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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

RABAK eyes Laikipia

By Kelvin Njuguna

Laikipia County is bracing itself to practice a new type of livestock farming-rabbit keeping. This is after a protracted campaign by the Rabbit Keepers Association of Kenya (RABAK) and the Ministry of Livestock to have residents embrace the art of rabbit keeping. So far the two institutions have had a series of seminars and workshops in the area to inform farmers on the benefits of this venture. 

In Kenya, rabbit keeping started on a wrong footing twelve years ago. Lack of market and insufficient capital were the major setbacks. However, this was been solved through different government. Currently, there is a plan to construct a 22 million worth slaughter house in Thika which shall help farmers slaughter the rabbits using the right procedure. The Leather Council of Kenya (LCK) has also established a ready market for rabbit hides in Turkey. Leather- made items are known to sell fast in this country. The World Bank has also extended its support to this area. Recently it funded a training dubbed ‘treaty and processing of hides.’ LCK has approached shoe makers to use rabbit hides in making shoe linings in an effort to boost rabbit business in Kenya. 

 RABAK Chairperson addressing  the public at Lariak Day Sec.School.
Apart from hides being one of the profitable products of rabbits, meat is a very valuable product. Rabbit meat is classified as white meat. It is in the same class as chicken, pork among others. White meat is nutritious and harmless to human compared to red meat. Therefore there is ready market for the meat. However, because of people’s taboos, many consider this meat to have an odor. To avert this, the right slaughtering procedure must be followed .This involves hitting the head before slaughtering because these animals are known to have internal excretion when scared therefore causing its meat to be odious.     Rabbit droppings are also used as manure. A research is being conducted on the use of rabbit heads and legs in making dog food.

Laikipia County RABAK representative Mr. Waweru Kanja has been in the forefront urging residents to start rabbit breeding. He has held a series of meeting in Kio, Kahuruko, and Ndurumo area. In the month of May, a seminar cum exhibition was held at Lariak Day secondary school to pass information to participants on how to run rabbit business. They were shown different breeds of rabbits that include New Zealand, California White, Ear-lop, Blemish Giant, Chinchilla, and Angora. Members of the public were urged to be careful on where they source the rabbits for breeding.

Breeding stations are normally chosen by government. At the moment they are situated in Nakuru Mombasa and Nyeri. 

Rabbits are the easiest animals to rear in Laikipia. Since early seventies the area has undergone different climatic changes which rabbits can thrive well in. It also needs low capital to start. One can build them a hutch or chose to rear them in an open field but it is important to build them a hutch because they are susceptible to diseases. They also require supply of enough food and water. Though rabbits freely feed on fresh leaves it is important to first dry the leaves in sun light for few hours. This reduces their chances of being sick. A healthy rabbit has a smooth coat, clear eyes, and clean ears and breathes quietly when relaxing in the hutch.

Waweru has a word of advice to farmers, “every family shall be assured of meat at least every week if they rear rabbits because two rabbits are enough to give birth to a litter which when calculated translates to two rabbits per week on a family table”


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