RABBIT MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA - AFRICA


Rabbits are coprophagic animals (consume their own faecal matter). They are chiefly natural, although they are something’s seen in the day time, they also have acute smell and hearing, and feed on a variety of grasses
SOME SPECIES OF RABIIT
      New Zeeland white    
Flemish giants grey giant and white giant
Dutch
Black blown
angora
CHARACTERISTICS IN RABBIT
  • Rabbits are prolific and will breed all year round in a well-managed rabbitries.
  • Does have been known to kindle up to 23 young at one time. The average is eight.
  • Rabbits usually have 4 to 5 litters per year. With proper management, rabbits can be kindled more intensively.
  • The young are ready for market at 4 to 5 pounds. With proper care and feeding, they will be 8 weeks old or less at this stage.
  • Rabbits have an efficient feed conversion ratio, which is the amount of feed consumed per pound of gain.
  • A doe can produce up to 10 times its own weight, or more, in offspring per year.
  • Rabbit meat is one of the most nutritious meats available. It is highest in protein, lowest in fat and cholesterol, has the least number of calories per pound and has only 8 percent bone.
Breeding
As in any breeding operation, you should always breed from good stock.
  • Generally, small breeds mature earlier than larger ones. Polish can usually be bred at 4 months; medium weight rabbits at 6 to 7 months; and giants at 9 to 12 months. Many commercial breeders, however, begin breeding successfully at 5 months.
  • The normal estrus cycle is 16 to 18 days, with 2 infertile days at the beginning and the end when the doe lacks interest in the buck. Rabbits are induced ovulators and ovulation occurs only after mating.
  • The doe should always be taken to the male’s hutch for breeding. If she does not mate within a few minutes, she should be removed and returned later. Does will show a false pregnancy following unsuccessful mating  This false pregnancy lasts 17 days, and the doe will not breed during this period. For this reason, most commercial breeders will generally re breed the doe on the 18th day.
  • Bucks should be used no more than 2 or 3 times per week, although they can be successfully used several times per day for short periods. As a general rule, one buck should be maintained for every 20 does.
  • The most important factor is to keep animals in top body condition. Overweight animals produce unsuccessful mating and poor litter quality.
Kindling
  • The normal gestation period is 31 days and the doe will usually eat less 2 or 3 days before kindling. The nest box should be placed in the hutch on the 28th to 29th day. The nest box is kept out of the hutch until this time to avoid contamination by the doe. Most litters will be kindled at night, and the doe should not be disturbed while kindling. If the doe is not given seclusion, she will destroy the litter. After the litter is kindled, the doe pulls more fur from her body to make a nest. This plucking of fur is in no way harmful, except the doe’s immediate appearance. Many breeders will keep several nest boxes with clean fur for first litter does and other does that do not pull enough to make a good nest.
  • The average litter size is 8, but it can range all the way from 4 to 14 or more. Since the average doe is equipped to nurse approximately 8 young, it is a common practice to breed several does at the same time, and then transfer young from the large litters to the small ones 2 or 3 days after kindling to even out the milk supply.
General Health Problems and Illnesses
An accurate diagnosis of any disease is necessary before treatment can begin. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics is not a satisfactory substitute for sound disease prevention practices. Some of the more common health problems are discussed in the next few paragraphs.
  • Diarrhea: This disease is often referred to as bloat, scours, mucoid enteritis or diarrhea. It accounts for a high percentage of death in young rabbits. Greatest mortality occurs in age groups 5 to 9 weeks, just before or after weaning. The disease does not confer immunity and its cause is unknown.
  • Tapeworm Infestation: Rabbits are intermediate hosts for two tapeworms of the dog. The rabbit is also an intermediate host for tapeworm in the cat. Dogs and cats should not be allowed near the rabbits’ feed, water and bedding as they transmit tapeworm eggs in their feces. Dogs and cats should not eat the intestines of rabbits because they may become infected and continue the cycle of infestation.
  • Slobbers: Excessive saliva is produced by young animals. It is caused by feeding too many greens.
  • Sore Hocks: Sores appear on the hocks and rabbits sit humped and appear listless. It is due to an infection and inflammation of the foot pad.
  • Sore Eyes (Weepy Eyes): Infected animals have a watery, milky discharge around the eyes due to a vitamin A deficiency, infection or injury.
  • Vent Disease (Rabbit Syphillis): Infected animals have a rawness around the vent which may be swollen and covered with scabs. The organism is spread in breeding. Isolate infected animals, remove scabs and apply antibiotic ointment daily.

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