Thryonomys Swinderianus commonly known as grasscutter comes from the rodent family and are very adaptable to most tropical vegetations; let’s discuss grasscutter farming in Nigeria!
Grasscutter meat is highly valued and has been available in the market for a long time in countries like Africa, Asia, Latin America. They are found in mangroves, swamps, rainforests and savannas.
Grasscutters dwell in farmlands, sugarcane plantations, oil palm plantations and in creeks and are classified as monogastric herbivores.
Grasscutter farming in Nigeria is on the rise and it’s providing income for a lot of people because the meat is acceptable to most societies and religion. A large proportion of the grasscutter consumed in Nigeria is hunted in the bush. 1kg of grasscutter can cost about twelve times the cost of 1kg of cow meat (beef), ten times the cost of goat meat, and eight times the cost of chicken.
This makes grasscutter farming in Nigeria a very profitable business to go into. Let’s learn more!
Nutritional Value of Grasscutter
- Grasscutter, which is a source of meat, has high protein, which is really good for the body.
- Unlike red meats which have high cholesterol, grasscutter meat has white meats so if you are looking for a good meat which is not a red meat here is an alternative for you.
- Overall, nutrient obtained from animal products has high percentage of vitamin A, Vitamin B, riboflavin, magnesium, Iron, Niacin etc unlike in plants products.
Things to Consider When Starting a Grasscutter Farming Business
There are many factors combined to lead a successful grasscutter farming in Nigeria business. 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:
With grasscutter meat being classified as white meat, demand for this meat has increased by people who have a greater taste and appreciation for white meat like hotels. Placing of 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.
Cost of Breeding and Production
The acquisition, maintenance, and breeding of grasscutters are very important in the breeding of this livestock.
The average grasscutter farmer would spend a little over 85,000 Naira to take care of 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 85,000 Naira for the average grasscutter farm.
Grasscutters live in colonies, and a colony consist of 1 male and 3 females. Two mature male grasscutters cannot live together. The amount of colony you need to start your business depends on you, but it’s better to start with a few at the beginning i.e. like 2 colonies.
Grasscutters neither like dirty places nor sleep in the same place they eat, so provide both sleeping and eating areas. The type, size and quality of housing are important factors. The housing consists of roofed building containing wood with wire hutches.
The housing must be well illuminated and properly aerated. The housing must be installed with feed troughs, drinkers, holding cages and transfer cages.
The cage dimension is usually up to 180cm in length, 45cm in height, and 60cm in width. Grasscutters are very picky inhabitant. Therefore, build the cage with special areas for each colony.
The cage must protect grasscutters from excessively hot or cold temperature and humidity and line the floor with dry soft grass to protect the grasscutters feet from injury. Also, ensure that the cage is built in a secure place as thew grasscutters do not like to have other animals in their cage-like ants and snakes.
Grasscutters are herbivorous animals, so they loves to eat grass and leaves. Their source of food includes elephant or napier grass, sugar cane, the Elephant grass is a perfect choice for feeding grasscutters.
You can also feed them with root and pitch of oil, coconut palms or the bark of cashew tree. Additionally, you can feed them with mango, pawpaw, pineapple and other fruits.
Crops such as maize, grain, groundnut, cassava, sweet potato, rice can be also a part of the diet for a grasscutter. The animals can also be fed with formulated concentrates, such as pellets or other processing by-products.
These can be corn bran, maize shucks, groundnut, brewer yeast, grain legume pods wheat bran, soya, oilseed, cotton, seed cakes, brewers’ grains, and cobs, brewer’s yeast and others. The young grasscutter feeds on milk from the Doe until six weeks when it is weaned.
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Grasscutter Breeding and Reproduction
For a successful breed, you can get 3–4 male grasscutter for 10-15 female grasscutters and the male’s presence can trigger the female grasscutter ovulation.
Grasscutter Sexual maturity: This is when the grasscutter is ready for reproduction and breeding. For the male it can be from 8 months (32 weeks) at a lowest body weight of 2.5 kg. And For the female: 6.5 months (26 weeks) at a lowest body weight of 1.8 kg.
