WHAT GRASSCUTTER IS ALL ABOUT
Grasscutters, also known as cutting grass or cane rats, are small mammals with the scientific name Thryonomys swinderianus. They are native to tropical areas such as rainforests, swamps, savannas, and mangroves, and can also be found in farmlands, sugarcane plantations, and oil palm plantations. In Nigeria, grasscutter farming is becoming increasingly popular as a source of income.
Grasscutters are herbivorous animals with a single stomach, and are known to be harmless and social creatures that live in groups and do not burrow, although they may use holes dug by other animals. They are nocturnal and more active at night. The meat of grasscutters is considered acceptable by many religions and societies, and a significant portion of the grasscutters consumed in Nigeria are hunted in the wild. One kilogram of grasscutter meat can cost up to 12 times the price of 1kg of beef, 10 times the price of goat meat, and 8 times the price of chicken, making grasscutter farming a lucrative business opportunity.
SIZES OF GRASSCUTTER
In terms of physical appearance, grasscutters are small but heavy animals with coarse, bristly fur that is brown on top and light brown on the underside, with a white belly. They can grow to be between 20cm and 75cm in length, with adults reaching 60cm to 75cm in length, while newborns are around 20cm to 25cm long. The tail of a grasscutter is fragile and can break off easily if not held at the base. The edible meat of a grasscutter constitutes about 80% of its body, including the head and entrails, which are often eaten. Like rabbits, grasscutters are coprophagic, meaning they eat their own soft feces directly from their anus.
BUILDING OF GRASSCUTTER PEN
Housing is an essential element of grasscutter production and management. It should be a roofed structure with wooden wire hutches, and it should have good ventilation, lighting, and equipment such as feeders, water dispensers, holding cages, and transfer cages. The dimensions of family cages should be 1.6 meters by 0.6 meters by 0.45 meters, and individual grasscutter cages should be 0.5 meters by 0.5 meters by 0.4 meters. Holding cages should be 12-14cm by 12-14cm by 34-38cm, and transfer cages should be 80cm by 40cm by 30cm. It is recommended to have a small opening of 20cm by 20cm in the housing to allow grasscutters to move from one area to another. The hutches should have wire mesh sides and floors, and sliding galvanized trays should be placed under each unit to separate feces and urine.
Grasscutters of the same sex and age can be housed together. Young grasscutters consume their mother’s milk until they are weaned at six weeks old, although they may start consuming adult grasscutter feed shortly before weaning. Unlike rabbits, grasscutter young are born with their eyes open.
When breeding grasscutters, it is important to select docile, healthy, and well-developed animals for breeding and replacement purposes. These animals should be obtained from a reputable and established grasscutter farm, rather than being sourced from the wild. The live weight of the grasscutters used for breeding should be between 5kg and 8kg, and their production records, including mean litter size, mean weaning weight, and mean generation intervals, should be considered. Female grasscutters should be mated at six months old, while males should not be mated before eight months old. Breeding should take place in the male’s hutch, with females brought in for mating.
GESTAION PERIOD OF GRASSCUTTER
Gestation in grasscutters lasts 152 days. One week before giving birth, the female grasscutter may become restless and nervous, and her hair coat may stand on end. She may also move slowly within the hutch. At birth, male grasscutters are typically larger than females, and litter sizes range from one to eleven, with an average of five per litter.
COMMON DISEASES AMONGST GRASSCUTTER
Common diseases in grasscutters include enterotoxaemia, caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens and characterized by paralysis and pedaling of the hind legs; staphylococeamia, caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and characterized by discharge from the nostrils and vagina; and coccidiosis, caused by protozoa of the Eimeria family and characterized by diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, and isolation. Enterotoxaemia can be prevented through vaccination and maintaining a clean environment, while staphylococeamia can be treated with antibiotics. Coccidiosis can be treated with medication. It is advisable to consider insurance to protect against losses from unexpected disease outbreaks in a grasscutter farming business.
Grasscutters, also known as cane rats, are a type of rodent that is native to West Africa and is often raised for their meat, which is highly sought after in the region. In Nigeria, grasscutter farming can be a profitable enterprise due to the high demand for the meat.
To keep grasscutters healthy, it is important to prevent them from being infected with parasites such as worms, ticks, lice, and fleas. This can be done by avoiding feeding them wet or contaminated forage, allowing forage to wilt, and regularly deworming the animals. Pneumonia, which is caused by the bacterium Diplococus pneumonate, can be prevented by protecting grasscutters from cold weather and avoiding dusty feeds. To prevent fights among grasscutters, it is recommended to keep adults and young males separate and to avoid overcrowding. To make handling them easier, grasscutters should be held by the middle of the tail and lifted gently. It is also important to keep the animals dry and to clean their cages regularly.
