RABBIT AND ITS MANAGEMENT - A COMPLETE RABBITRY GUIDE

RABBIT AND ITS MANAGEMENT - A COMPLETE RABBITRY GUIDE - RABBITRY UNIT: Rabbit are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order lagomcrpha, found in several parts of the world today and rabbit is a four-footed animal reared in either floor or cage for the purpose of wool or meat production. Rabbit can also be feed with domestic waste/ forages and little amount concentrate. Rabbit management are not difficult/ Rabbit can be reared at backyard. The rabbit's long ears/ which can be more than 10 cm (4 in) long, are probably an adaptation for detecting predators. 


They have large/ powerful hind legs. The two front paws have 5 toes/ the extra called the dewclaw. The hind feet have 4 toes/ fore limbs and hind limbs. Rabbit is also classified as monogastric herbivious because of it's ability to consume forages and diges fiber like ship, goat and cattle, although it does n not posses four complex stomach (Rumen/ Reticulum, Omasum and Abomasum). Rabbit fur colour varies from breed to breed and locations.' Rabbit is the only domestic animal that practice coprophagy or night food which means consuming of it's faeces directly from the anus and this is done only in the night.

BREEDS OF RABBIT
It has been recorded that there are various breeds of rabbit all over the world today and their varies in size, weight, colour, type of hair coat and eye colour.
Breeds of rabbit includes
·        Flemish Giant
·        Florida White
·        New Zealand
·        Tan
·        Chinchilla
·        French Angora
·        Florida White
·        Dutch etc.
In EBSU Teaching and Research Farm, the breed of rabbit reared are New Zealand/ Chinchilla and Dutch and it varies in colour and body size.

TYPE OF RABBIT HOUSING AT EBSU TEACHING AND RESEARCH FARM
Cage system is used at Ebsu Teaching and Research Farm and it is built with iron wire gauze which has its door at the top.

RABBIT REPRODUCTION METHOD
Rabbit reproduce through sexual reproduction which involves mating of the male and female rabbit (Bulk and Doe). The reproductive rate of rabbits is notorious because of it's spontaneous ovulation. The common rabbit breeds from February to October; its gestation period is 30 days and 32 at most and there are five to eight young in a litter.



RABBIT SEXUAL MATURITY
Depending on his/her genetic makeup, a female rabbit (Doe) will reach it's sexual maturity age at 7-8months and the male rabbit (Bulck) is between 8-9months of age.

CLEANING
Cleaning is done between 5-6weeks of age.

FACTORS AFFECTING MATURITY OF RABBIT
·        Record keeping
·        Cutting of grasses from the farm.
·        Feeding and supply of water
·        Sanitation
·        Inspection etc.

RABBIT RECORD KEEPING
It is very important to keep records in your rabbitry, as without them you would not know what rabbits are out of what, the date a doe is due, the age of the rabbit for entering   shows,   procurement,   stock   identification,   stop   performance transaction expenses and the financial involvements.

CUTTING OF GRASSES FROM THE FARM
Grasses   like   centrocema   and   northern   gamba   grass   are   cut   from   a designated pasture land to feed the rabbit.

FEEDING AND SUPPLY OF WATER
Proper nutrition is essential for good health & longevity. Rabbits need hay, a good high fiber pellet (free of nuts/seeds/dyed bits), fresh vegetables, and clean water. If a rabbit is allowed to stay without food for too long, a serious condition called enteritis can occur. This is a shutdown of the intestinal tract caused by lack of food to digest. A constant supply of good quality fresh grass and grass hay (they should comprise about 80% of the overall diet)- e.g. Timothy, Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Ryegrass hays. Rabbits should not be fed Lucerne (alfalfa) or Clover hays as they are too high in protein and calcium. Grass or grass hay is paramount in providing sufficient fibre for gastrointestinal health and encouraging chewing for long periods of time for healthy teeth. Basal diet for rabbit is forages and concentrates for supplement, which is needed to improve the health condition of the rabbit. These supplements are provided in the feeding trough.

Provide water the way they are used to (e.g. heavy ceramic bowl/drip-feed bottle). Rabbits prefer water bowls. Check daily that rabbits can access the water and the end isn't blocked.
Water intake in rabbit varies to so many reasons, which are as follows.
1)  Stage of production.
2)  Health status
3)  Type of feed you are given
4)  Season
5)  Age of rabbit

Sanitation and disease control
The rabbits' environment must be kept clean and sanitary. This means" removing waste sand keeping housing, feed, water and air relatively free of disease germs and parasites. Sanitation and disease prevention are the keys-to a healthy rabbitry.

