inside the soil. 
  • Regular deworming of the rabbits is necessary. 
  • Treat the rabbits with drugs recommended by the veterinary expert e.g antibiotics and coccidiostat.
  • Do not carry the young rabbits by the ear lobe, instead, lift by grasping the fold of skin behind the shoulders with one hand, with the other hand supporting the weight of the rabbit. 
  • Unauthorized persons should not be allowed to touch or feed the rabbits. 
  • Visitors should use the disinfectant in the foot deep before entering the rabbitry. 
  • The surrounding of the rabbitry should be weed free.

Breeds of Rabbit and Rabbit Breeding Guide

Rabbits are used for their wool, fur, and meat. They are also used as testing specimens by laboratories. Their breeds usually determine how they are used. And so, before starting a rabbit farm, it is important that a prospective rabbit breeder determines to whom he should sell his rabbits. Will it be to restaurants, meat shops, individual purchasers, schools, laboratories, hospitals or breeders? One can advertise his business in rabbit journals, rabbit association directories and farm periodicals and by joining rabbit exhibits.

Breeding stock for a rabbit farm may be bought from local breeders. Medium-sized rabbits breed at 6 to 7 months of age and give birth after a month of gestation. They are very prolific with about 7-15 kittens per kindling and with short gestation period of 31 days. Can undergo about 7 and above kindlings in a year.

Breeds of Rabbit
Flemish giant, California red, New Zealand white, Lop, California white, Angora, Chinchilla, Dutch, Champagne d’Argent, Blue Beveren, Crosses, New Zealand red.

Terminologies in Rabbit Management

Buck: adult male
Doe: adult female
Kitten: young rabbit
Litter: female with young ones or all the young ones (rabbits) produced at the same time by one doe.
Meat: rabbit meat is second to poultry meat (chicken) in quality and value.
Hutches: house of rabbits or pen in which rabbit lives.
Suckling: feeding of young ones on the mother’s breast milk.
Dam: the mother of a set of young rabbits
Sire: the father of a set of young rabbits.

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