HOW LONG DO GRASSCUTTERS LIVE BEFORE THEY DIE?
Grasscutters are herbivores and prefer tick-stemmed grass species such as elephant grass and guinea grass. On average, they can live for 7-9 years, but with proper care, they can live up to 12 years. The market price for a grasscutter in Nigeria is between N4,000 and N5,500. With proper management, a grasscutter farmer can earn at least N600,000 annually from a farm with just one buck and one doe. With a larger number of grasscutters and a well-planned business strategy, profits can increase significantly. Other useful tips for grasscutter rearing include using balanced feed, ensuring proper housing and ventilation, and practicing proper hygiene
HOW PROFITABIE IS GRASSCUTTER BUSINESS
Grasscutter farming can be a profitable venture in Nigeria because of the high demand for grasscutter meat, which is considered to be healthy. With just one male and one female grasscutter, a farmer can potentially earn annual profits of at least N600,000. By expanding the farm and having a well-thought-out business plan, even higher returns can be achieved. For instance, a farmer with a hundred female grasscutters that give birth twice a year could potentially earn millions from their offspring. In general, starting and maintaining a grasscutter farm is relatively inexpensive, making it a viable investment option for farmers.
NECESSARY POINTS TO NOTE DOWN ON GRASSCUTTER BUSINESS
- Separate adult and young male grasscutters to prevent conflicts.
- Avoid overcrowding to reduce the risk of fights over resources.
- Gently handle the grasscutters by holding them firmly and steadily by the middle of their tail.
- Keep the grasscutters dry and minimize movement between cages.
- Keep the cages and housing far from areas with bushes or other pests to protect the grasscutters from predators or attacks.
- Maintain clean cages and housing to prevent illnesses and deformities in the grasscutters.
- Remember that running a successful grasscutter farm requires effort and attention to detail.
- Maintain a positive attitude and strive to make your farm better than the competition.
Starting and maintaining a grasscutter farm in Nigeria requires dedication and effort, but the rewards can be significant. Keep these tips in mind as you embark on your journey in grasscutter farming.
HEALTH AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF GRASSCUTTER
- The grasscutter, also known as the cane rat, is a small mammal native to African grasslands. It is similar to a rabbit, but is not closely related to other common farm animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle. Grasscutters are known for their ability to feed on a wide variety of grasses, plants, and other food sources, which makes them a valuable source of income for farmers and a source of protein for those living in rural and urban communities in the West African sub-region and parts of Southern Africa.
- In addition to their value as a food source, grasscutters can also be raised as a backyard venture, making them an attractive option for small-scale farmers. Their economic return, as well as their ability to be raised in small spaces, make them a good candidate for support from development agencies and non-governmental organizations interested in reducing poverty in the West African sub-region.
- Despite their potential as a source of income and protein, there is a need for further research on the nutrition and constraints of grasscutters in captivity, as well as on genetic improvement to improve their docility.
- Grasscutters, also known as cane rats, are a type of rodent that is suitable for domestication due to their calm demeanor, quick reproduction rate, and ability to thrive in intensive conditions. They become sexually mature at 5-6 months old and can have litters of up to 12 offspring. In terms of agriculture, grasscutters are easy to manage, their meat is high in protein and valuable globally, and they are relatively inexpensive to raise, with a colony (consisting of one male and four females) costing between 40,000 and 50,000 NGN. The cost of building a wooden cage to house the colony is also relatively low, at around 10,000 NGN.
- Grasscutters are efficient at converting feed and can reach a body weight suitable for meat production in a short amount of time. They can be sold as breeders at 12 weeks old, and a well-managed colony can produce 50-56 cane rats per year. Breeding stock production of grasscutters can be a profitable aspect of cane rat farming. In addition to being a source of food and income,
- grasscutter farming can also create employment opportunities and contribute to the GDP by reducing the need for imported meats and increasing foreign exchange earnings through exports. There is a strong demand for grasscutter meat, as it is considered a delicacy and does not have any cultural or religious restrictions on its consumption.
- Grasscutters also have a high reproductive rate, with a doe capable of producing up to 14 litters in a year and having a rearing period of 24-26 weeks. They also have high resistance to diseases.