Lazaro Tumbuti, an urban farmer in Nairobi, knows too well how having a little space at your home can change your fortunes.
The rabbit farmer, who rears the animals in Lunga Lunga, Industrial Area, keeps 80 rabbits in a tiny space that he has rented.
The 32-year-old ventured into rabbit keeping in 2019, with only four animals, a male and three females, but the number has risen to 80.
“I bought three kits from friends at Sh500 each and brought one from rural home,” reveals the farmer, who keeps California White and New Zealand White rabbits.
The farmer feeds his rabbits with vegetable waste he collects from sellers in the region. “I had tried using commercial pellets but they are very expensive from start-up,” says the farmer.
The number increased quickly, with each animal kitting up to 16 young ones. Tumbuti reveals that last year’s heavy rains took a toll on his venture, with some of his rabbits dying.
“Some developed wounds on the ears and had swollen eyes. Getting dry feeds also became a problem, making me feed them on vegetables with high moisture content, which affected mostly kits.”
Initially, his did not bother about managing the reproduction as he was keeping both the does and the bucks in the same cage, leading to inbreeding, a challenge he is grappling with now.
But he has now learnt how to control the menace by separating the females from the males. “When they are born, I wait for one month before separating the males and females,” adds Tumbuti.
The farmer sells one-and-a-half-month-old rabbits at Sh500 each and a kilo of meat for Sh650. A rabbit can gain weight of up to 3kg, which means if he slaughters it, he can earn around Sh1,750, says Tumbuti, who also uses online marketing to sell the animals.
The farmer, who has begun rearing Kienyeji chickens to increase his income, says that he pays Sh3,000 every month to the owner of the plot that he is using.
Secondary students from a nearby school, Star of Hope, visit his farm to learn more about rabbit farming.
“They also take manure and rabbit urine, which they use in farming at the school and also buy rabbits that they slaughter and use in learning,” notes Tumbuti, who also belongs to Wajukuu Arts Project, where he works as an artist.
James Chege, who works for the Wajir County government as a livestock production officer, says rabbits should have good housing to avoid diseases.
“Ensure your rabbits are properly housed in clean houses. Respiratory and digestive diseases and disorders are the most common,” says the expert.
“No two mature males should be kept in the same hutch, as this may result in regular fights that may be fatal,” he adds.
To avoid inbreeding, Chege says that a farmer should not use the same buck in breeding.
“Source new bucks and sell the males,” he says.