My fake acrylic nails survived this past week of tending to my 71 rabbits just fine, none broke. Not a nail and definitely not a rabbit.
This is not a promotional post on my manicurist, great as she is, but a post about my rabbits which are not at all pets but my real side hustle (my main hustle, as many of you already know, is to run my household).
I gave my farm-hand a week-long holiday because I figured this is the time my hutches are most empty, having made a sale of all my litter/kits a week before. I wanted to practically experience the job while it’s off-peak and I also must say that money in my pocket from the recent sale also made me a bit philanthropic so I was ready to have him rest and get my hands in the dirt. Golden dirt.
I can sense what you are mostly interested in at this point,
“Show me the money,
Show me the money!”
Ok here is a quick one about the money; a good buyer will buy a kilo of rabbit at not less than Ksh. 500 (live weight).
Only sell to the good buyer, seriously, forget your friends and relatives, unless of course if they will buy at that much, or more.
The deal with the good buyer is that you enter into a contract with them and they supply your does and bucks (mothers and fathers) and you sell your litter (grown children of the does and bucks) back to the supplier. The contract also comes with perks such as insurance and vet visits and training.
You then do the real hustle of tending to the rabbits and ignoring everyone who hears you rear rabbits and thinks of some furry pets that you stroke for fun. Finally a sweet fruitful day comes when you put the rabbits into a sack and weigh the sack, note down the kilos and at the end of the weighing you multiply the kilos by 500 and voila, there comes your kenyan shilling.
So now the work;
One; Build the hutches. Rabbits live in amazingly small spaces, my does and bucks live in a hutch that is barely 5m by 10m. Inside the hutch, subdivide into cages. The cages are in levels, so one floor space can have around three cages. One on top of the other. That is why a small hutch carries so many cages.
Two; Put in the rabbits and get into a schedule of buying hay and rabbit pellets. You will figure out how much hay and pellets you need depending on the number of your does and bucks and the seasons (for instance you will use more feeds when your litter size grows bigger, that is just before you sell off the litter)
Three; This is the part of the work I am most uncomfortable with. Because rabbits breed like “there’s-no-tomorrow”, you have to put the bucks in separate cages from the does. This also means no breeding will ever take place unless you take the doe to the buck’s cage, and give it a few minutes for it to be served before you take it back to its cage. Okay, I feel like I am infringing into animal’s rights to privacy right now. Anyway, this step has to be done or else the does would be so overworked and giving forth litter so frequently that most of your litter will be unhealthy and you would also be overwhelmed with so many kits and very few does to tend to them.
Good news After this step however is that after around a month your does will have produced kits, 4-8 kits per doe, mostly. Give the doe another month and you can take it back for another serving.
Now the daily schedule that I hacked despite my fake acrylic nails 🙂
One; Empty the urine containers. The cages are built such that urine does not pour all over the hutch floor, there are pipes that lead it to containers set outside the hutches (to avoid a smelly hutch). Use this as manure for your farm, or sell it to farmers near you. some people will tell you to drink it, please do not.
Two; Sweep inside each and every cage. This is because pieces of hay are all over and rabbits love clean places. Collect the droppings below the cages, they are useful manure.
Three; Clean with water and mop the sheet below each cage and lastly clean the entire floor of the hutch. Ensure the entire hutch smells fresh.
Four; Clean the containers inside the cages, dry them and put them back. Each cage has two containers, one for water and one for pellets. Only serve pellets in a dry container.
Five; Serve the pellets. During training, you will be shown how much pellet is enough. Too much pellet and your rabbits will die of bloating.
Six; Serve the water. In each cage, ensure there is a bowl of pellets and a bowl of water.
Seven; Prepare hay. Take a little hay and tie into a bunch using a wire string. In the afternoon, hang a bunch in each cage and refill the water and check that all your rabbits are feeding well.
If you have litter, ensure that the litter are warm and healthy. Does, I have come to know, are very much like human mothers. Some are dutiful to their litter and some will not tend to them; they will not breastfeed them nor keep them warm, but just continue with their lives despite the litter (which involves pretty much just waiting for you to serve them hay, water and pellets and take them back to the buck for another serving, ey!). Funny thing, no, weird thing, some does will eat their litter if they sense that the litter is not safe, they’d rather gobble them up than watch them die. Believe me when I tell you that this hustle is real. Always check each cage.
After four months; your litter is ready for sale. What you must know however is that the first time or the first few times you might get a few things wrong and lose a lot of rabbits, nobody warned me of that, and yes I almost closed shop when my first kits died. Learn to get yourself off the ground, like Thomas Edison would say, you have not failed, you have only discovered several ways that don’t work.
So, dear readers, that is my real side hustle. I thought to share it with you just in case you are also looking for a side hustle. And because I love you so much, I will also give you several rabbit recipes in a latter post. However, should you wish to schedule a farm visit, I shall politely require you to pay a fee…this hustle is real like that.