Dry winds blow heavily in Shigharo, Taita Taveta County, as we ride a motorbike to Esmond Mwamkita rabbit farm, about a kilometre from Wundanyi town.
Osmond, 27, keeps some 200 rabbits, an agribusiness he started in 2012.
“I went for rabbits because of the increasing demand for the animals’ products,” says Mwamkita, who sells a mature rabbit at Sh5,000, a month-old at Sh2,000 and a litre of urine at Sh500.
His passion for rabbits started when he was a little boy as the family kept the animals as pets.
After he completed high school in 2010, he attended agricultural training at Egerton University for a week where he learned a lot about rabbits. “I did not need any more convincing that I should start keeping rabbits. I knew I would get money from the animals’ meat, fur, manure and urine,” says Mwamkita.
In February 2012, he bought four California White rabbits, three females and a male from a farm in Nairobi at Sh7,000 each, money that came from his savings.
His brood has increased since then. He feeds the animals on black jack (weed), pig weed, sukuma wiki, cabbages and rabbit pellets.
Eliud Nyangala, a livestock production officer in Mwatate, says with proper feeding, a doe can give birth to up to 10 kits, with its gestation period being 31 days.
HIGH RETURNS’ VENTURE
He sells the rabbits to farmers and hotels in Wundanyi and Voi at Sh3,500 each, making in a good month over Sh50,000.
Rabbit meat is cholesterol free, therefore, good for the heart and has high percentage of digestible proteins.
His efforts saw one of his rabbits weighing 9.8kg win a prize at the Mombasa show in August.
He later sold it at Sh13,000 and another 58 went for between Sh5,000 and Sh8,000 depending on their age and weight.
“The judges were impressed with the size of the doe and were shocked that it was feeding on pellets, hay, blackjack, pig weed and sukuma wiki.”
He uses the rabbit urine on his crop farm where he grows maize, beans, cabbages, sukuma wiki and potatoes as fertiliser and insecticide.
“Rabbits have a unique behaviour of passing urine at the same position. This makes it easier for me to collect the urine as it seeps through the wire mesh floor into corrugated plastic container to the gutter and finally to the bucket.”
Esmond attends regular training at the Ministry of Agriculture, Taveta centre and one of the things he has learnt is how to keep the hutches clean.
“I clean them twice a day to prevent the spread of diseases such as diarrhoea,” he says. He regularly buys a new buck to prevent inbreeding which could lead to production of weak kits.
CREDIT: Seeds Of Gold