Youth turns childhood dream into money-minting venture

By Wangari Njuguna
Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Benjamin Gathii holding one of the rabbits he keeps at his Rabbicare farm in Maragua, Murang’a county. Photo/PD/Wangari Njuguna

After completing his secondary school education in 2018, Benjamin Gathii decided not to further his studies in order to pursue a venture he was passionate about, rabbit farming.

The 22-year-old says he has always loved rabbits and his childhood dream was to be a commercial rabbit farmer.

With the little savings he had made out of the pocket money given by his  parents while in school, he hatched the plan to start out the venture. 

He visited several farmers practising commercial rabbit farming from where he was able to gain basic knowledge on the practice. 

He also made it a habit to research for information on the rabbits, the best breeds, feeding and care incase of diseases from the internet, a place he said helped him understand rearing of these animals more.

“You need to have adequate information on the animals before starting to rear them,” he offers.

To start with, he bought five pregnant rabbits and in less than a month they gave him 10 of bunnies and this marked the beginning of his journey.

Gathii had already identified his market and thus, he was precise  on the breed of the rabbits to keep.

“Selecting the breed is very key, especially when you want to rear rabbits for meat,” he said.

At his Rabicare Farm based in Kaharati area in Murang’a county, Gathii has kept about 10 breeds of rabbits, among them flemish giant, New Zealand white, Dutch and Chinchilla. 

The breeds, he says, matures within a short period and gain weight quickly making them suitable for meat. 

“They gain an average of five to six kilogrammes by the time they get to six months” he explains.  

However, to ensure the rabbits gain weight, he says one has to feed them well, at least three times a day. 

The farmer says the quantity of the food you give rabbits  depends on their age and weight.

“In the morning, I feed them specially manufactured pellets for rabbits, and then they have dried vegetables at noon and hay late in the evening,” he says.  

Gathii says rabbit keeping is not so demanding and so it gives you time to attend to other chores around the home. 

When the rabbits are mature for sale, his client, who runs a rabbit butchery in Nairobi comes for them at his home. 

The selling price depends on the weight of the rabbit. One kilogramme goes for Sh500 on average. “We calculate the weight after skinning and removing the head and legs,” he notes.

The young farmer says he has joined hands with few other farmers within the area where they consolidate the rabbits for bulk selling. 

Besides selling the meat, he also sells their urine, which serve as organic folia in farms.  He collects at least seven litres in a day, which he sells at Sh100 per litre and the droppings are used as manure.

“There is no wastage as the head, skin and legs are dried and processed into bone meal for the dogs” he says. 

He also breeds rabbits for other farmers who have interest in the venture with a three-month-old bunny going for Sh1,000. Prices for older bunnies to mature rabbits vary between Sh1,500 to Sh3,500. 

Some of the common diseases, which affect the rabbits are ear cancker, mejes, pneumonia and coccidiosis all of which he says are manageable if detected in good time. 

For him, this is the best venture he could have ever thought of as the rewards are impressive and he urges other young people to follow suit to be able to make a decent living. 

He, however, urges the county government to consider establishing a rabbit slaughterhouse in the area saying this would help in boosting the practice in the area. 

The demand for rabbit meat, he says, is very high, but  people don’t know where to get it.

“If we can get such a facility and it be installed with refrigerators, people would get a common place to get the meat,” he suggests.