Farming in Africa requires innovation and resilience to succeed. One of the sometimes neglected goldmines in farming in Africa is Rabbit keeping.
Rabbits are easy to keep since they do not require acres of land and their diet is pretty simple. Rabbits don’t have many diseases like many other animals bred in Africa. The demand for rabbits far outstretches supply and therefore they are some of the most profitable animals to keep.
The first step in successful rabbit farming in Africa is the choice of breed. It is important to note that only one breed should be kept together. Mixing of breeds would lead to poor quality of stock. There are few simple choices of rabbit breeds for the African farmer. The most common breeds in Africa are the New Zealand white, the California White and the Chinchilla. Chinchilla is a grayish brown breed and it is usually preferred for its larger mature weight.
When shopping for a rabbit for beginning stock it is important to have the history of the rabbits you are breeding. It is advised that you procure your rabbits from a breeder so that you can get to know the quality of the rabbit and also the history of the parents and exposure to disease. The best time to get a rabbit for breeding is when it is between 4 to 8 weeks old. The nose of the rabbit bought should not be running, the coat should be smooth and even and there should be no signs of diarrhea.
The next important step of rabbit farming in Africa is the housing and feeding. Rabbit cages for breeding rabbits should be at least 16 square feet for a small to average sized rabbits. About two thirds of the rabbit cage should be well ventilated and lit. The other one third should be enclosed and opaque to give the doe some ideal breeding place or a bedroom. The roof should be slant for drainage, weather proof and ideally hinged to make cleaning of the cages easy. The cage should be suspended at least two feet from the ground to protect the cage from dampness and predators.
The floors of the cage should be padded with old newspapers and saw dust on top. The sleeping area should have extra padding by hay or finer saw dust to give a comfortable bed. The area where the rabbits prefer to pass urine should be more padded with newspapers to allow for absorption of the urine. Rabbits feed on readily available foods including fresh vegetables and fruit some ideal veggies include Kale, cabbages, carrot tops, broccoli, spinach etc. These diets can be supplemented with pellets. Use heavy clay feeding troughs for the rabbits and avoid plastic utensils since the rabbits have been known to gnaw on them. Rabbits should be given plenty of water to keep them hydrated and alert.
All rabbits should be vaccinated against Rabies and rabbit calicivirus and any other diseases that the local veterinary office would advice.
Rabbit farming in Africa is ideal for those in need of a cost effective farming.