Recently, we caught up with Shamari at his rabbit farm in German Town, St. James. Shamari, who is just 16 has always had an affinity towards animals, rabbits in particular. He decided to turn his passion into a business and thus his rabbit farm was established. It didn’t start out smoothly for him though. His first two rabbits were eaten by dogs. His third, a pregnant doe died suddenly. Again he tried, this time the pregnant doe had the litter but she ate them! Even after so many failed attempts, Shamari tried once more and succeeded.
Now Shamari has about 79 rabbits and hopes to have 200 soon. He introduced us to the New Zealand White, Albion and Blue Flemish.
Shamari offered some advice on what he thinks the 12 tips to successful rabbit rearing are. Let’s take a look.
Don’t Overfeed the Rabbits - Rabbits should be fed no more than 3 times daily. Overfeeding can cause the rabbits to become overweight. Check for lumps under the chin if you think they are.
Ensure Proper House/Coop - A safe place to live is important! Ensure the coop can withstand the rain and keep out the cold while offering proper ventilation to all the rabbits. Decide whether you are rearing rabbits for pets or commercial purposes and build the coop accordingly.
Be Prepared to Learn - Get advice from those who have had many years of experience and YouTube videos and documentaries are important as well. Don’t rush into rabbit rearing without some knowledge of how it is done.
Check Rabbit Health Daily - You should check the rabbits in the morning to see if they have developed a cough, fungus or other diseases overnight. This can usually be seen if the rabbit is weak, sleepy more than normal or has lost weight. You must also ensure the rabbits aren’t lonely. One good way to help this is to build the coop with transparent material for separation, like mesh instead of wood. This way they can still see each other. Try to visit your rabbits and pet them as often as possible.
Feed Rabbits on Mainly Grass or Hay - Water Grass and Spanish Needle are the recommended plants for rabbits to eat. Cabbages and callaloo are good for feeding as well as fruits (ripe bananas, June Plums, Papayas) but only a moderate amount. Ground provisions (yams, green bananas) can also be used, however, avoid adding oil or butter to the pot.
Create a Feeding Routine - And stick to it. The diet of a rabbit is very important to their overall health.
Limit the Amount of Human Food - While it is okay to give rabbits a small amount of human food, it should be done in moderation.
Feed Pregnant Rabbits With Milk Thistle - This helps pregnant does with milk production. Rabbits can have up to 12 babies at once, having enough milk for everyone is important.
Be Prepared for Lots of babies - Rabbits pregnancy only lasts a month and they usually wean their babies within 6-8 weeks. Make adequate preparation for all the young rabbits to ensure that they are safe.
Keep the Babies Warm - Interestingly, rabbits are not born with fur. That’s something I didn’t know before! To keep them warm, the mother sheds her fur to lay over them. If the rabbit doesn’t shed enough fur, you can use shredded paper as a substitute. Cotton, although it may look like a good substitute, is not recommended.
Consider Milk Supplements - Sometimes, new mothers especially, refuse to feed the babies or may not produce enough milk for them all. Milk supplements may have to be used in this case. It’s best to get this at a reputable farm or pet store.
Shamari also answered a few frequently asked questions when it comes to rabbits.
Question: Can rabbits eat carrots? Answer: Yes, they can.
Question: Is the rabbit's favourite treat really a carrot? Answer: While they quite like carrots, they prefer ripe bananas
Question: Do rabbits bite? If they feel aggravated or threatened, then yes they will bite.
It was great to see Shamari at such a young age having his own business and doing something he is so passionate about. If you need to contact Shamari, you can do so by visiting his Instagram: @Shamari_rabbitryfarm or contact him via phone/WhatsApp: 876-460-9818.
You can check out this video to see even more about his farm. Tania from Chat Jamaican With Tania was also a part of this video!
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