Commercial rabbit farmers can now monitor the health and performance of their herd remotely thanks to a web and mobile based tool that tracks the animals' progress, from weaning, kindling or nesting while connecting the farmers to ready markets.
Dubbed Rabbitiq, the platform also provides a round the clock veterinary support to the farmers.
Farmers register their rabbits details online at www.rabbitiq.com, and key in all details of each of their rabbit including location of the farm, age of the rabbit, breed, when the rabbits will deliver, if they are expectant and when they are due for sale. Upon registration, the platform generates a unique code for each rabbit which the farmer then inserts as an ear tag to each rabbit. This then generates updates and alert to the farmer through the SMS.
“This has come to address a major challenge of trying to give personalized attention to rabbits especially to farmers who are doing it commercially. Paper work is tedious, and since farmers are doing it for business, they need first to have the healthiest and most attractive breed that will attract buyers, and also find prompt and sustainable markets,” said Derrick Muturi the brains behind rabbitIq and a rabbit farmer.
Owning over 100 rabbits, Muturi struggled with tracking individual progress and would miss key dates in the rabbits cycle. “I got into this commercially so it meant I wanted to make the most out of it. But I couldnt keep up with managing all of them. Paper work was so cumbersome, and I could see I was losing a lot,” Muturi said.
Working with 24 farmers spanning Nairobi, Busia, Mombasa and Nyeri, rabbitiq is also addressing a major concern for rabbit farmers, that of effectively managing rabbit diseases which are contagious and spread fast due to rearing of the rabbits in close proximity to each other. “When farmers key in the details of the rabbit, they create a profile of the rabbit meaning important practices like whnen the rabbit should be dewormed or when a veterinarian is neeeded are not skipped,” Muturi said.
The tool has gone further by creating an online market place where farmers can transact and prospective buyers can place orders.
Inspired by the response Muturi is getting from farmers, he now hopes to replicate this model to pig and chicken farming. “These are two others areas where this model fits perfectly especially because first farmers manage a large herd and secondly individual livestock doesnt get enough attention. With this tool this can now be possible,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that there are currently 600,000 rabbits being reared in the country, majority for commercial purposes, a departure from tradition where rabbit rearing was treated as a passtime for teenage boys.
The growing local and international market for rabbit, due to its nutritional value, high in protein and low in fat, compared to other meat has inspired a fanatical rearing. The fur is also highly valued in the textile industry and especially for making garments for people with joint diseases like arthritis.
It's rearing has become particularly key in the recent past, as vagaries in weather takes a toll on traditional animal rearing and crop production. The rabbits also occupy little space compared to other animals and their manure is superior in nourishing crops compared to manure from other animals. “Demand for the rabbit meat and fur is global and companies are pitching tent in the country to encourage farmers and offering them a ready market. The catch therefore is effective management of each rabbit,” said Muturi.
Interested farmers can register their rabbit details by visiting www.rabbitiq.com.