Rabbit farming in Meghalaya: Scope and benefits

By Serene Roy Lakuna & Cheasa N. Sangma

The cost of construction of scientific rabbit rearing house was more and not affordable by small and marginal farmers. In the recent past, some of the farmers of the West Garo Hills District had innovated the low cost rabbit rearing house and cage to save labour and time as well as to earn more profit. We can also use low cost bamboo house with thatch roofing and bamboo cage for rearing of rabbit.

Rabbit husbandry has a vast potential to improve the socio-economic status of the poor especially in the rural areas and provides food security in terms of low cost protein. One of the major role of rabbit breeding is to improve the food and nutrition requirement in developing countries. The meat is nutritious and there are few social, cultural and religious restricting against it. One of the great challenges globally is the food security. With the growing population the demand for food is also increased.
Feeding and Housing: Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are primary monogastric herbivores animals and consume common type of grains and pulses (sorghum, gram, wheat, etc), legumes( Alfalfa, Burseem, etc), and even kitchen waste and garden vegetables. The meat of rabbit is known as ‘white meat’ as it rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acids. It is easily digestible also.
Housing is an important factor and mostly depends on the climate, location and size of the farm. There should be proper cages or hutches and arrangement for feeding,watering and cleaning. We can also use locally available materials in backyard rabbitry like tin cans, bamboos, old boxes, bricks, asbestos sheets, etc. The floor and walls may be katcha.
The cost of construction of scientific rabbit rearing house was more and not affordable by small and marginal farmers. In the recent past, some of the farmers of the West Garo Hills District had innovated the low cost rabbit rearing house and cage to save labour and time as well as to earn more profit. We can also use low cost bamboo house with thatch roofing and bamboo cage for rearing of rabbit.
Scope: The North-Eastern people are mostly non-vegetarian and people are free from taboos regarding the consumption of meat.
It will increase the employment opportunities for young people and provide an extra source of income.
Rabbit farming is a flexible business, suited to both small-scale(backyard) and to large-scale commercial production.
It is highly profitable and less laborious as compared to other livestock farming and requires less space also.
Benefits of Rabbit Farming: The rabbit is the only farm animal that produces meat via offspring ten to fifteen times more of its own weight in a year.
Compared with the meat of other species rabbit meat is richer in protein(21%) and vitamin but less fat(8%).It is also rich in minerals like calcium and potassium.
Their single meal size is conveniently small, thus avoiding the need for storage.
The growth rate is very high reaching a market weight of about 2 kg at 12 weeks of age.
Rabbits convert forage into meat more efficiently than ruminant animal such as cattle and sheep.
Besides meat, rabbits are a source of fur and skin and even as laboratory animal. The Angora breed of rabbit produce high quality of fine wool which can be mixed with silk, nylon, rayon, sheep wool and other fibres to make good quality handloom apparels.
Financial Assistance: NABARD( National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) play an important role in the field of agricultural credit.
Conclusion: In Meghalaya, the weather and climate is suitable for commercial rabbit farming and also for rearing as pets. Some of the breeds available in Meghalaya are Soviet Chinchilla, New Zealand White and Grey Giant to name a few. It is a good source of income throughout the year. We can motivate the youth to give importance to rabbit farming as it will help them in their livelihood. The Animal Husbandry Department, Veterinary or ICAR Institutes can be contacted by interested farmers.
(The writers are 1st Year B.V.Sc & A.H. students College of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, Jalukie, Peren ,Nagaland)

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