How to start a rabbit farm with little capital

If you want to learn how you can start your rabbit farming business, or you want to understand the various steps to take in starting and managing a rabbit farming business, then this step by step guide is for you.

Rabbit farming has grown over the years as not just a major source of meat and food but also income and employment.

In this step by step guide, you will learn all you need to know about starting and making money from rabbit farming business, how profitable rabbit farming business is. You will also understand the various equipment needed to start a rabbit farming business.

Lastly, you will learn the various steps to take to ensure that your rabbits are healthy, how you can maintain high productivity in your farm and make good profit.

Rabbit farming

Why should you choose rabbit farming business

There are many reasons why one should invest in rabbit farming, many farmers rear rabbits for meat purpose, some for pets. Rabbits are also reared because of their prolific nature, their rate of reproduction is faster than that of pigs, goats or sheep.

Read also: 10 best rabbit breeds in Nigeria and their characteristics

A female rabbit delivers a litter every 31 days and can produce more than 12 times her own weight in offspring in a year. Starting a rabbit farming business with just 2 does and 1 buck could give you 50 rabbits or more within the first year if you manage them well.

Some farmers also prefer rabbits farming business because of the characteristics of rabbits. Rabbits are very cool, beautiful and lovable animals, they can be raised in small and large-scale production systems anywhere all over the world.

Other farmers for their non-capital intensive nature. Rabbit farming takes a considerable  amount of cash to start. Young people can easily afford to start keeping rabbits with virtually no financial risk.

Rabbit farming could begin as a backyard or garden enterprise, requiring very little space. You can construct a moderately sized rabbit farm within the house for a start.

In addition, Some farmers prefer rabbit farming business because rabbits are very fast-growing animal when managed well, they mature and get ready for slaughter within 2 months of age. 

For this to be achieved though, they must be taken care of and managed well, proper feeding and maintenance is essential.

Rabbit farming is also preferable because they eat a wide range of food item. For farmers, the feeds are readily available and you can even produce them yourself as rabbits feed on a large variety of food.

Read also: Top 15 breeds of goat in Nigeria and their characteristics

In addition to that, there is an increasing market demand for rabbit meat all around the world, though the huge meat demand is still led by poultry, pork and beef, rabbit isn’t lost in the table.

Other reasons for rearing rabbits is for their fur or wool which serves as raw material for producing different types of clothing.

In terms of nutrient, rabbit meat contains a high ratio of protein, energy, calcium and vitamin than any other types of animal meat with less cholesterol, fat and sodium content than other meat.

Obviously, rabbit farming business is a good start for entrepreneurs who find interest in animal husbandry or livestock farming.

 Rabbit farming for beginners guide

With the small size of rabbits, starting a commercial rabbit farming business is easy and moderately task demanding. The very first step to take in starting a rabbit farming business is to undergo a rabbit farming business training

Step 1. Undergo a rabbit Farming Training

I cannot overemphasized on the importance of training in any agribusiness, unfortunately, this is still overlooked by many farmers.

The truth is, here in opportunitytracks.com, we will give you every necessary information you need but we also understand that, that cannot be compared to a practical training especially in livestock like rabbits.

You need a regular and close by mentorship and guidance to do the business of rabbit farming properly, you cannot always run to the internet anytime you encounter a problem in the farm.

Read also: Apply for the 2020 IITA Agricultural Project Training

No, there are issues you just need your teacher or trainer to put you through. If you find it hard to find a rabbit farmer near by, you can just search for different groups on Facebook, twitter and Instagram, even google.

Step 2. Decide the aim of your farm

Different farmers raise rabbit for different purposes, some for pet, some for meat and several other purposes such as research and medical purpose.

It is more profitable to be a specialist than a generalist, pick a purpose from the above and decide which you want to be known for.

If you want to rear rabbits for meat purpose, choose it, with time you will be known for it and anyone who wants to satisfy that need (meat) will definitely come for you.

You will have a market of your own that you are known for satisfying, it is best for you that engaging in collective purpose and ends up satisfying none.

If you rear rabbit for pet purpose, anyone who wants rabbit as pet will definitely come for you, but hardly will someone who needs rabbit for meat come for you.

Likewise anyone who rears rabbit for meat purpose or general purpose, pet lovers won’t come for you because they believe you are being cruel to rabbits by killing them for meat.

Step 3. Draw your business plan

Drawing a business plan is a profitable starting point for a commercial rabbit farming business, farmers mostly underrate the importance of having a business plan.

This is, however, because they deem it unnecessary in the livestock industry but that’s not true. An accurate business plan is a guide and a director.

Lack of a business plan can easily be pardoned in a subsistence farming system but for commercial purposes, you need to write down your rabbit farming plan.

rabbit farming

Here are important points to note in your business plan.

  1. Expected Cost: Your business plan should contain the estimated total amount you want to spend in setting up your rabbit farm including feed purchasing.
  2. Time and expected result: An accurate commercial rabbit farming business plan should contain expected time of result; this is the time projected that your rabbit farm will start generating income.
  3. Desired size of farm: the desired size of your farm should be in your business plan. This will direct your activities and choice making.

