Status and Constraints in Farming of Domesticated Rabbits in Western and North Rift Kenya
Rabbit farming is recognised as an important enterprise. Domestic rabbits are raised mainly for meat in major parts of the world. Domesticated rabbit farming in Africa has a challenge of low meat production and mostly done by resource poor and low-income farmers. The study covered the Western and North Rift regions of Kenya using exploratory research design to generate the required information targeting 112 rabbit farmers. The study used both stratified and systematic sampling basing on different Agro Ecological Zones. Farmers were obtained through snow balling technique using structured questionnaires. Data collected was analysed using SPSS (version 20). Majority of the respondents (56.3%) were males aged below 36 years (96.4%) and had formal education. Main breeds for meat were New Zealand White 48 (43.6%) and Flemish giant 22 (20.0%), while palomino was least kept with a statistically significant difference (χ2 = 84.24, d.f.=6, p<0.0001). Most rabbits were reared in cages 90(86.5%) (p< 0.0001) measuring 1.5m by 1.5m (68.3%) raised about a metre high serving as anti-predation tactics. Breeding stock were sourced from fellow farmers (85.5%). Rabbits aged three months were sold at an average price of Ksh.200 while those over five at 1200. A large proportion of farmers indicated they never cleaned rabbit houses 57 (50.9%). Main rabbit feed was vegetables from farms 68(60.7% rarely supplemented with Pellets 23(76.7%). Rabbits encountered diarrhoea and skin diseases 12(10.7%), predators 68(60.7%), thieves 14(14.3%), sudden deaths, and high costs of building materials with a significant difference (χ2 = 121.818 with 4 d.f. P-Value = 0.0001) Rearing practices and challenges differed from each. The study concluded that more awareness be created on the need to keep rabbits for income. Research and training on rabbit management and marketing is needed to support the growth of rabbitry in the regions.
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