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Tips on how to turn your rabbit hobby into new money spinner

WORK LIFE
By Jennifer Anyango | May 9th 2021

James Kibuku at his Rabbit farm at Engashura estate in Bahati, Nakuru County (PHOTO: Kipsang Joseph)

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light many talents with potential to earn money that were previously hidden.

When the pandemic hit, Dennis Daniel started Funnai Rabbit Farm in Buruburu, Nairobi county in 2020 in a bid to meet his financial needs. 

Rabbit meat contain more protein and less fat compared to beef, turkey, pork and chickens. As a result commercial rabbit farming in Kenya is becoming popular. 

Daniel started his farm with two female rabbits and one male that cost Sh400 each. He later bought one pregnant rabbit and by December, he had 25 rabbits.

To raise rabbits successfully, he says, one must begin with healthy animals, provide a good hutch, clean and nutritious feed and take good care of them.

Housing

Rabbits can be kept in cages, hutches or in a house. Whichever the case is, their living quarters should accommodate enough room for their feeders, drinkers, kits and for expansion.

The hutch should be an enclosed construction with proper ventilation, lighting, heating, and cooling systems.

It cost Daniel Sh15,000 to construct a rabbit cage for the 25 rabbits. He used metal, wire mesh and iron sheets. With time, he had to expand to a bigger cage, which cost an additional Sh3,000. The cage, he says, can accommodate 200 rabbits, though currently he has 70.

Breeding and Production

The most popular breeds in Kenya are the California White and New Zealand.

“New Zealand white is good for meat production, when fully grown, it can give up to two kilos of meat,” says Daniel.

Rabbits multiply rapidly and they start breeding at four to five months of age. The gestation period for the doe (female rabbit) is 31 days and she could give birth to between six and 10 kits (baby rabbits) in one go.

Rabbits can reproduce up to seven times a year. The doe can produce up to 50 kittens in a year, which translates into good income with successful breeding.

For reproduction to take place, the buck and doe must be kept together to induce mating, after which they should be kept in separate cages.

Feeding

Daniel gives his rabbits hay, though they can also eat cabbage and lettuce. He sources the hay locally at Sh200 a bale, which lasts a month. 

“Rabbits are naturally nocturnal creatures, meaning they mostly eat at night. Feeding them well in the evening is critical,” says Daniel.

Other than that, rabbits should also eat pellet rations, which provide nutritional requirements. Daniel’s rabbits consume 10kg of pellets per week. He buys them at Wakulima Market where 50kg of pellets costs about Sh2,800.

“Pregnant does and those with litters should receive all the feed they can eat in a day while bucks and does without litters need six to eight ounces of pellets a day,” says Daniel.

Returns

Daniel sells rabbit meat at Sh700 per kilo. For those to be kept as pets, he sells one at Sh500 while a fully grown rabbit goes for Sh2,000. 

Disease Control

Rabbits are susceptible to several diseases that can reduce production to unprofitable levels. The respiratory disease caused by Pasturellamultocida is responsible for decreased productivity and a high mortality rate in does.

“So long as you ensure the environment is clean and you give them antibiotics, mortality rate is eight out of 10,” said Daniel.

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