How to Start Rabbit Farming
Do you want to start Rabbit Farming business? Then there are few points which you may need to consider:
Rabbit farming is not at all an expensive venture. It doesn’t need much money as every other agriculture does. Instead, it takes a lot of knowledge about the animal husbandry and how best to raise animals. You should start with a successful rabbit farming business plan to gain high profit in the short term.
Knowing how to decide the sex of a rabbit is one of the essential steps in rabbit farming. Sexing Rabbits helps you to avoid unwanted pregnancy if you keep groups of rabbits together. If you follow the below mentioned few steps, you can find the sex of your rabbit easily.
Know the Rabbit’s age
Young rabbits can start breeding at the age of 12 weeks. It means that it’s essential to separate the rabbits into same-sex groups before three months of age.
You can attempt to find the sex of a rabbit that is a few days old. But to see the sex of your rabbits, wait until they are at least four weeks old.
Start with the older rabbits
If you are not aware of sexing rabbits, it’s best to start with an adult. If you have the parents of a litter of rabbits, you can look at the anatomy of the mother and father rabbit. It will help you see what a fully developed rabbit looks.
Get the rabbit into place
Pick a rabbit to start. Like most mammals, the rabbit’s genitals are between their back legs. To see this area, the rabbit needs to lie on back.
Here are few videos which might help you to get the rabbit into place.
How to Handle a Rabbit
Rabbits are naturally friendly and snooping. Developing a good relationship with them will be rewarding for both of you. Also, it’s crucial for you to know how to handle a rabbit.
Many rabbit owners feel uneasy when it comes to picking up or carrying their rabbits. Especially when it’s a complaining rabbit, it makes them even more unsettled.
Introduce your rabbits to human touch early.
- Rabbits may find human contact distressing if they aren’t handled regularly from a young age.
- Before holding a rabbit for the first time, it is best to let the rabbit get used to you.
- Move slowly and talk slowly. Rabbits feel relaxed in a quiet and calm handling environment.
- Safety is supreme when handling rabbits. Their delicate spines can even fatally be damaged if they feel insecure and struggle when held.
- Hold rabbits gently but firmly. Ensure one hand supports their back at all time.
- Never pick rabbits up by their ears, legs or tail. It is painful and can cause severe damage.
- Supervise children always. Only adults or responsible older children should pick up rabbits.
- Avoid placing rabbits on slippery surfaces. Setting a towel down can help the rabbits to feel more secure.
- When putting your rabbit down, slowly squat down while holding your rabbit close, and let him/her down gently and Be careful not to let it jump out of your arms. Hold the rabbit firmly until their feet are on the ground.
There’s a lot of other benefits to handling rabbits with massage.
- It helps with behavioral issues.
- Increases range of motion.
- It Reduces tension, inflammation, and pain.
- It will Improve circulation.
- Massage Accelerates recovery.
- It Strengthens immunity.
- It is a safe and natural supplement to your rabbit’s health care.
- Rabbit Reproduction
This section will cover particularly those terms which use in rabbit reproduction that includes the process of bringing forth young ones.
The male rabbit is known as the buck.
The penis has a rounded penile sheath and urethra. It’s spotted in rabbits over two months of age.
The rabbit has two testicles that descend at approximately 12 weeks of age. These testicles are large with epididymal fat pads. In the adult male, they lie in two almost hairless scrotal sacs which are cranial to the penis (in the majority of placental mammals they lie caudal to the penis). The inguinal canal remains open throughout life.
Accessory Sex Glands
The seminal vesicles open into the prostatic section of the urethra. The bulbourethral glands are small and paired. They form a bilobed swelling in the dorsal wall of the urethra, just behind the prostate.
The female rabbit is known as the doe.
The female rabbit has a bicornuate duplex uterus. The womb has two separate uterine horns and no uterine body. Each horn has its cervix, and the two cervix open into a single vagina.
The mesometrium is a primary fat storage organ. It is very friable and contains many vessels. However, only minor anastomoses exist between the uterine and ovarian vasculature.
Puberty and Sexual Maturity
The age of sexual maturity varies with breed:
- Small breeds mature at ~5 months
- Larger breeds mature as late in as eight months.
