Thrissur Cheroor Peringavu native Shaloob was fond of rabbits from a young age and has been ridiculed by both friends and family. However, when he started earning lakhs of rupees as income from his rabbit farm in Peechi, those who mocked began to appreciate him.
Shaloob started Peechi Rabbit Farm after quitting his job as a PRO in an IT company in Jebel Ali of Dubai. At present, there are 500 rabbits in his farm. His father Abdul Rahim, who initially opposed the passion for rabbits, was amazed when he saw the farm.
Shaloob used to grow 10 broiler rabbits at his home during his college days. Later, he went abroad leaving the rabbits behind. When he returned after years of long expat life, he restarted everything from the scratch. His wife Nishana and daughters Hana Hasna and Naha Nasra gave him full support.
Since taking land for lease is risky for a large enterprise, Shaloob bought 1.55 acres of land near Peechi arch gate. He spends the entire day at the farm. Two labourers are appointed for helping him in the farm. They work till 1 pm only. Shaloob himself plays the role of both owner and main worker.
Sales in units
Shaloob sells rabbits in units to the buyers. One unit consists of 10 rabbits including seven females and three males. One unit costs Rs 7000. Rabbits which produce 10 bunnies are considered as high quality rabbits. Normally, 4-12 bunnies are born in a single delivery.
At least 600 bunnies can be produced if there are 100 parent rabbits. Only 40 percent of them are sold to the breeders. Rabbit meat which is known as white meat, is sold to three star hotels. Since it is cholesterol-free, rabbit meat is healthy, Shaloob said.
Fur bed for bunnies
A rabbit takes six months to fully grow up. Its breeding period is about 28-30 days. The mother rabbit makes bed for the bunnies with its own fur. Rabbits do not require much care during delivery. The bunnies drink mother’s milk for upto 30 days. The next crossing should be done only after the lactation period ends. Otherwise, it affects the health of mother rabbit.
Rabbits are sensitive
Shaloob does not allow strangers to enter the farm. Rabbits recognise people through smells. So, they can easily sense the smell of strangers. Rabbits get extremely frightened even if a dog barks from outside which may even rise their pressure causing harm to life. This is why Shaloob keeps strangers away from farm.
Green net has been tied in the farm to regulate heat. Rabbits can bear temperature upto 33 degree Celsius. However, they have started adjusting to the weather in Kerala. There are certain tactics for holding rabbits in hand. They have to be held at the nape and supported from below.
Rabbits are fed with a mix of corn flour, soya cake, soya bran, black gram bran, sesame cake and groundnut cake for breakfast. One rabbit is fed 150 grams of this mixture. 500 gram of green grass is given in the evening. Feeding grass is cultivated in the farm itself.
A nipple system has been set up in every cage. Rabbits can suck water from it. Breakfast also can be mixed with drinking water, Shaloob said. But it is harmful to mix food in water from tank during summer.
New Zealand White
It is a hybrid variety developed by cross breeding New Zealand Red rabbits, which was brought from New Zealand to America in 1921, with Flemish Giant, American White and Angora varieties. They are featured with white fur and red eyes.
They are native to Soviet Union and are similar to New Zealand White variety. But these are larger in size and have longer hind legs. They are grey in colour.
This rabbit variety is black and white in colour and have black eyes. They weigh upto 3-4.5 kg.
Shaloob also grows Angora rabbits as pets. Their fur need to be combed. People buy them for attractive prices.
Greed pays no price
Shaloob’s advice to new comers is not to expect millions from rabbit farming from the beginning. Many expats seem to enter the business expecting huge income. But it is a slow and steady process. Shaloob says that one need to study about the breeder before studying about breeds. He had attended a six-day government course in Aluva before starting the farm.
Rabbits get a price of Rs 225-250 per kg. It is an ideal means of income for ladies also. A three-month old rabbit weighs upto 2 kg.
In order to put an end to the frauds in the sector, the merchants have formed Rabbit Farmers Development Association and are holding discussions with Meat Products of India. Merchants from other states buy rabbit meat from Kerala in wholesale.
Shaloob sells rabbits via online. Booking till July has been complete. People who arrive to visit the farm return with rabbits which affect booking. The rabbits are bought from Kodaikanal.
Doubts as a beginner
Shaloob had many doubts, especially about the diseases of rabbits, when he started the farm. He used to call the doctors upto 50 times a day. Now things have changed and people call Shaloob for clarifying doubts.
The attack of microbes is a major challenge in rabbit farming. Applying lotions can treat microbe attacks in the beginning. If not cured, syrups are given. Vaccination is taken in the final stage.