You necessarily don’t need to hire an expert, all you need in your business plan is to have a clear path of what you want to achieve in the business.

After securing a proper business plan, your next line of action is to  execute your plan properly so as to achieve your target. 

Step 4. Choose a suitable location

A good and suitable rabbit rearing location should have the following characteristics.

  1. The location should be close to human; rabbits don’t smell like other animals when kept close to homes, if kept clean, they are lovely to be around with, they should be kept close to the house or better still, not far away from human habitat.
  2. The location should be secured.
  3. Access to clean water.
  4. Access to light; this is not always necessary but for commercial purposes, the light may be needed at a certain stage.

It is also important to note that your location may not meet all these criteria, you can also start and sort the challenge with time but don’t sweep it under the carpet like it doesn’t exist.

Read also: How to properly care for your baby goats

Making your rabbits comfortable should always be your priority, you know that the more comfortable they become, the healthy and productive they become.

Step 5: Buy the required equipment

There are several equipment you need to start successfully, your rabbit farm. The basic ones are all you need, they include

  • Feeder or Feed containers :This equipment is used to feed the rabbits, you can get as many as possible, the more they don’t have to fight to feed from one container, the better and healthier they stay.
  • Water containers: Water is one thing you must not joke with in your rabbit farm, you need to provide water for the rabbits all the time.
  • Neil cutter: This particular equipment is used to cut the nails of the rabbits.
  • Broom: The broom serves as a cleaning agent, you need to keep the rabbit farm clean, it is a way of promoting the health of your rabbits.
  • Hayrack : This helps to keep hay off the floor. it also help to make your farm neat. Neatness is an important commodity in rabbit farming.

Step 6: Construct a suitable rabbit house 

There are two most used methods of raising rabbits or rabbit housing; the deep liter system and the cage system.

  • Deep litter method of rabbit farming

This method is better for farmers raising few rabbits, a maximum of 25 to 30 rabbits in a room, the floor is better done with concrete, with 5-6 inches depth litter straw or wooden shavings.

Disadvantages of the Deep litter method of rabbit production

  • Due to the number of rabbits which could be in a room (20 to 30), there is a high risk of disease.
  • There is a risk of overcrowding, rabbits love space to run around, with the deep litter method, they stand a chance to be overcrowded if kept in the same room. 
  • The rabbits are difficult to manage in this system.

In this method, farmers are encouraged to be watchful of the number of rabbits they introduce to a particular room, rabbits don’t perform well when overcrowded, this should be taken note of.

The male should be kept in a separate room from the female.

The cage method

opportunitytracks

This is the best method of keeping rabbits for commercial purposes.

Here, the rabbits are kept in a cage mostly made of wire or iron plate.

This method ensures maximum production, sufficient space and free movement of rabbits.

The male and female should be kept separate except during breeding. They should be kept in the same cage for mating to take place.

Step 7: Choose the right rabbit breeds from a reliable rabbit farmer 

There are different breeds of rabbit all over the world, among which are  

  • Dutch
  • Zealand Red
  • New Zealand White
  • Cottontail
  •  Hyla 
  •  Chinchilla
  • Californian
  • Giant Flemish
  • Rex and
  • Satin 

All are prolific breeds which you can choose from, depending on the one available in your area and your purpose of raising them.

Some breeds produce more meat than others, you can read more about each of the breeds by clicking below

Make sure you purchase your rabbits from a trusted seller, this is to avoid stocking your farm with rabbits with a faulty health history.

It is of most important you ensure that the rabbits are healthy before buying and introducing them into your farm.

How many rabbits can I start my farm with?

The number of rabbits you should start with depends on the size of your farm, purpose of the farm and what you can manage. if you are breeding for subsistence purpose.

Then, you can start with just two female and a male and in one year, you will be sure of at least 40 to 50 rabbits.

What should I do next after purchasing my rabbits?

After purchasing your rabbits, your next line of action is to breed them, take absolute care of them. You know their survival depend largely on you, so, you must care for them, understand their needs and be punctual in making such need available.

Step 8: Breed your rabbits properly

Rabbits mature within 4 to 6 months of age, always use healthy rabbits with proper body weight having higher meat to bone ratio. Never bred the females.

Clean the cage or litter regularly, take proper care of sick rabbits and isolate them from the others, ensure proper care to breeding males and pregnant female rabbits. 

Feed the rabbits properly (their food must be neat all the time), dispose of remnant food materials before adding a new one.

Feeding is done twice daily or once depending on the choice of the farmer and the nutrient capacity of the food. 

rabbit farming

Does when managed well should produce not less than four kids, normally, a doe can give birth to 2-8kids. The gestation period of a rabbit is 28 to 32 days.

Step 9: Feed the rabbits properly 

If you want your rabbits to stay healthy; You need to feed them with good hay which is essential to a rabbit’s good health, providing roughage that reduces the danger of snuffing and other blockages.

Rabbits feed on herbs, herbs are not just considered as rabbit food, they are also medicinal to rabbits.

Rabbit also eat fruits such as apple, mango, grapes, tomatoes, melon, pineapple etc. 

