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Rabbit farming : Advantages and management

D Hiiveinai Grace / Geetapriya Kh / Praveenchandra S / Y Roshibala Devi *



Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are small mammals of the family Leporidae, order. They are often domesticated as pets and on a commercial basis regarded as livestock. Breeds like New Zealand White reaching up to 5 Kg body weight are reared for meat purpose while Angoras producing 800 g of fine quality fur per annum on average are for fur/wool production. They are also reared as laboratory animals.

What are the advantages of rabbit farming ?

One peculiarity of rabbits is that they can live off feedstuffs unfit for consumption by man, hence there arise no competition for feed resource. Rabbits can be reared in a wide range of environmental conditions; rural or urban environment; small scale, backyard or largescale commercial systems.

Rabbits have high growth rate and feed conversion efficiency; they gain 2kg body weight within a span of 12 weeks and Feed Conversion Ratio is 3:1 or 4:1. Though uncommon in the State, rabbit meat consumption isn’t restricted by religious taboos.

Rabbit meat is pearly white, nutritious and easily digestible. It has higher protein content (21%), lesser fat (10%) and calories(~700cal/400g) as compared to other meat. One important value added product of rabbit is the manure enriched with NPK (3:1:3), this manure can be of great benefits to home-garden owners.

Moreover, rabbits are highly proliferative and has short gestation period of only about 30 days. Rabbits can produce 10 to 15 times of its own body weight in a year. Requiring small spaces for growth and low inputs, rabbit farming has the potential to reach the bar of cattle or poultry farming when promoted in the right way.

How is management of rabbit farming carried out?

Selection of breed: Breeds of rabbit that are suitable for farming in India are White Giant, Grey Giant, Flemish Giant, New Zealand White, New Zealand Red, Californian, Dutch and Soviet Chinchilla. Does and bucks selected for breeding should be healthy.

Rearing system : Rabbits can be reared in deep litter system, cage system and in hutches. The cage system is better than any other systems and is of different types. Flat deck cages or single tire system where the cages are all on same level and litter and urine will drop into pits under the cage.

California cages, where cages are arranged stepwise and litter drops beneath the cage is collected as that of flat deck system. Multiple tier cages, where cages are arranged one above the other and litter droplets will be collected in a tray beneath the cage.

Housing: Houses should be built in a reptile free environment. The cage should have good facilities for feeding and watering and should be well ventilated and constructed in such a way that the excreta can easily go down.

The optimum cage size is of 46×46×46cm (18×18×18 inches)and for breeding cages 92×46×46cm (36×18×18 inches). A nest box measuring 22x11x11 inches, made of wood or plywood is essential for calm kindling and better protection of the bunnies.

Environmental requirement of rabbit : Ideal temperature and humidity for rabbit is in between 10 to 20o C and 75% of RH at 16o C.Ventilation – requirement depends upon weather, cage type and population density. Clean, dust-free air with free air movement is required. Light–about 8 hours and 16 hours exposure to light in males and females respectively is must for sexual activity and fertility.

Feeding: Rabbits are primarily monogastric herbivo- rous animals and consume common type of grains and pulses (sorghum, Bengal gram, Wheat, etc.) as greens or as hay and even kitchen wastes and garden vegetables (cabbage, carrot, etc.) or their leaves. 160 gm of concentrates and 600 gm of green grass should be fed per animal per day.

Rabbit consumes dry matter 6 – 8 % of their body weight out of which roughage can contribute up to 60%. The dietary crude protein content should be 12 to 15 % for dry non lactating does and 16 to 20 % for growers and for lactating does 18 – 19% is required along with ad libitum supply of fresh and clean drinking water.

Breeding: Does can be bred at 5 to 6 months of age. Bucks produce quality young rabbits when bred at 1 year of age.

Health care : Health care is important to make sure rabbits stay productive. Rabbits are susceptable to Coccidiosis, Ear cranker, Rhinitis, sore hocks, etc. They must have access to ample space, food,water and veterinary care for their optimum production.


* D Hiiveinai Grace / Geetapriya Kh / Praveenchandra S / Y Roshibala Devi Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writers are 1st Year BV Sc. students at College of Veterinary Science &AH, CAU, Jalukie, Nagaland
This article was webcasted on October 23 2021.



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