How to Start and Succeed in Grasscutter Farming; There are plenty of great reasons why Grasscutter farming is growingly acquiring popularity in Africa. Grasscutter also known as greater Cane Rat is a member of the rodent family and is very closely connected to the porcupine. They resemble, but the porcupine is larger. The spiny fur on the back and rounded nose place a difference between Grasscutters and true rats. It gets to a length of about 720 mm when it is fully matured. Grasscutter farming will produce for you a minimum of N3million annually if you manage it seriously.
Definition of Grasscutter Farming
Grasscutter farming is the breeding of grasscutters for domestic and commercial use. In the beginning, grasscutters were not bred on farmlands. They were normally hunted down, caught, and then sales made to buyers. But the persistent characteristics of discomfort in hunting these rodents brought about the practice of breeding grasscutters.
Business Chances In Grasscutter Farming Around The Globe
Having about 80,000 tons of grasscutter meat consumed each year in Nigeria, only 0.2 % of these tons are domestically farmed grasscutters. Here are two fundamental chances in grasscutter farming:
1). Meat Source:
Grasscutters are a valuable meat source for a lot of households in sub-saharan Africa. The nutritional and non-availability nature of their meats does not just provide protein to complement Africa’s popular starch dinners, but also give rise to people placing high values on them, thus increasing their value of cost in the market.
Because grasscutter meats are not constant market items that can be spotted easily, their scarcity brings increment in their prices; mainly in Latin America and Asia, where grasscutter meat if handy, are greatly preferred above most types of meats, due to its low fat, low cholesterol, and high protein content. This creates the market need for the grasscutter meats eventually far exceeding its supply.
2). Health Benefits:
Grasscutters possess medicinal benefits, as a result of their pancreas which possesses a rich concentration of insulin made use of in the treatment of diabetes. This key benefit makes grasscutters a major piece of the manufacturing process some pharmaceutical companies utilize in producing diabetes drugs.
The intake of grasscutter meat also possesses great health advantages for hypertensive patients.
Benefits Derived From Grasscutter Farming
1). Health Benefits.
2). Great Source Of Protein.
3). Can be reared at home.
4). Source Of Income And Employment.
5). Feeding Them Is Extremely Cheap (can be grass only).
6). Cheaper to run than poultry, fish, or pig farming.
7). They sell at great prices.
8). They can be pets.
9). More Demand Than Available Supply.
Appropriate Species For Grasscutter Farming
1). Thryonomys Swinderianus (T.S):
The Thryonomys Swinderianus, also referred to as the Greater Cane Rat, are the main known types of grasscutters bred in West Africa, mostly Nigeria and Ghana. They are generally big and weigh an average of 8.6kg per animal. These grasscutters are of two categories. The smaller categories are discovered in the forest zone, while the larger categories are mostly discovered in the savannah regions and are lighter in colour.
They exist in small groups piloted by a male, assemble nests from grasses or make a hole underground, are active at night, and can exist for more than four years. They are a member of a small family of the African hystricognath rodents.
2). Thryonomys Gregorianus (T.G.):
The Thryonomys Gregorianus, also referred to as the Lesser Cane Rat, are a kind of rodents in the family Thryonomyidae. These species of grasscutters are smaller in size than the Thryonomys Swinderianus, and they usually weigh about 7.5 kg. They are mainly discovered and bred in Central and East African countries such as Cameroon, Chad, Congo, and the other countries in the same region.
These grasscutters most times possess bristle-like coarse hair which lies flat against the body of the grasscutters. They possess ears which are small and almost hidden in their furs, bare palms, strong claws and long feet with functioning toes. They possess backs and sides which are mostly greyish-white or yellowish, and their tails possess scales, few bristles, which is brown on top, and white below.
Male grasscutters are usually larger than their female counterparts.
Factors to Consider on How to Start and Succeed in Grasscutting Farming
Considerations ought to be made to the following factors on How to Start and Succeed in Grasscutter Farming. These considerations amongst other things include:
1. Make a business plan for your grasscutter farming business
Do to every business possession of a plan, so should your grasscutter farming business possess one too. You should establish a business plan which will encompass and take record of all your numbers of grasscutters purchased, amount of money to be utilized on grasscutters purchased, feeding, housing facilities and other management practices.