Read Also: Latest agricultural news, grants, loans and and updates

You can choose from a large variety of grasses, like elephant grass, tridax, milkweeds etc.

You can also feed them with cucumber, watermelon, cabbages, and lettuce. You should feed them in the morning and evening.

If you want to introduce a new type of food, please do it slowly. They can`t adapt swiftly to a new type of food.

Access to Clean Water is important, don’t trade clean water for anything else.

Get adequate water containers where your rabbits can drink clean and sufficient water.

Generally, a growing rabbit requires the following nutrient composition

Crude Protein: 15%

Energy: 2500kcal/kg

Crude fat: 3%

Crude Fibre: 14 – 15%

Calcium: 0.5%

Phosphorus: 0.3%

Chinchilla rabbit

Step 10: Market your rabbits and sell at the right time 

Cleaning is very crucial in rabbit farming, if you want your rabbits to produce well, you must look out for the following management practices.

Cleaning, tagging, handling, feeding, disease management and control, breeding. You must understand that rabbits are sensitive animals.

They are easy to rear but at the same time, you can loose hugely if you don’t manage them well. Constantly clean your rabbit farm.

Observe your rabbits to detect sick rabbit earlier, do not feed your rabbits rotten or decaying food materials all in the name of managing food. Ensure that they have access to good water.

Carefully handle your rabbits to avoid injury and damage, they have light skin, if you want to lift your rabbit, use one hand to grasp the loose skin of the neck region and  place the other hand below the hindquarter to provide balance.

Market your rabbits and sell at the right time 

The ease of marketing your products depend on your location, whereas it is easy to market your products in some areas, it is not easy in others, you should determine your marketing plan before starting.

Selling your rabbits or rabbit products comes in different categories. 

While some prefer to sell to off-takers; people who come to buy from your farm for consumption and other purposes, some prefer selling to new rabbit farmers who are just establishing their farms (They are many out there because more and more people are going into the business on daily basis), while other may prefer to sell to the processor. 

Read also: Watermelon farming: Easy guide to start a profitable watermelon farm

Most farmers who produce in large quantity prefer to sell off in urban markets, local markets, nearby towns and villages or in urban areas where the demand for rabbit products is higher, export to other countries, or sell to medical personals, they are important for laboratory use.

Aside from selling the rabbits, there are other ways one can make money from rabbit farming.

rabbit breeds in Nigeria
Rabbit

How to make money from rabbit farming business 

There are various ways to make money from rabbit farming

  • Sell rabbit urine: Selling rabbit urine is a prominent way to make money from rabbit farming, rabbit urine is used organically by farmers who don’t want to use inorganic pesticides.The urine act as an insect repellant, it repels those insects that come to harm your crops, this is not the case with inorganic insecticides which normally kill the insect but as you may know, some insects are important to the crops. So, killing them is a great disadvantage to the farmer, repelling helps to preserve the important insects and that’s where rabbit urine plays its role.
  • Sell rabbit fur and pelts: Rabbit furs is used to produce clothes, you can sell them to clothiers for production of clothes and wool
  • Pack and sell rabbit droppings: You can sell the droppings which are also very rich in nitrogen, they are used in the industries for organic fertilizer manufacturing.
  • Prepare and sell rabbit as meat: Rabbit meat is more healthier than chicken, pork, beef and goat, you can make a lot of money by preparing and selling rabbit meats.
  • Selling rabbits as pet: If you are a pet farmer, you cam sell your mature breeds to make money, rabbits are adorable and loevly to be with, there are good number of persons who buy them as pets.
  • Sell breeders: You can make good money from rabbit farming by selling your breeding stock to other farmers. You can have different farmers that you supply breeders to.
  • Render a services: You can get trained to become a vet and administer drugs, you can also offer logistics services.

Dutch rabbit

Things you must do to keep a healthy rabbit farming business 

  1. You must always keep your cage clean to prevent disease and infection because most of the rabbit diseases are brought by the condition of the cages
  2. Wash off remnant food materials before adding another to prevent feeding them decayed food substances.
  3. Do not feed the rabbits decaying food materials.
  4. Ensure that they are treated often 
  5. Be very observant.
  6. Do not expose them to too much cold or sun.
  7. Avoid overcrowding.
  8. Always isolate anyone observed to be exhibiting abnormal behavior.

Risks of Starting a Rabbit Farm

Rabbits can be eaten or killed by almost any other animal(predator). Therefore, insects, soldier ants, and snakes can easily destroy rabbit breeds.

Infections can easily destroy your rabbit farming business if not well managed.  Therefore, watch carefully after any occurrence of diseases and always be at alert to any form of infection and take necessary action against them as soon as you can.

Conclusion

Setting up a Rabbit farm  is easy and of course, isn’t capital intensive but it goes beyond constructing the the rabbit cage or hutch box.

Even though rabbit farming is practically easy to embark on, make no mistake of starting a rabbit farm without first, getting equipped with the necessary knowledge to run, successfully, a rabbit farm. If you are thinking of investing in livestock, then rabbit should be in your consideration book.

Let us know what you feel about rabbits in the comment box below, do you think it’s a good bet?  We would love to hear from you. 

If you need any advise, Guidance, we would love to be of help.

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