Quarantines
The best rule in disease prevention is to start with healthy animals from a reliable breeder. The history of disease in a colony of rabbits is as important as the health of individual animals when they are bought. To avoid buying disease "carriers'' that transmit diseases without showing symptoms, ask the breeder whether his or her rabbits have had specific diseases. Quarantine all new animals brought to an established colony (keep them at least 50 feet from all other rabbits) for at least 2 weeks. Experienced rabbit raisers with healthy colonies buy few rabbits, because each addition brings a risk of adding new diseases to your farm.

INSPECTION                             
Rabbit inspection is carried out in the rabbitry unit which includes taking a close lock on their mode of eating, their faeces and their behavior. All these are enrrJed out in order to know if there is a disease infestation.

DISEASE MANAGEMENT                                                             
Diseases generally is known as the state of unhealthiness of the body and it's management is essential to keeping the rabbit in good health. Rabbit disease are characterized by inactiveness or reduction in feed intake, loose of weight. This diseases could be as result of pathogen or stress, which can be environmental.

DISEASE CAUSING ORGANISM.
i.     Bacterial
ii.    Fungi
iii.     Virus
iv.     Nematode
v.     Protozoa

COMMON DISEASE OF RABBIT
Coccidiosis: There have been twelve species of coccidia described in rabbits affecting the intestinal tract. Usually to appear clinically unwell, the rabbit will have more than one species infecting it at the time. There is only one specie of coccidia which affects the liver of rabbits and this is called Eimeria steidae.
Severity of the intestinal form of the disease will depend on the specie of coccidia present in the animal and the age of the rabbit - young rabbits are more susceptible to disease than older rabbits, but if a concurrent illness is present, if antibiotics have-been given for a long period of time, or when exposed to a large coccidia burden then disease may also occur in adults. Hepatic disease can affect rabbits of any age. Coccidiosis is primarily a disease of husbandry, with damp, crowded and unhygienic conditions predisposing to it. Wild rabbits also carry the disease, but can only spread it if a domestic rabbit is put out to graze on grass that has been grazed by wild rabbits.

PREVENTION OF COCCIDIOSIS.
Anti-coccidial drugs such as amprolium can be given in the drinking water, or alternatively coccidio-stats, which do not kill but slow the growth of coccidia, can be used. An examples is Sulfadimethoxine. Antibiotics are to be user! if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected, but only broad spectrum anti-microbials are recommended. A second faecal examination should be scheduled for two weeks post commencement of treatment.
In Ebsu teaching and research farm, coccidio-stats are used in everyday feed as a control mechanism, coccifar and embazin forte is the common drug found in rabbit pellets used for commercial rabbit farms. Preventative husbandry measures such as keeping the rabbits on wire mesh and thorough disinfection of all cages are necessary to avoid outbreaks. In the case of an outbreak treatment with sulphonamides should be used a 

COLD CONDITIONS: This is as result of exposure of rabbit to high humidity or can also be caused by a viral infectious disease that infects the upper respiratory system. It is also known as acute viral rhinopharyngitis, or acute coryza. Being one of the common infectious diseases in rabbit.

Prevention and Control of coccidiosis:
Provision of a relatively warm environment by increasing the pen temperature or given of antibiotic, like terramycin to the rabbit.
• Diarrhea: It is a disease condition that can be caused by unhygienic environment/ water poisoning or feed contamination. It is characterized with watery feaces and can lead to reduction in feed intake and lost of weight

SKIN MANGE: Fur loss can be caused by several different kinds of mites that can infest rabbits, including mange mites (Sarcopies spp.), fur mites (Cheyletiella spp. and Leporacus spp.), and mites causing ear canker (Psoroptes spp. or Chorioptes spp.)
A severe flea infestation also can cause such severe itching that the rabbit scratches off his own fur. Fortunately, there are excellent, modern medications available that are safe for rabbits, and will kill these parasites quickly. 
·     Prevention and control: The affected animal has to be isolated from the healthy once, then clean and disinfect the hutches. Ivomec injection could be given to the animal.

NUTRITIONAL DISEASES OF RABBIT.
Although much of the research on rabbit nutrition has been conducted with more of an emphasis on productivity rather than longevity, even this research makes it clear that we can do a great deal for our rabbits by making sure that what they eat is affecting them positively, rather than contributing to the life-threatening digestive disorders we all fear.
To begin with, it is important to understand the way a rabbit's gut works. Because a rabbit's digestive system is set up to ingest cellulose in the form of tough, woody stems and fibrous vegetation, it functions best when it has something to work with. However, large quantities of finely ground feed, sugars, and high levels of carbohydrates can overwork the gut. Therefore, the key to keeping rabbits alive and happy longer is to make sure their digestive tracts stay viable and motile, while striking a balance between indigestible fiber and nutrition.

4- CONSTIPATION: This is a condition caused by over feeding as to lack of exercise and insufficient water intake. The symptoms are restriction to walking on foot and restlessness.

Prevention and Control:

Enough water should be given to the rabbit and also water should be checked per/day.
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