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Rabbit breeder makes big bucks

Six years ago, a feature in a local newsletter changed the course of Timothy Mauco’s life forever.

Unsurprisingly it is a moment the 40-year-old rabbit breeder recalls with vivid clarity.

“I started in December 2014 after reading an article in the advertiser on rabbit breeding. I was drawn to breeding by the fact that rabbits can give birth from one to 12 babies and their gestation period is only a month and also that they don’t need much space to rear,” explains the Madingwana village native.

After setting up Rabbitry, a business which started life with just four rabbits, Mauco took to the Internet to learn more about the furry mammals he intended to breed and sell.

Amongst other things, he discovered that a female rabbit can become pregnant again within a few days of giving birth and thus could potentially produce 144 babies a year.

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RABBIT SHELTER: Mauco’s farm

Seven months into the scheme and the enterprise was already completing sales.

“In 2016 I met with a couple of breeders who had just formed an association of rabbit breeders. The association is known as Botswana Rabbit Farmers Association,” says Mauco, who currently serves as the organisation’s Vice-Chairman.

With the help and advice of his newly found colleagues, Mauco further advanced his expertise in rabbit breeding.

He has used this knowledge to good effect, telling Voice Money that since setting up shop, financially the business has pretty much taken care of itself.

“I barely use my own money to buy them feed as their sales are so good that I use proceeds from sales to feed them,” he reiterates proudly.

Currently Mauco runs the business alone and has everything automated, from water drinkers to gravity feeders and the use of self-cleaning cages.

At the moment he has 25 females and five males and sells roughly 150 kits (baby rabbits) a month at P100 each.

He does not sell for meat and his clients are predominantly pet owners, usually parents buying gifts for their children. Other breeders also make up a large part of his customer base.

As with all businesses, Rabbitry is not without its challenges.

Mauco explains that rabbits are extremely susceptible to disease and thus he has to take great care his animals remain healthy. Also the feeds he uses are expensive and when there is a delay in selling stock this cost quickly mounts.

A Diploma holder in E-Technology Computing, Mauco says his initial interest in this field was logistics. However, now he predominantly uses his digital know-how to help his business in record keeping and research.

“I am still involved in logistics as well, only that I do it on a small scale,” he adds.

Reflecting on his six-year journey to date, Mauco notes that the business has experienced ‘tremendous growth’ during this period. He is now driven to ensuring the industry itself experiences similar progress in the years to come.

FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT RABBITS

*A male rabbit is called a buck, and a female is called a doe. A baby rabbit is called a kit (and not a bunny as is widely thought), which is short for kitten.

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CUTE AND CUDDLY: Rabbits
  • Rabbits have a gestation period of around 31 days. The female can have up to 10-12 kits, very rarely litters as big as 16 and as small as one.
  • Rabbits are prey animals and are rarely considered to be smart, but this reputation is not entirely fair. Your pet rabbit is far more intelligent than you might think. Rabbits are clever animals. They are strong-minded and dominant and will not do anything they don’t want to.
  • In the wild, a rabbit’s lifespan is extremely short, with only a few surviving beyond two years. However, pet rabbits typically enjoy a much longer life, with the average lifespan between 8 to 12 years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest known rabbit was as a wild rabbit in Australia named Flopsy who died a month shy of its 19th birthday.
  • Happy rabbits practice a cute behavior known as a ‘binky’: they jump up in the air and twist and spin around!
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