How can one start grasscutter farming in Nigeria?
Many people are probably interested in this business and don’t know how to go about it. So, let’s find out in this article how to go about it.
What is Grasscutter Farming?
Grasscutter farming is the act of rearing or breeding grasscutters; micro livestock, for agricultural and commercial purposes. This wonderful act has proven to be a great source of income both to the individual and the economy at large.
In the global market, the demand for grasscutter meat is relatively high. It is no wonder that Grasscutter breeding has rapidly expanded over a considerably short period of time in Nigeria.
So what exactly does grasscutter farming entail? How much does it cost to start up this grasscutter farming in Nigeria? What are the dangers involved? Well, these questions and many more will be answered as we go further, but first, we have to answer the question;
What is Grasscutter?
A grass cutter, also known by its scientific name as Thyronomys Swinderianus, is small-sized livestock (micro livestock) that is known for its adaptability to tropical vegetation and are usually located in mangroves, savannas, rainforests and swamps.
The grasscutter, in its early stages of development, feeds on milk from the Doe for six weeks. When it matures, it feeds on elephant grass, cassava roots, maize stem, rice, millet, sugarcane and other vegetation.
They generally require little food and water when compared to many other livestock.
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Things To Consider When Starting A Grasscutter Farming Business.
There are so many factors at play that combine to lead a grasscutter business to the Promised Land or to perdition. The grasscutter farming business, while very lucrative, has its fair share of challenges, which can either make or break the business.
It is of utmost importance that anyone seeking to start up a grasscutter farm must be ready to weigh the prospects and act in accordance with their tolerance and capability. Here are a few things to consider when starting up a grass cutter farm.
With grasscutter meat being classified as white meat, there is a high demand for this unique merchandise by hotels and well to do communities who have a greater taste and appreciation for white meat.
Placing your farm in close proximity to these locations is a positive strategic move that is definitely geared towards having a positive effect on your business.
It is also growing to become a widely accepted meat in homes of every religion and tradition.
Cost Of Breeding And Production
The acquisition, maintenance and breeding of grasscutters are very important in the breeding of this livestock, for if they are done wrong, the consequences would be terrible.
The average grasscutter farmer would spend a little over 85,000 Naira to see to the total production process for a small- average scale grasscutter farm. The average price for a mature buck is 12,000 naira and that of a doe is between 14,000-15,000 naira.
The price of a served doe ranges from 18,000-20,000 Naira. The cost of feeding every month is about N230 for each grass cutter. When you factor in the cost of their medical maintenance, the total start-up cost should cost nothing more than N85,000 for the average grasscutter farm.
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Pests And Diseases Common To Grasscutters
Just like every livestock farmer, grass cutter farmers must be aware of the pests, disease-carrying pathogens and diseases that are peculiar to their livestock.
It is not only important that they know of these things, but also twice as much important that they carry out measures to obstruct the ability of these nuisances to thrive around their grass cutters.
Pneumonia in Grass cutters
This is a frequent occurrence found among grass cutters of all kinds. It is induced by a bacteria called (Diplococus Pneumonate) which thrives in cold weather.
To avoid this occurrence, make sure your livestock are well protected from the harsh cold during cold weathers and avoid feeding them with dusty feeds.
Ecto-parasites like flea, lice and ticks are common amongst grass cutter. These parasites can be taking care of (removed) by a medical dipping process. Worms on the other hand attack the insides of a grass cutter.
They gain entry by hiding in wet and contaminated plants that grasscutters feed on, and also by hiding in wilted forage. Worms can be gotten rid of by deworming the grasscutters on a regular basis.
Other Grasscutter Diseases
Some other diseases most common to grass cutters are; Staphylococeamia, which is caused by the bacterium- staphylococcus aerus, which leads to nasal and vaginal discharge and can be treated by antibiotics.
Coccidiosis is caused by protozoa which belong to the Eimeria family and it leads to diarrhoea, appetite loss and fatigue. Enterotoxaemia is caused by a bacterial infection that causes paralysis and excessive kicking of the hind leg, and it can be prevented by regular environmental sanitation and proper vaccination of the grass cutter.
The Housing Of Grasscutters
Grasscutter housing is one of the many factors to consider when starting a grasscutter farm, and it is of paramount importance next to feeding and breeding.
The housing must be properly lit and well ventilated and should contain insulation features for cold periods to avoid health casualties among the livestock.
A typical grasscutter housing consists of well-roofed buildings that contain wire hutches and wood. Feed troughs and drinkers, along with holding and transfer cages should be deftly installed for proper management and production of this livestock.
Family cages should be 160cm by 60 cm by 45 cm (length, breadth and height respectively) in their dimensions. While cages for individual grasscutters should have a dimension of 50cm by 50 cm by 40cm (length, breadth and height respectively).
When creating these cages, it is important to create apartments with openings of smaller sizes in order to permit movement by the grass cutter from one apartment to the other. In transfer cages, 80cm by 40cm by 30cm, can be considered as acceptable dimensions for constructing the cage.
Breeding of Grasscutter
To breed grass cutter, the following requirements must be met;
- The grasscutter meant for stocking must be healthy, well-developed and docile along with the subsequent grass cutters.
- The weight of the grasscutter intended for breeding should not be more than 8kg and should not be less than 5kg either.
- The record of production for the mother should be considered. These records include; the average litter size, average weight and average generation.
During mating periods, the female grasscutter can either be mated at the age of 6 months with her male counterpart being no less than 8 months or taken directly to the male hutch for the purpose of mating.
The females have a gestation period of 152 days. Pregnant grasscutters tend to urinate more often than normal and also experience a spike in their body temperatures.
Around a week to Parturition (giving birth), the female grasscutter would exhibit signs of restlessness and nervousness. At birth, when compared to the male grasscutter, the female grasscutter is always smaller in size. At birth, the eyes of the offspring are wide open and their teeth are fully developed.
Profits And Returns
Just like every other business, grasscutter farming in Nigeria can incur good returns or profits if managed well. Following the various health campaign that grasscutter meat has inspired, there is a very high demand for this product in the market.
With such high demand, farmers stand to get at least N600,000 annually if he starts up his farm with just a buck (Male grass cutter) and a doe(female grass cutter).
With more grasscutter and a well-drawn out business plan, there is bound to be more returns, giving rise to economic and financial boom. Indeed, if you have around a hundred females that give birth two times a year, then you would make millions from the ensuing offspring.
Useful Tips for Grass Cutter Rearing
- In order to avoid battles for dominance amongst grasscutters, adults and young males should be kept apart.
- Avoid overcrowding, so as to discourage fights for space and food.
- Always ensure that the grasscutter is lifted gradually by being held firmly and steadily by the middle of the tail for the purpose of easy handling.
- Keep the grasscutters dry at all times and avoid unnecessary movements from one cage to the other.
- To prevent snakes and various other pests from frightening or attacking them, always make sure that their cages and housing are kept far from the bushy environment.
- The place of hygiene in any livestock farm can never be overemphasized. Always try to keep the cages and housing as clean as possible so as to prevent unwarranted illnesses and malformed grass cutters.
It is one thing to start a farm, it is another thing to maintain it. Nothing good ever comes easy. Always put in an extra effort into making this grasscutter farm better than the competitions.
Remember, success starts from the mind. A lot can be gained from this, so why not get started, as the popular adage goes, “the grasscutter waits for no man”.
Now you know how to start grasscutter farming in Nigeria.
Grasscutter is very profitable and it’s cheap to start and maintain, With the high demand, farmers stand to get at least N600,000 annually if he starts up his farm with just a buck (Male grass cutter) and a doe(female grass cutter).
The gestation period of a female grasscutter is almost 5 months i.e. 152 days.
Grasscutter is called Oya in Yoruba which is one of the popular bushmeats in Nigeria.