Managing a rabbitry is one of the most lucrative agricultural enterprises. In Nigeria, the demand for rabbits for several uses is on the rise. And this pushes many farmers to start rabbitries of their own or partner with other farmers to build rabbitries that will meet the market demand.
However, managing a rabbitry is no easy task and if the right measures are not implemented, you may end up losing all your investment in the first few months.
One of the most important things to consider when starting a rabbitry is rabbit food.
In this article, I’m going to provide you with the complete guide on feeding management of rabbit and rabbit feed formulation.
Feeding Management of Rabbit
Rabbit feeding management is very important for every rabbit farmer due to the high costs of feeding and raising rabbits. Rabbit food consumes most of the total production cost of a rabbit farm, which is why a rabbit farmer should have a feeding management plan to help to reduce the operating cost of the farm.
For the local farmer who aims to reduce operating cost and still produce highly valued rabbits, feed management becomes very important.
What Do Rabbits Eat in Nigeria?
Rabbits feed on plants, leaves, vegetables, and forage of almost any kind. These plants and leaves include some of the most common grasses that can be found growing in many parts of Nigeria.
As a farmer, you can also grow them in a separate part of your farm to reduce feeding cost. You can also buy these grasses from other farmers or salespersons.
These grasses are highly beneficial and contain most of the nutrients needed for the proper growth of the rabbit.
Related: Latest Rabbit Price in Nigeria
Rabbit Feed Formulation
Rabbit feed formulation helps you to save on rabbit food costs. With the formulation, you can easily decide the right feed that will be beneficial and save cost. An ideal feed composition for rabbits should look like this;
- 12% – 18% crude protein
- 7% minerals
- 14% fibre
A rabbit requires about 2700 kilocalories of metabolic energy daily. Knowing this food composition and the total calorie requirement is important if you hope to run a successful rabbit farm.
For some farmers, this feed formulation might cost a lot more in the long run, especially if the mortality rate of their rabbits is high. In such a case, the farmer can turn to rabbit pellet formation. The prices are quite affordable and you can easily buy them from the market.
4 Things to Consider in Rabbit Feed Formulation
There are several things to consider when making a rabbit feed formulation. It is important that the amount of feed you provide be determined by these factors.
The factors include the age and productive performance of the rabbit. Rabbits at a particular age and productive stage require a certain amount of feed that will provide them with the correct amount of nutrients needed for their daily activities.
Farmers can adopt two diets depending on the types of rabbits they are raising. These diets could be:
- Growing diet for the fryers or
- Lactation diet for the does
Below are other factors that should be taken into consideration when making rabbit feed formulation.
1. Feed Requirements for Growth
Baby rabbits require lots of nutrients for them to grow really fast and healthy. Usually, a creep diet is fed to babies to aid their growth. However, this diet could be very expensive.
The good news is that baby rabbits can grow without this creep diet. All you have to do is to ensure that the right amount of nutrients are fed to them in the right proportions.
2. Feed Requirements for Weaning
The stage at which a rabbit’s food requirement changes from milk to solid food is known as weaning. At this stage, the feed composition should contain more fibre than starch. This is because the rabbit might still be unable to digest starch.
After two weeks of a high-fibre and low-starch diet, the rabbit should be able to digest starch. You can now switch to a high-starch diet.
3. Feed Requirements During Gestation/Lactation
During the lactation period, the nutrient requirements of the rabbit are mostly proteins, phosphorus, and calcium.
4. Weight of the Rabbit
The weight of the rabbit is another important factor to consider. A rabbit weighing 4kg – 5kg will have a different food and nutrient requirement compared with a rabbit that weighs more.
A rabbit that weighs 4kg – 5kg will require a food composition of 150g of concentrates and 600g of green grass daily. This amount should be enough for the rabbit to maintain its body weight.
Lactating does require more food even if they weigh about the same. They will require 200g of concentrates and 700g of green grass daily.
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Common Grasses in Nigeria to Feed Rabbits
- Elephant grass
- Guinea grass
- Banana/plantain leaf
- Bitter leaf
- Pawpaw leaf
- Pear leaf
- Pumpkin leaves
- Sow thistle
- Potatoes leaf
Rabbit Feed Ingredients
Grains include oats, barley, wheat, and grain sorghums. These grains can be fed to rabbits of all ages including young ones. The grains should not be spoiled or mouldy.
Tougher grains should be crushed or grounded to enable the rabbits to consume them, however, soft varieties of grains (maize) can be eaten just the way they are.
To prevent waste, feed should be pelleted before being served to the rabbits. If you ground and make the grains into a mash before serving, damp it with water to prevent dust from entering the rabbit’s nose as it could lead to irritation.
Crops like sweet potatoes, sugar beets, carrots, and turnips are enjoyed by rabbits, so you can go for such crops. These crops and plants also contain many beneficial nutrients and they are made up of a lot of water.
However, greens are not effective enough in helping rabbits gain weight. This is why you should ensure that you feed them greens and concentrated feeds together.
Whichever rabbit food you decide to include in the feed formulation, make sure it contains the right amount of nutrients and meets the rabbit’s daily requirement. With proper feed management, you should be able to save on food and production costs.
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