Grasscutter Gestation Period: This is the period of time the animals develops inside the mother’s body till it is born. After mating, be sure that the female grasscutter is pregnant.
You can check this by using a little cotton bud or white cloth to clean the female grasscutter genitals; if it is reddish-brown, then it’s pregnant, if it’s not, then it’s not pregnant. Normally, the gestation period takes up to 5 months approximately.
The possible number of litters per year: Litters are the sets offspring at one birth of an animal. Grasscutter in a year can give birth to two set of litters and each litters will consist of 3-4 young grasscutters.
You should know that young grasscutters, even when very small, already resemble fully grown adult grasscutter. They can move around easily within a few hours after delivery. Make sure you provide their mother with enough supplementary food and also enough water that will aid in breast milking.
Grasscutter Weaning or suckling period: this is the act of breastfeeding the young grasscutter. The normal period for weaning the young grasscutter should not be more than 40 days after birth; if extended, the mother grasscutter will begin to feel weak. During or after the weaning, the baby grasscutters should then be put in a separate pen or cage according to weights and sex.
Know that grasscutter’s pen should not be overcrowded. A pen of young grasscutter should contain at least 10-15 grasscutters; remember according to weights and sex.
The following are the most common diseases in grasscutter:
1. Enterotoxaemia: caused by the bacterium, Clostridium perfringes. Sign of the disease includes paralysis and pedalling of the hind legs. This disease is prevented by vaccination and keeping the environment clean
2. Staphylococeamia: caused by bacterium- Staphylococcus aureus. The signs of the disease are discharged from the nostrils and vagina. Antibiotics are used in treating it.
3. Coccidiosis: This disease is caused by protozoa of the Eimeria family. Signs of the disease include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weakness and isolation
Feeding on contaminated wet grasses and leaves of sugarcane can cause worm infestation which can be prevented by avoiding feeding of wet forage and by allowing forage to wilt. Regular deworming should be carried out to get rid of worms.
Ticks, lice and flea are common ectoparasites of grasscutter. Dipping and giving dewormers are common practices of removing parasites.
Selling your grasscutter:
After your grasscutter has matured to a normal weight, then you can sell them according to your market price. Always remember to keep some for breeding which will aid in continuous reproduction.
That is how to be successful in your grasscutter farming business in Nigeria.
Other health management care and issues that could occur in your grasscutter farming business in Nigeria
- Pest and diseases that could affect your grasscutters
- You should always inspect your grasscutter always for any symptoms of sickness like social withdrawal, refusing to eat, coughing, soft or watery faeces, any inflammation of the body part, dull-looking etc.
- Always give them nutrients that will improve them and boost their immune system. A mixture of sugar and lemon can be mixed in their water if you noticed any signs of weakness or when they undergo stress. The mixture of sugar and lemon should be about 50 sugar lumps and two large glasses of pure lemon juice added to 20-25 litres of water.
- Always clean the pen or cage with bleach, detergent to disinfect it and make it clean.
- Always wash the feeding and drinking trough at least once a week to avoid the spreading of germs.
- Any dead grasscutter should be disposed off immediately.
- Separate the sick grasscutters from the healthy ones for close monitoring.
- Sometimes, you might want to administer some antibiotics to the grasscutter
- If possible, require the help of a veterinarian for assistant.
- Prevent the entrance of snake, rats or hawks which can be a predator to the growth of your grasscutters farming business in Nigeria.
- On handling the grasscutter- For young or light animal; it is lifted by the tail by holding at the base of the tail, then gently grab its back with the other hand. For a medium-sized animal; though it can be grabbed by the tail but it is best to grab it on the back with the other hand so that there is not too much weight on the tail. For heavy animal; it should be handled by means of the squeeze cage.
- Enough ventilation and normal temperature should be available in the room.
- Always ensure to keep a record of every number of grasscutter either dead or alive, the amount of food consumed, the amount of medication consumed. This will aid in recording your gain or profit.
After going through this article, you will see that grasscutter farming in Nigeria is a type of agricultural business, which you need to consider for maximum profits.