I’ve waited for so long to bring this story out here. At first I was holding back cause I didn’t want to jinx it in any way, because I felt like it was a piece that needed to reach as many people as possible. It was a first piece that I got to use professional photos and I was looking forward to having it in the paper. It was a piece I enjoyed doing, because it was impromptu , but that day turned out to be just great. Thing is, I really wanted for it to appear as a feature in a newspaper, but oh well, I have to do what I have to. So if you don’t mind, please go through it, and trust you me definitely learn something about rabbits, if it fascinates you, how about you share with your friends who love, or might be interested in knowing about rearing rabbits? If you also want rabbit meat, I will definitely link you up with the lady. I feel so emotional because for some reason, I feel so much connected to this piece. Making it worse, I feel awful because I had promised Kabura and her family that I would definitely pull all the strings I can to put their wonderful work out there. Truth be told, I tried, tried so hard that when eventually nothing was working in my favor, my blog is the last resort I had. This is my safe haven. Not forgetting counting on you guys to help me share the story with as many people as possible. And to Dennis Nyaga, a young blooming photographer who didn’t think twice about accompanying me to do the story and take this awesome photos, I will forever be grateful, because it meant so much to me. Every time I’m looking at those photos, other than marveling at how big these rabbits are, I feel so proud, you know, like “hey you guys, look at the very first professional photos I used in some piece that had my heart tendrils swaying all over” you know that type of pride that makes you feel like yes! I just want to do more stories and get them out there for the world. So, if you want to see more of awesome photos, (nyaga-shutterbag) on IG is where you can witness it for yourself. Dennis, thank you so much for that deed, may God bless you. And to Kabura, I’m so sorry this piece didn’t make it to the newspaper like I had promised. It honestly hurts me so much, because I was also looking forward to it being there. I hope you understand.
Hope you all enjoy this piece.
VENTURING INTO THE RABBIT FARMING ENTERPRISE.
Commercial rabbit farming in Kenya has for a long time, not gained the ground that farmers would really desire. But of late, rabbit farmers are now earning good money by venturing into this segment of livestock enterprise niche, whose potential is actually displaying a luminous future.
In the heart of Githunguri village, Gatanga sub-county, we meet a youth who is also a student, by the name of Martha Kabura, who has been overcoming adversities by working tirelessly to see to it that her 50 grade rabbits remain healthy during this pandemic period.
Having started with only 4 rabbits, she is proud to now showcase just how big her business has thriven, to a total of 50 rabbits. Among her 50 rabbits, she has four main breeds which can be easily distinguished by their features. She rears the California White which can be known by their black nose, red eyes and black feet, the New Zealand with red eyes, the Dutch with a white tie and last but not least, she rears the Giant Fleming known for having a brown furry body and their increase in weight happens so fast.
Martha solely feeds her rabbits on pellets, hay and sweet potato vines that are first left to soften before being fed to the rabbits. A half handful of pellets is mixed with a half cup of bread crumbs, to save on the feeds, whereby the rabbits are fed only once in a day. She takes her time to show us each feed at a go and how she measures the quantity.
Rabbits love cleanliness hence their water is changed every day and the hutch cleaned too. To ensure the rabbits remain healthy, they are feed with D.C.P and multivitamins in a bid to boost their immunity systems. Another interesting thing to note is that once they give birth, the babies should not be touched until they are over 10 days, since the mother can refuse to breastfeed them. They also stand a high chance of contracting diseases if touched. Grass is hang for them and not put on the floor of the cage, so as to enhance cleanliness.
‘Rabbit market is not yet saturated, hence there is no sustainability’ says Kabura, as she takes us around her cages, demonstrating everything. She is now forced to sell her rabbits locally due to the fact that people no longer come from far and wide to buy her rabbits. ‘A rabbit usually goes for 3,500ksh and the meat is sold at 400ksh per kg’ claims Kabura as she puts up one rabbit on a scale to weigh its weight.
When it comes to rabbit farming, nothing goes to waste. Their waste is used in farming and actually the best when it comes to strawberry farming. The skin/fur can be sold to the textile industries while the urine instead of being disposed, is also used as fertilizer, but mostly, as a very effective insecticide. The urine is also sold at 150ksh per litre. Rabbit meat is soft and sweet, hence even kids can easily consume it. Additionally, it is quite easy to control the rate of serving.
‘People are yet to have the necessary awareness when it comes to rabbit rearing and production. Many people engage in small scale since they are not equipped with the necessary information when it comes to rabbits’ Kabura sadly says.
When rearing rabbits, it is good to have a few concrete facts that will help one navigate the course. Rabbits are a very territorial lot and hate anything that stresses them out. When it comes to mating, the female has to be taken to the male and that act is known as serving. Also to avoid interbreeding which results to inferior breeds, males and females are put in different hutches. They communicate by stomping their feet or as a way of indicating there is danger. Rabbits require sufficient light and no cold. When putting up the hutches, one should ensure there is space between the top cages and those below, to give room for waste collection. Under the cage, a translucent/plastic iron sheet is placed to collect the urine which is highly corrosive. Normal iron sheets would easily corrode. The hutch should be slanted so that the urine is drained into containers. If not slanted, the rabbits stand a chance of getting sick, once exposed to their waste. Some of the diseases they are easily prone to include; pneumonia, bloating which mostly occurs during weaning but can be counteracted by being given glycerine which is also crucial in mite eradication which affects their ears, mouth and feet. They are faced by a problem of rats eating their babies when they are a few days old.
‘Just like any other enterprise, rabbit farming has its challenges that make it hard to be able to earn the maximized profits that this business is capable of bringing’ Challenges include; starting capital can be quite high since it requires a good quality hutch that can take up almost a solid 50,000ksh. Exploitation from other farmers is also devastating since they are set out to buying rabbits, or the meat at a very cheap price. ‘The government should highly invest in rabbit skin industries since it is hard to get one’ says Kabura. The fact that there is no market for rabbit skin makes her dispose them off, which is draining money down the gutters.