One study details production in family-managed rabbitries in Sokoto Metropolis in Nigeria. Rabbits are used for a cheap meat source in Nigeria, and evidence of small scale rabbit raising in backyards abounds in Nigerian cities.
Herd sizes range from 3 to 19 rabbits, with a ratio of 1 male to 3 females. Average rabbitry is 10 rabbits, but 60% had less than 10 rabbits. Most frequent types of housing were cage or living room or garage or open yard or shed. Rabbits raised in garage or living room were kept on concrete floors. The entire herd is housed together in a group.
Sanitation is mainly done by sweeping. Some of the herds kept in cage or open yard are kept on the ground, not on concrete. This allows burrowing to escape the heat.
Rabbits kept in a shed used the deep litter system. The other forms, garage and living room are unconventional and have obvious shortcomings.
For feeding, Amaranthus was the most popular greens, along with garden trimmings and leftovers, kitchen waste, grains, lettuce, carrot leaves and other leafy vegetables.
While greens were placed on the floor, grains were served in bowls. The rabbits did best in cages, rabbits kept in garages did the worst, due to poor ventilation and filthy conditions.
From: Hassan W.A., Owolabi R.O. (July 1996) Production performance of domestic rabbits in semi-arid zone of Nigeria. Proc. 6th World Rabbit Congress, Toulouse, France. Vol. 3, 359-363.
Now lets go over to Cuba, and see about some city rabbits there. Since 1991, there has been in Cuba a proliferation of rabbit raising in urban and suburban areas.
But nobody really knew how many rabbits were involved. Then in 1993-4, there was an outbreak of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease.
In order to implement control measures for the disease, a census of the entire rabbit population of the country had to be taken.
This revealed that 23,558 rabbits lived in the urban areas of Havana City Province.
From: Ponce de Leon R. (July 1996) Production system and technical improvement of rabbit breeding in Cuba. Proc. 6th World Rabbit Congress, Toulouse, France. Vol. 3, 410-406.
A survey of rabbit production is done every 4 years in Hungary. About 98% of Hungary's rabbit production is done in small scale enterprises.
Over 31% of rabbit breeders have 6 to 10 does. Only 17.2% have over 20 does. More rabbits are being kept in wire cages, and in bricked buildings.
Regarding place of living and level of education, rabbit breeders in the survey represent the composition of the entire population of the country.
The average age of the rabbit producer is 41 years. Of the people in the most recent survey, 28% are retired or disabled pensioners, 36.4% are manual workers, 12.7% brain or office workers, 7% students and 16.4% unemployed.
This unemployed group is new to the survey; more and more people are in poor living conditions as a result of social and economic changes and try to make some extra money raising rabbits, although in many cases with little success at achieving a profit.
From: Kustos K., Szendrö Zs. (July 1996) A survey on the working conditions of small-scale rabbit farms in Hungary. Proc. 6th World Rabbit Congress, Toulouse, France. Vol. 3, 377-380.
There is our large rabbitry (40 to 60 does) here in a suburban area of the City of Surrey (population 300,000), at Canadian Centre for Rabbit Production Development. Link for more information.
Encouraging small rabbit husbandry gives families their own supply of very nutritious meat, a meat that meets all human amino acid requirements, is low in cholesterol and high in Omega-3 fatty acids. This results in more people eating rabbit, which in the long term is good for commercial production of ranch-raised rabbit.
The above reading materials will give you an idea of what to do and not do, in setting up your rabbit project. But please, the emphasis here is not to be setting up rabbit projects everywhere, with all this activity as the goal. The well-being of the rabbits is the primary consideration at all times; if the rabbits are not taken care of properly, they will not stay healthy and your project will fail. In all circumstances, observe the following recommendations:
Raising rabbits on a small scale in an urban environment provides a means of converting garden and other food wastes into a high quality protein for the family, while also providing an excellent manure for the garden, which can be used directly without composting. Cut grass, weeds, hay, straw, surplus or damaged vegetables and fruits, stale bread, and most any other unspoiled food waste (except for coffee grounds) can be fed to rabbits. Rabbits are quiet, and when kept under normal raising conditions, make no objectionable odours, so similar to guinea pigs, make an ideal urban food animal. As is shown by the example of Cuba above, urban food security is increased when many people are raising a few rabbits each.
Visit a family rabbitry in Mexico!
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