Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rabbit keeping amidst climate change adaptation

Climate change is believed to be pushing human population to adapt to other livelihood means other than the usual traditionally known for each community. Small stock keeping has been the only option left for pastoral communities which used to hold on to large heads of livestock. Due to land degradation systems and reduced rainfall amounts, having access to  quality pasture has been a night mare and therefore the animals have either died or reduced their body conformation to sizes which fetch very low market prices or otherwise give low quality meat.
Adapting to the new means of livelihoods has not been easy for the communities and it may take them some time to fully adapt to these changes. Some have opted to go for poultry farming, fish farming, rabbit keeping and or bee keeping while others are keeping dairy goats for milk production as these activities doesn’t require their full attention and give them time to do other activities as well.

Mrs. Esther Wateri or ‘Mama Wamboi’ as they call her turned to rabbit keeping following a visit to home where she found her brothers making a kill out of rabbit keeping. “On March 2011, I visited my home in kikuyu and found many of my relatives keeping rabbit and some buyers coming to buy as many as 50 pieces of mature ones at Kshs 2,500 for supplying big hotels in Nairobi and therefore I was motivated to engage in the enterprise…,” she said.
Mrs. Wateri feeding her rabbits
She begun to search for more information on rabbit keeping and she therefore visited the Maarifa centre to learn more on rabbit keeping and their diseases, housing and general management.  
“I borrowed a book from the Maarifa centre on backyard rabbit farming in the tropics and this gave me information that I wanted to start the enterprise..,” she said. She begun with two does and one buck and now she has 15.

“I chose rabbit keeping because they are easy to manage and are less prone to diseases… Their feeds are also locally available and they litter quickly since their gestation period is only two months and one doe can litter up to 12 kindles…”
Her enterprise has not left her without challenges. “Feeding and cleaning their houses takes me a lot of time though my children help me to collect feeds after school. Once I secure a market for the product, I’m planning to employ a person to look after them… I have lost 9 kindles over the last two months as a result of wet feeds and when I referred to the book realized the problem and changed the feed, there have been no more deaths since,” she added.
Rabbits feeding on supplement pellets
She anticipates selling breeding stock to her neighbours so that when she gets a bigger market, she can buy from them. She also admits that people need to familiarize themselves with other sources of meat adding that, rabbit meat is tasty and is low in cholesterol.

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