2. Set up your grasscutter housing facilities/pen
The house or pen of the grasscutter has to be built to an adequate spacious standard. In setting it up, you must separate the region they sleep from the region they perform any other form of activity. This is very imperative because grasscutters dislike sleeping where they feed. When putting grasscutters in their houses, you should make sure that each unit would be composed of about 1 male to 4 to 6 females. Two adult males which are fully grown cannot reside together and would be fighting until one dies. But by putting a male to about four females in a unit of the cage, you will be rest assured that they would live in peace and encounter a rate of upscale replica.
In building the cages of your grasscutter, make sure you follow a close measurement of 180cm in length, 60cm in width, and 45cm in height. The houses or pens should all contain distinct grasscutter units and be constructed in such a manner that the temperature is constantly stable every time. In addition, the units ought to be kept secured from potential pests like soldier ants, snakes, and humans. To be sure that the ants don’t get access at all inside the pen, pour engine oils around the pens and keep the areas close; especially in the entire rainy season.
3. Purchase the right grasscutter for breeding
When you have your pen or cage is ready for stocking and breeding, the next move to make is to purchase or select the breed for your grasscutter.
If you want to achieve a successful grasscutter farming business, then a random selection of the grasscutters must not be made.
Rather, your grasscutter should be selected by weight. The same size of weight should be applied to the females for selection and you should also keep away from weight differences of which are greater than 500g. In line with the male grasscutter, it should be 0.5 to 1 kg heavier than the female counterparts.
Males are usually identified by their brown genitals and wrinkles while the female grasscutters are identified by the nearness of the anus to the genital region and also for grasscutters which are young, the male can also be identified by the gap between the genitals region and the anus, which is about twice bigger than that of the young female counterpart.
4. Feeding of the Grasscutters
Grasscutter belongs to the category of herbivorous animals signifying that their food source is primarily from the bush, that’s the reason for their more comfort in the bush where their foods could easily be discovered. Their main food is Napier or Elephant grass. They also in love with Sugarcane (and majority of farmers utilize sugar cane majorly for their feeding), Congo grass, Guinea grass, and Gamba grass.
Farmers who are experienced have advocated that hygiene and good feeding are the major imperative elements for profitable, successful Grasscutter farming. The weight of the male can also be fattened with broiler’s finisher or broiler starter’s feed to aid achieve market weight within a short possible time.
Grasscutters also like to consume Gliricidia sepium, herbaceous legumes such as Stylo (Stylosanthes gracilis) and Pueraria phaseoloides. Their excitement includes the root and pitch of coconut and oil palms, bark of the anacardium plus fruits such as half ripen pawpaw, mago, pineapple, plantain etc. Food crops like maize, rice, groundnut, grain legume, tubers such as sweet potato, cassava, etc also constitute part of their food, said the grasscutter farmer.
The grasscutter farmer also mentioned that grasscutters consume palm wine and that is the reason why they destroy the plantations of oil palm. Their water is usually taken from the field and they only go to the river during the dry season. However, when they are domesticated, water can be given to them by including some attractant to it. It should be noted that Cane rate, a type of grasscutter, does not dig a hole and can neither climb a tree, he further pointed.
Grasscutters can also feed on formulated concentrates such as pellet and other processing by-products such as corn bran, oilseed, cotton seed cakes, brewer yeast, cobs and maize shucks, wheat bran, groundnut, soya, grain legume pods, brewers’ grains, brewer’s yeast etc as feed supplements.
Grasscutters are not friendly with cold environments. The cages or pens where you keep them should never be too hot or too cold. Human suitable environments are considered to be suitable for grasscutters.
Time of weaning – When there is adequate and good feeding, the kids of grasscutters should be weaned between four to eight weeks. But being a family, they can stay with the mother for a period of four months. The kids can, however, be kept away from the mother between five to seven months and kept with a male for mating with them.
