Backyard Rabbit Rearing: A Viable Option for Resource Poor Farmers

D.Puthira Prathap and K.Narayanan

In recent years there has been rising global awareness on the virtues of rabbit meat production in developing countries as an alternative means of alleviating their food shortages. Rabbit rearing, per se, involves high capital and operating costs. Due to this, resource poor farmers, apprehensive of the risks involved in this relatively new enterprise, have not ventured in a big way.  However, back yard rabbit rearing is a suitable option for those farmers who lack in resources like space, cash and labour.

Backyard Rabbit Rearing – A Family Enterprise

As a backyard activity it is best suited, as rabbits are quiet, odourless and docile animals. Often they are unnoticed by neighbours, even in residential areas. Of the various meat breeds available in India, White Giants, Soviet Chinchillas and New Zealand Whites were found to have many desirable traits, such as rapid growth rate, good carcass quality and good prolificacy. A unit of three does (female rabbits) and a buck (male rabbit) of a broiler breed, can be raised in inexpensive sheds, using garden produce, kitchen waste and supplemented by other feeds and wastes which otherwise may not be used. The time or labour required to raise rabbits can be around 10 hours per breeding doe in an year. For the backyard operation with three breeding does, this labour input relates to less than 10 minutes per day which can be conveniently contributed by the family itself.

 Integration into traditional farming

Rabbits that are raised in backyards can be strongly integrated into traditional farming practices. This entails the recycling of garden produce as rabbit feed and the conversion of rabbit manure into compost for enhancing the soil. This integrative approach is an effective means by which investment on animal feed and fertilizer can be minimized. In some countries of Africa, rabbits are housed over fish-ponds, whereby, blue-green algae production is increased due to rabbit droppings, thereby, enhancing fish harvests, while rabbits are fed on inexpensive forage and/or garden wastes grown along the pond banks.

 Rabbit Products and their use

The manure from rabbits is rich in organic matter and nutrients and makes excellent compost. On a dry matter basis, rabbit manure contains 2.7% of nitrogen, 1.5% of phosphoric acid and 1.5% of potash. Rabbit meat is high in protein, low in fat, sodium and cholesterol as compared to beef, mutton, chevon, pork and poultry and thus the meat has been recommended by physicians to diabetic patients and to those with coronary heart conditions. Hats, rugs and toys are some of the value-added products obtained from rabbit skins.


In India, where rabbit rearing is still in its infancy, farmers can go for backyard rabbit rearing with minimal capital investment. Experiences of various countries such as Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria and China have shown that small-scale rabbit enterprises have been very successful. Hence more emphasis needs to be given on the research and extension priorities for backyard rabbit rearing.


Scientists, Southern Regional Research Centre, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (ICAR), Mannavanur, Kodaikanal – 624 103

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