Factors affecting cuniculture in Nigeria
Cuniculture in Nigeria has not been without its setbacks, factors such as climate, disease, time and a host of others have had their turns in militating against the development of cuniculture in Nigeria. Over the years, it has been climate in one region of the country and a different factor in another. I have taken time in this post to briefly discuss the most common problems affecting rabbit production in Nigeria.
Heat is one of the most important climatic factors that have affect rabbit production in Nigeria. The rabbit is very largely dependent on respiratory evaporation for the regulation of its body temperature and this confers only a limited power of adaption to hot climates. Heat is also dissipated by radiation and convection, but these are somewhat restricted by the rabbit’s furry covering. Johnson etal, 1957 reported that short hair and larger ears helped the cooling process in New Zealand White rabbits. According to these workers, growth and development were impaired at ‘ambient’ temperatures of 28.3°C and above. Generally the higher the ambient temperature the greater was the disturbance of the rabbit’s functions. Functions like growth and fertility are severely affected. When exposed to very high temperatures, the rabbits feed to meat conversion rate drops dramatically because of an imbalance of hormones that is caused by heat stress. In addition, the male may become sterile for several weeks and the female, if pregnant, may re-ingest or abort the developing foetus at an early stage if heat stress persists. Nigeria, which is tropical, experiences such extreme temperatures which affect not only cuniculture but also poultry birds with higher mortality and disease outbreaks of national proportions recorded between November and May. It is imperative to note here that this challenge can be overcome by providing proper housing for the rabbits. Tree planting to provide natural protection is another way to smash this problem.
Reluctance to accept something new
This factor is most important in a situation where one is the first to start with rabbits is that often people are reluctant to accept something new. Whereas in Europe, Kenya and the U.S. there is a well-established market for rabbit meat, in the tropics the market becomes more and more organized for chickens; there are few countries with a ready market for rabbit meat. This however, does not deter me and many others from our continued efforts to promote cuniculture as a sustainable venture and tool for alleviating poverty and malnutrition, especially in countries like Nigeria with population outburst.
Throughout the world, cuniculture has been acclaimed as a more sustainable means of producing meat for earthlings. Nigeria with its enormous unproductive population is a perfect ground for launching cuniculture projects of industrial proportion to provide jobs, cheap and quality nutrition, eco/plant friendly farm inputs like fertilizer and insecticides, which are the dearest needs of the population at the time of writing this and will continue to be if timely action is not taken.
Diseases are common and unlike chickens, specific rabbit medicines are not easily available in Nigeria. Moreover, veterinarians in the country do not usually have much experience in the diagnosis and treatment of rabbit diseases. On the other hand, with good hygiene and common sense, added to information found on this blog one should not have too many worries about diseases. Most animals get sick occasionally, and a dead rabbit is less of a worry than a dead goat or cow.
Read also: Rabbit pregnancy,birth and baby care
Keeping rabbits will certainly take up some of your time. In general, it is hard to say how much. It depends on the number of animals you keep, the housing system and the way you are able to obtain feed. For example, keeping 5 to 10 rabbits will take you about 1 to 2 hours a day for cleaning, managing and feeding.
Unfortunately, being busy about everything and doing nothing to take Nigeria out of failure is the new culture being cultivated in Nigeria, from the so called rich down to the street boys. It’s an irony! Unproductive time wasting attitude of the people, one, but not the least factor militating against cuniculture in Nigeria
Make routine checks on the health of your rabbits: Check their nose, eyelids, ear edges for little crust (mange) and inside their ears for ear mites. Check their droppings; is it dry or pasty? Check their front legs as certain coughs produce a kind of mucus, which then makes the front legs dirty. Check their cages for strong smells; diarrhea often causes a dirty smell.
Keep the building and the cages clean and dry; clean them every day. Clean the cages from any lose hair. If you suspect any disease, disinfect the cages immediately. Clean the floor of the stable once every week with disinfectant.
- Keep any animals (especially cats and dogs) droppings away from them.
- Do not let any of the rabbits droppings come into contact with food and water.
- Separate any rabbits you suspect are sick or becoming ill.
- Clean fresh air in the building is essential; a strong manure smell is not good for them and can cause respiratory problems. If you can the smell the ammonia, the rabbits most definitely can.
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