Rabbits have induced ovulation with no well-defined oestrous cycle. The female rabbits have periods of sexual receptivity every 4-6 days and the oestrus period lasts ~14 days. Ovulation occurs within 10 hours of coitus.
Does can become quite territorial, and this needs to be taken into account when planning any matings. It is advisable to get the doe to the buck rather than the other way round.
Rabbit Reproduction – Gestation and Offspring
Fetuses may be felt by gentle abdominal palpation as early as ten days post-breeding as 1 to 1.5cm masses in the caudal ventral abdomen. At 18 days they should be 2.5 to 3cm in length.
The gestation period of a rabbit is 29-35 days.
Pseudopregnancy may occur, which lasts approximately 18 days. It can happen by infertile mating or the presence of a male nearby. The dam is unable to conceive during this time. During the pseudopregnancy, the corpus luteum secretes progesterone, which causes the uterus and mammary glands to grow.
The litter size can vary from 4-12 offspring.
The young are altricial – born hairless, deaf and blind. Offspring are entirely dependent on the mother for the first few weeks of life. They are protected from the environment and predators by the nest which is made by the doe using hair from her dewlap. If the nest is disturbed, the doe may cannibalize the offspring.
Mammary Gland and Lactation
The doe has four or five pairs of nipples. The development of mammary glands takes place in the last week of pregnancy. Suckling stimulates by a pheromone produced by a gland near the nipple.
Consumption of water and caecotrophs by the doe increases tenfold during lactation.
Rabbit milk is stronger than cow’s milk; it has an unusually low lactose content and a very high protein and fat content.
- 13% Protein
- 9% Fat
- 1% Lactose
- 2.3% minerals
The sexing of kits is best at birth or weaning (5-8 weeks of age). In between those times, it can be challenging to exteriorize the genitalia.
Sexing rabbits is performed by gentle pressure on the genital orifice which everts the penis or vulva. The male has a tubular organ with a rounded to oval-shaped urethral opening. The female vulva has a leaf-like appearance with a slit-like opening.
In the male, the testicles descend at around 12-14 weeks of age and can be palpated, although they can be retracted into the abdomen if the rabbit is stressed.
Rabbit Disease Pneumonia
Rabbit Disease Pneumonia occurs when there is a severe irritation of the lungs leading to dysfunction of the entire respiratory system. This irritation may be due to a bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infection. It may also be because the rabbit has inhaled a foreign object into its lung.
Cause: Rabbit Disease Pneumonia is caused by a bacteria or virus infection. It is usually related to other respiratory diseases or stress factors such as humid, drafty and dirty hutches.
Symptoms: High temperature, Difficult breathing, Nasal discharge and Loss of appetite.
Prevention: Control of “Snuffles” reduces chances of pneumonia. Also, remove drafts and wet conditions.
Treatment: Treatment may vary depending upon the connective agent. Probably a broad spectrum antibiotic may be helpful.
Rabbit Disease – Malocclusion “Buck teeth”
A malocclusion (Rabbit Disease) is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close.
Cause: An inherited condition categorized by excessive growth of the front teeth.
Symptoms: Lower teeth protrude and upper teeth curve into the mouth.
Prevention: Do not use rabbits with “buck teeth” for breeding purposes.
Treatment: Teeth on young rabbits can be trimmed until they reach slaughter weight.
Rabbit Disease – Pasteurellosis “Snuffles”
Pasteurellosis is an infection with a species of the bacterial genus Pasteurella. Pasteurella multocida is carried in the mouth and respiratory tract.
Cause: A chronic upper respiratory disease caused by bacterial infection.
Symptoms: Typical early signs are a nasal discharge, watery eyes, head shaking, sneezing or brisk noise in breathing and a loss of weight. While continual infection may cause rabbits to become sterile.
Prevention: Quarantine all new rabbits for a 3 week period. Cull rabbits that show continuous chronic symptoms of the disease. Also, reduce stress factors. Have good management and sanitation practices.
Treatment: Tetracycline in the feed may be effective in an uncomplicated case. For accurate treatment, the organism needs to be cultured and identified.
Rabbit Disease – Heat Exhaustion
Rabbits are more susceptible to heat stroke (a kind of Rabbit Disease) than humans. So if you are feeling hot imagine how your bunny feels. As a result, heat stroke can occur when a rabbit is exposed to high temperatures. And maybe even for a short period of time.
