Benjamin Gathii, 22, completed high school with one goal: to pursue a lifelong interest that he harboured since childhood.
As his agemates applied to join higher education, Gathii decided to venture into rabbit farming. He has never looked back and is enjoying the fruits of his labour from the profits and the satisfaction of doing what he loves.
Benjamin used the savings he had made from his pocket money while in secondary school to start off his rabbit business. According to him, rabbit farming requires just a little capital to start and run.
Gathii had to do a market survey to understand rabbit farming. He visited several farms within and outside his locality to familiarise himself with the practice. He then bought five gestating rabbits that delivered scores of bunnies in a month. That was the beginning of his journey as a farmer.
Having done his research well and identified his market, Gathii sought the fast-maturing breeds he knew were ideal for meat production.
Three years later, Benjamin has over 200 rabbits on his Rabicare farm and sells the meat to various butcheries in Nairobi. He has over 10 different breeds that include California white, Dutch, Checkered, Chinchilla, Angora rabbit, Netherlands Dwarf, Lionhead and New Zealand.
He makes at least Kshs 80,000 per month
In a month, Gathii sells at least 20 rabbits or more for Ksh3,500 each!
Customers who buy rabbit meat directly from the farm pay Ksh800 per kilogram while those who buy in bulk pay Ksh600 per kilogram.
“The money I make from my small farm is able to sustain me. I did not see the need of finding another source of income,” said Gathii.
He also sells rabbit heads, skin, urine and limbs to animal feed companies that specialise in dog and bone meals earning him extra money.
He sells the urine to farmers who use it as fertilizer and pesticide for their crops. In a day, he collects about seven litres of urine and sells each at Ksh100.
He plans to increase his bevy to over 1,000 rabbits by the end of this year and diversify his market.
Gathii said that his passion for rabbit keeping started when he was young but it’s the support from parents that has propelled him.
He adds that rabbits gain between five to six kilograms in six months but that is if they are fed properly which is about several times a day.
“I feed them at least thrice a day. The quantity and type of the food you give them largely depends on their age, weight and time of the day,” he stated.
In the morning he feeds them on pellets, dried vegetables at midday and hay later in the evening.
A flexible business
The practice, Gathii said, is not time-consuming and gives a farmer the flexibility to engage in other money-making ventures of their choice.
The main challenge he faces in his business is diseases such as ear cankers, swellings, pneumonia and coccidiosis which can be managed if diagnosed early.
He also called on the youth to start small income-generating activities that do not require huge capital instead of focusing on seeking employment.