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    Rabbit keeping opens route to organic farming, fertiliser and pest control

    rabbits1Rabbit byproducts, urine and manure, are taking off as alternatives and supplements to inorganic fertiliser and pesticides for farmers who are shifting to organic production to meet growing demand for chemical-free crops and livestock.

    Rabbit byproducts, urine and manure, are taking off as alternatives and supplements to inorganic fertiliser and pesticides for farmers who are shifting to organic production to meet growing demand for chemical-free crops and livestock.
    Rabbits are ideal farm mammals for smallholders and in urban setups: they occupy very little space, requiring just a 6×2×2 ft hutch; eat very little at ½ to a cup of pellets and a cup of greens for every 1.8 Kg of their weight; and, unlike most farm animals, such as poultry, rabbits stop feeding once they are sated. They also drink less water than almost all other domestic animals.

    RELATED CONTENT:Thika company urgently looking for rabbits to meet rising meat demand

     Overall, rabbits are hardy and easily adaptable to almost all environment types and extremes.

    However, farmers are also now becoming more interested in their byproducts as consumer demand for organic crops raises new challenges in finding organic fertilisers and means of pest control.


    When mature, at four months and older, a rabbit can produce up to ¼ liter urine in a day. The nitrogenous waste concentration in their urine is high, because they drink very little water in relation to other animals.

    RELATED CONTENT:Man builds rabbits empire single-handedly despite financial challenges

    The waste of rabbits fed on greens are richer still in primary nutrients, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which are all prerequisites for healthy plants.

    However, in that rabbit urine is highly concentrated, its direct application can burn crops. A 1:5 urine to water ratio has been proved to be most effective.

    To keep the urine as a fertilizer for longer use as molasses, leave the concoction to ferment for 3 weeks before diluting 1-part urine to 20 parts water.

    Rabbit urine as an organic fertiliser also acts to ward off rather than kill plant insect pests such as mites, leaf burrowers and bugs.

    RELATED CONTENT:Company contracting farmers to rear rabbits

     For its part, rabbit manures’ odorless, compacted and dry making it an ideal fertilizer too. Just like the rabbit urine, it is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, which work to enhance plant growth. Moreover, unlike other dung, even when directly applied without composting from the hutch it doesn’t scorch plants.

    Compared to cow dung, rabbit manure has four times the nutrients. It also adds double the value to soil that chicken manure does. Indeed, some companies, such as Kikaboni Aquaponics Farm in Kiserian, are now rearing free range rabbits solely to serve greenhouse grown crops.

    Rabbits are additionally a cheap protein source. However, as a means of moving to organic farming. rabbit keeping enables cheaper production and with proper market research organic products can fetch a premium price. 

    RELATED CONTENT:Crossbreeding boosts weight of Machakos farmer’s rabbits

     Supermarkets Tuskys Karen and Carrefour outlets in both Karen and Two Rivers Mall now have organic isles.

    Meanwhile organic markets are growing, including:Organic Farmers’ Market, adjacent Hillcrest Schools on Langata road; Kid Kenya Ventures Garden Estate; Karengata Farmers’ Market, Karen;US Embassy Organic Market, which is open on Thursday; andC-SHEP Farmers Market in Rongai. 

    Online organic stores such as Kalimoni Greens, Mlango Farm, Sylvia’s basket and Bridges Organic Restaurant now offer home deliveries for all things organic.

     In addition, events such as The Kenya Organic Food Festival and Exhibition held annually offer organic producers an opportunity to showcase their wares.

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