Rabbits are commonly raised around the world to sell their meat and for gathering fur. Their meat is very tasty. Rabbit fur is of high quality, having extensive application in the textile industry in developed countries.

Since rabbits are small animals, not too much space is required to set up a rabbit farm. These animals adapt easily to most climatic conditions, but certain specific measures need to be taken for responsible commercial farming. Rabbits also make great pets.

To fulfil the food demand for a growing population, we must find different ways of food production. The rabbit, known as “micro-livestock”, can be a great source of food production. This provides an opportunity for rabbit farming, and commercial production can be a good source of income and employment.

Rabbits are small, furry mammals with long ears, short fluffy tails, and strong, large hind legs. They become sexually mature between six to eight months after birth and can continue to reproduce for four years. Their gestation period is 31 days, and a female can produce up to 12 young ones each time she gives birth.

Rabbits are economically viable livestock due to their high reproductive rates compared with other livestock and their meat is highly marketable, fetching good market prices. The Tiger Animal Feeds Technical Department has the expertise and knowledge to support interested farmers going into rabbit farming on a commercial level.

The rabbit farming business does not require too much capital to start. Proper containments are necessary to provide shelter for the rabbits and to protect them from predators. It is possible to start off with a few rabbits and eventually increase the number. Enough fodder should be gathered for the farm.

The main commercial aspects of rabbit farming are the fast-breeding nature of the female rabbit, and low-capital feeding requirements. Rabbit meat is known for its high protein and low-fat content. Though rabbit meat demand in Zambia is still low, it is steadily growing to a commercial level. Hence, Tiger Animal Feeds is offering free technical advice to interested rabbit farmers.

Why is rabbit farming a feasible option?

Considering the high input cost of other enterprises like broilers, pigs, and beef, rabbit farming can be a good alternative farming business. There is also not much competition.

The small space and low costs needed, combined with a high production capacity, makes this business a suitable option even for the unemployed youth in the country. A healthy female rabbit can produce about 50 young ones yearly, on average. One can simply start off with very few rabbits. Rabbit meat is considered white meat since it consists of mostly poly-unsaturated fatty acids. This means rabbit meat is a health product with very high protein and low fat content.

Rabbits are also the best wool producers based on wool produced per kilogram of body weight, because rabbits need about 30% less digestible energy for producing wool compared to sheep. This wool can be mixed with natural and synthetic fibres like sheep wool, rayon, and nylon to produce higher quality handlooms. Rabbit wool is also about eight times warmer than sheep’s wool. In addition, rabbit manure is a good source for composting soil used for crops.

How to raise rabbits profitably

The most important part of rabbit farming is the housing provided for the animals. They should be protected from natural predators like snakes, as well as from possible attacks from other animals. Proper housing also keep the rabbits protected against extreme conditions like sunburn, heavy rain, storms, and strong winds. Exposure to rain for too long can cause respiratory complications or even pneumonia.

A sufficient space in your backyard or terrace should be reserved for this purpose. Such a setup is simple and requires very little investment.

It is important to do market research before you start. Rabbit meat will definitely have a large market internationally, therefore, export options
should be considered.

Advantages of rabbit farming

There are many advantages to commercial rabbit farming:

  1. Rabbits are very fast-growing animals.
  2. Their food conversion rate is better that of other animals.
  3. One female rabbit can give birth to about 2 to 8 kits each time.
  4. Rabbits can be raised in a small space.
  5. Production costs are lower, compared to other large sized animals.
  6. Rabbit meat is very tasty, nutritious, and easily digestible. People of any age can eat it without any problem.
  7. In terms of meat production, rabbits are similar to poultry.
  8. Rabbits require less labour compared to another animals, and can easily become a family venture.
  9. Commercial rabbit farming requires relatively little capital, and you will get back your investment within a very short period.
  10. As it is a highly profitable business, commercial production can be a great source of earning and employment creation.
  11. You can meet your family’s nutritional demands by raising a few rabbits.

As an investor, or a farmer, or a youth wishing to invest in livestock production, consider rabbit production as a good option. Tiger Animal Feeds can be your best partner for rabbit feed and technical support.

Prepared by Barbra Mulonda Simbaya, Tiger Animal Feeds Technical Advisor. You can contact her on +260-969-202-207.