Cause: Due to Excessively high temperatures and high humidity, obesity, poor ventilation, insufficient water and crowding.
Symptoms: Increased respiration rate prostration. Excessive saliva discharge. Probably pregnant does and young in the nest box are most susceptible.
Prevention: Provide shade, adequate air movement, and plenty of cool water on a hot day. Wet burlap in the cage will aid in cooling.
Treatment: Rabbits suffering from heat exhaustion can be immersed in lukewarm water to reduce body temperature to the normal. Also, cool compress to the ears can be applied.
Rabbit Disease – Hutch Burn
Hutch burn, also known as urine scald, is a common bacterial disease.
Hutch burn is usually a disease of housed rabbits kept on wet or dirty flooring or secondary to urinary incontinence. Constant urine scalding results in chemical burning of the epidermis. Therefore results in secondary bacterial infections of the perineum.
Cause: Usually associated with wet and dirty hutches. Urine and fecal material cause the skin to become irritated and infected.
Symptoms: Usually, a brownish crust covers the infected area. Also, a bleeding exudate may be seen.
Prevention: Do not allow the fecal material to accumulate in the hutch.
Treatment: Keep the area clean.
Rabbit Disease – Ketosis
Ketosis is a condition characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body. They are associated with abnormal fat metabolism and diabetes mellitus.
Cause: Obesity, large litter, lack of exercise.
Symptoms: Usually occurs just before or just after kindling. Does go off feed and will not eat.
Prevention: Prevent young does from getting too fat. Also, make sure the does are eating at kindling time.
Treatment: Obesity can be prevented by limiting feed to 120 gm to 170 gm daily for does.
Rabbit Disease – Abscesses
An abscess (rabbit disease) is a collection of pus that has built up within the tissue of the body. The Signs and symptoms of abscesses include redness, pain, warmth, and swelling. When pressed the swelling may feel fluid filled.
Disease – Caked Mammary Glands
Caked Mammary Glands results when the milk is not removed sufficiently from the breast. It usually occurs after a high producing doe loses her litter, or when the breasts are sore and the doe refuses to nurse her young. The breasts become congested and hard knots may form on the sides of the nipples. These knots may break open, revealing dried milk.
Disease – Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue. Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is the primary symptom. Most animals infected with coccidia are asymptomatic, but young or immunocompromised animals may suffer severe symptoms and death.
Disease – Conjunctivitis – “Weepy Eye”
Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the inner and/or outer surface of the eyelid. It is commonly caused by either an allergic condition or a viral infection, and sometimes due to bacterial infection.
Disease – Ear Canker
Ear canker is a condition of the rabbit’s ears caused by the ear mite Psoroptes cuniculi. Psoroptes cuniculi is a common parasite of rabbits and occur worldwide. The mites irritate the lining of the ear which causes oozing serum and thick crusts to accumulate within the ear canal.
Disease – Enteritis: Diarrhea
Enteritis is inflammation of the intestine, especially the small intestine, usually accompanied by diarrhea.
Disease – Eye Infection
Rabbits can get scratches or ulcerations of their cornea from trauma or irritation from hay or bedding. Rabbits can also have eye discharge or squinting associated with an eye infection, trauma, glaucoma or a corneal ulcer.
Predator Control in Rabbit Farming
Predator attacks are more emotionally disturbing than causing direct loss to the stock. The predator can be the pets, snakes or even insects like ants. So careful management is essential to prevent losses from predators. Regular inspection of the cages and nests is an important step to keep predators under control. The nest box should be checked regularly and all the young dead bunnies should be removed regularly.
Health coverage is one of the important aspects of profitable rabbit farming. Some of the important diseases of rabbit, their symptoms and prevention / control measures to be taken will be discussed in my upcoming topic.
Care for new Born Bunny
Kindling in most cases takes place at night and generally no assistance is required. A doe gives birth to 2-12 numbers of young ones with an average of 6 in one kindling. Rabbits are born blind and naked. They start developing hair 4 days after birth and open eyes after 10 days.
For the first 20 days, the baby rabbits only food is their mother’s milk. Does nurse their kits only once a day, usually in the early morning hours for about 3 to 4 minutes.
The baby rabbits start coming out of the nest after 15-16 days and show the fondness for green grass.