We are starting a rabbit farm. Christian and I purchased six rabbits – two males and four females because we read all the facts and success of rabbit breeding and nutrition of the meat. We wanted to give it a try before presenting it to the board but Mike came and he got so excited about it we are now in the process of building cages and a barn to house two hundred+ rabbits! He spoke with the young man we met that is breeding, raising, selling and educating people on the benefits of rabbits and was just as impressed as we are with his knowledge, his heart to educate poor Ugandans and his entrepreneurial spirit. He is a preacher’s kid also, and has a heart on fire for Jesus. Here are some of the facts:
Rabbit feeds include grass, weeds, garden waste, and concentrates like rabbit pellets. Moreover the carcasses of rabbit have very high meat to bone ratio in comparison with other meat producing livestock. Rabbit manure is high quality fertilizer, while utilization of rabbit skins to make hand bags, shoes and hats. (Just about every part of the rabbit is utilized).
Rabbit meat has less fat and cholesterol than red meat, higher health benefits. Apart from fish, rabbit meat has the highest amount of protein and contains the lowest fat than all other types of meat. It contains fewer calories and Sodium than other meats but contains more calcium and phosphorus (which is very good). And, it tastes like chicken!
Rabbit farming is lucrative because, as we all know, they produce abundantly and quickly! It takes only thirty days from conception to birth, and they can produce throughout the year. They grow and mature very fast, can be ready for eating and/or market in less than six months. The cost of raising forty rabbits is the equivalent to raising one cow. Rabbits convert up to twenty percent of the proteins they eat into body weight. That’s higher than any other animal! The two breeds we will mainly be breeding are the New Zealand White and California rabbits, they get huge! A mature rabbit can sell at $18-22 at market while only costing $1 a month to raise. It is easy to start-up and cheap to operate and maintain. After the costs of cages, food costs are relatively low or even free. We have abundant food already growing on our property, and see the benefit of employing widows to grow grasses or beans and maize to convert to pellets. We can also farm worms with the manure to process into the pellets.
So our plan is to breed and raise the rabbits, educate our neighbors on the nutritional value of the meat. As I have said, malnutrition is one of the biggest problems here. Most families NEVER get meat to eat. We could give them chickens or a cow but they will not eat them. They will hold on to them until they absolutely have to sell them when in need of money. With rabbits, they can start out with one male and two females and very quickly have enough meat to eat and some to sell. We are going to have a training program called 5 for 5 where at graduation of the program the person will receive five rabbits to breed and cages. They are to train someone and give five rabbits, and so on. We will be the buyers and to ensure they are keeping meat to eat, will put a limit on how much we will buy at one time. Part of the training will include record keeping to ensure there is no inbreeding and also to prevent breeding a female too often.
The urine sells for almost as high a price as the rabbit meat because it is an excellent fertilizer. In Kenya, urine sells higher than the meat!. There is a great market opening up in Kampala for urine, manure and meat. Hotels and supermarkets are begging for rabbit meat, the demand is much higher than the suppliers so we have no worry we can sell plenty of meat which in turn will allow us to put money back into projects, Another of goals is to be as self-sufficient as we can and not have to fully rely on donors to our projects. The skins can be sold, and we would like to donate or employee seamstresses to make moccasins for the babies to help prevent jiggers in their feet.
So, we believe this is going to be a fruitful endeavor and feel we have God’s blessing on it. We are praying that the main objective – to provide families a way to have more nutrition in their diets – will be accepted and flourish.
We have had two teams of workers for the past 10 days and they have worked hard. Christian has been cutting wood every day, 7 hours a day to make the cages! He has had three to four little helpers that have been underfoot and some days driving him crazy. But, these boys have no fathers and he knows that he can be a great influence on them and teach them early a skill that will help them in the future. Yesterday I missed a picture opportunity, Christian said he turned around and all three boys had pencils behind their ears just like he did! No wonder he keeps having to search for pencils! You can see how fast the work has been going by the before and after pics!
Today – 5 days of work later: