WRSA - Rabbit production in developing countries


Rabbit Production in El Salvador - Large and Small

by James I. McNitt



This project was started by Partners of the Americas to assist in development of a rabbit industry in El Salvador by providing training and assistance to farmers large and small, students and other technical persons. An important result was to train the participants to build cages entirely of welded mesh wire. Because of the shortage of lumber and its resulting high cost, these cages, at about US$9 each, are more environmentally friendly and less expensive than those constructed of 2"x 2" (5x5 cm) lumber, chicken wire and hardware cloth.


Several formal training sessions were presented in various locations and to diverse groups. Topics included Introduction to Rabbit Production, Housing, Diseases, Genetics, a hands-on cage building training session, practice in rabbit processing and a round table discussion.

In the first year of the program, Juan Carlos, who was the Secretary/Treasurer of the rabbit producer's association but had no rabbits, listened avidly and took copious notes. At one point during a field trip, he pointed out a location on a nearby hillside that he said was his farm. A year later he had his commercial farm near La Libertad, Granja don Bosco, in operation with 200 producing does and was selling 100 -150 dressed fryers (2 lb - about 0.9 kg) each week to four stores in one of the supermarket chains. He was paid US$1.90 per pound and the store sold the whole carcasses for US$2.45 per pound. All of his rabbits are in all wire cages. He feeds the local feed (which costs US$7.50 per 100 pounds) mixed half and half with Purina feed from Guatemala (US$10.45 per 100 pounds). He says the quality of the local feed is insufficient to maintain the level of production that he needs but the cost of the feed from Guatemala is too high for him to make a profit.


On the other end of the scale, Don Concepcion in Tamasha has about six breeding does. He participated in training sessions and learned about using local green feeds for his rabbits. He and four other farmers in the area sell rabbits to a restaurant at the entrance to El Impossible National Park. They sell about 16 lb of 2-4 lb carcasses each month at US$2.30 per pound. If they have rabbits they can't sell, they eat them. They like to use the commercial feed, but when they feed it as a sole diet to all the rabbits, the sales cover the cost of their feed but don't leave enough money to buy more cages and expand their production. They felt the commercial feed was necessary because it helped their litters to survive. To keep the feeding value of the commercial feed while making the feeding regime affordable, they now use the commercial concentrate for the does but finish the fryers on green feeds and milo. This has allowed them to make a profit and consider adding more cages and breeding does.