Rabbit rearing, earlier considered a hobby, was not looked upon as a prospective business venture.

With the trend shifting from rearing rabbits merely as pets to that of an income generation it promises to be a viable option for alleviating rural poverty among small land owners and marginal farmers,” says Dr. C.P. Robert, Programme Coordinator, CARD-Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

Venture promotion

The Institute has been promoting this venture for the past few years through several trainings, demonstrations etc. Mr. Ajay Simon, a farmer from Ranny in Pathanamthitta, started this venture with three rabbits in 2011 which died 20 days after starting, proving to be a great failure due to lack of knowledge on proper rearing methods.

The entrepreneur took this as a challenge and attended training provided by KVK and started a unit with 10 purchased rabbits — 45-day-old New Zealand White and Soviet Chinchilla varieties.

He designed his own cages and housed them in a temporary shed of 600 sq.ft constructed with poles, fishing nets covered with a silpauline sheet for roof.

“I found that rearing the animals was quite easy and decided to expand my venture. I bought 30 different varieties based on the advice of KVK experts and scientists from the rabbit rearing department of the Central Sheep and Wool Research Station in Kodaikanal,” says Mr. Simon.

The entrepreneur was given training on special attention to breeding rabbits to avoid inbreeding.

For this the entrepreneur takes the female to the bucks (male rabbits) cage and once breeding is over he takes back the female to her cage immediately.

Special care for bunnies

“The impregnated rabbit delivers after 28 to 30 days. Number of litters during each delivery varies .Sometimes it may go up to 12 bunnies whereas sometimes it may be just one bunny.

“The bunnies are given special care for 30 days and then are weaned from their mother who is then re-impregnated. In this way I get around 40 bunnies from each mother a year,” explains Mr. Ajay.

Selected bunnies are separated for breeding in future and reared for 90 days till they attain 2kg weight. Later they are sold for Rs. 200 a kg on live weight basis.

Meat is also provided on enquiry at Rs.400 a kg.

“A unit of 10 rabbits (eight female and two male) of 60 days old along with cage fitted with automatic feeding and watering system costs around 13,500. In a year a unit will be able to produce 2,000 bunnies.The potential net income from this unit after taking into account the cost incurred for feeding and management is around 35,000 to 40,000 annually,” says Dr. Robert.

Family work

All the work in the farm is done by him and his family saving on labour cost.

Everyday, early in the morning, he cleans the cages and observes the rabbits for any signs of illness. Cleaning and disinfection regularly reduces the disease incidence in the farm.

All the animals are provided concentrate feed at the rate of 100-150 gms per day based on their conditions. Lactating and pregnant rabbits are provided an additional special feed.

According to Mr. Simon, to set up a small unit of 10 rabbits an investment of Rs. 15,000 is required and in a year one can break even in this business .So, whatever is got from the second year is purely profit.

Ideal for small farmers

“We are encouraging small land owners and women in our region to take up this activity since this does not require vast land space or external labour.

“The units can be set up in the terrace or in some small space around the house. This type of vocation is soliciting a lot of interest recently as the revenue it generates is quite encouraging,” says Dr. Robert.

For more details interested farmers and entrepreneurs can contact Dr. Robert at Programme Coordinator, CARD-Krishi Vigyan Kendra ,Kolabhagoam P.O,Thadiyoor, Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, Phone: 04692662094 and 2661821 (Ext:22,12), mobile:09447139300. and Mr. Ajay Simon, Emmanuuel Rabbit Farm ,Poovenmala,Ranny, Phone:9744245009, mobile: 09497577951.