The weaned grasscutters are capable of being mated from birth at the age which is between seven to eight months. At the period when the weaned male is seven months old and the female is eight months old, indefinite mating is anticipated to have taken effect. The period for the indefinite mating is 140days. However, if after separation period of 160 days from the male, there is still no pregnancy sign, then the female grasscutter should be taken back for perfect mating to the male. Most times, there should also be an additional male that can perform the same mating task.
5. Grasscutter Growth
A healthy matured grasscutter weighing about 4-4.5kg in respect of a male body weight and a body weight of 3-3.5kg in respect of a female can be ready for market but you won’t desire to sell them off like that in the absence of not having them produce offspring for you; You will waste money if you have to go back and buy other additional ones.
Allow them to reproduce new offspring.
6. Grasscutter Breeding and Reproduction
Grasscutter is usually reared100% for the meat, and it needs to grow well and healthy so as to be financially rewarding. To attain this, new farmers are required to consider the choice of breeding stock. Each unit is required to have a very healthy male. The male is the bedrock for reproduction, and a healthy male brings about a healthy stock. While carefully choosing the male, attention should be paid on the well being. Also good weight gain in male animals is a very imperative feature that determines how healthy the male is.
Whichever case, both the male and female stock you are choosing for the purpose of breeding have got to be healthy. While for breeding programs, a strong, agile, healthy male animal should be carefully chosen, the female must be genetically healthy too, otherwise, the breeding stocks will be affected. To be certain that you attain the best possible result, both the male and female have to be healthy.
7. Pest and Diseases that Could Affect Your Grasscutters
- Ensure you check your grasscutter always for any signs of sickness such as refusal to eat, social withdrawal, soft or watery feces, coughing, looking dull, any inflammation of the body part, etc.
- Ensure you clean the cage or pen always via using detergent, bleach to disinfect it and keep it clean.
- Ensure you give them nutrients that will boost them and improve their immune system always. When you notice any sign of weakness or when they pass through stress, lemon and sugar can be mixed in their water. The direction of mixture should be about 50 sugar lumps and two big glasses of pure lemon juice put into 20-25 liters of water.
- Ensure you wash the feeding and drinking trough at least once in a week in rder to prevent the spread of germs.
- Always distinct the sick grasscutters from the healthy ones for close observation.
- Ensure you dispose of any dead grasscutter immediately.
- Administer some antibiotics to the grasscutter sometimes for prevention of diseases.
- Block every possible spot or loophole where snake, rats or hawks (which can be a predator to the growth of your grasscutters) can enter from.
- Consult a veterinarian for assistance.
- On handling cases of the grasscutter- For young or light animal; it is lifted from the tail via holding at the base of the tail, then carefully hold its back with your other hand. For a medium-sized animal; it can also be grabbed by the tail but it is best to grab it from the back with your other hand so that there won’t be too much weight on the tail. For heavy animal; it ought to be carried by means of the squeeze cage.
- Ensure the appropriate keeping of record of every number of grasscutter both dead and alive, the quantity of food taken, the number of medication taken. This will help in the keeping of your profit or gain record.
- Always ensure that there is enough ventilation and normal temperature in the room.
8. The Market For Grasscutters
The market for grasscutter is very large. The meat of grasscutter or bushmeat is presumably the most attractive animal meat in the market. People love it and it sells very speedily. Big restaurants utilize it in preparing delicacies which are highly priced. The full meat of a large Grasscutter costs about N4,500 in the market and the market women who deal on grasscutters are always demanding for it.
A lot of people in the city can’t buy the meat because of its scarcity, so no quantity of Grasscutter you breed that can’t be sold within days. It will involve combined endeavours of thousands of farmers to satisfy the need for bushmeat in the market right now.
On how to start and succeed in grasscutter farming business, one should consider the fact that grasscutter is a rapid reproducing animal and begins mating at 7 months after birth. It reproduces twice yearly and yields 4-7 at a time. That signifies that, if you possess 100 females that reproduce twice a year, you would be getting 900 to 1,500 in your farm within just a year! Such number of grasscutters will yield you nothing less than N5 Million when get matured for marketing.