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GRASS CUTTER PRODUCTION

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  • CHRIS CHIMA
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  •  INTRODUCTION
    Grasscutter belong to the family of rodent. It is also known as cane rat or cutting grass. Grasscutter farming is a relatively new venture in animal husbandry in Nigeria but has since been practiced in many west African countries such as Ghana, republic of Benin, Togo, cote D’vore and many other countries in central Africa. 
                There are different spices of grasscutters, but the popular ones are the thryonomis agregorianus (brown race) and the thryonomis swinderianus (black race)


    ECONOMIC IMPORTANT OF GRASSCUTTER 

    Ø  It service as protein to man
    Ø  It services as source of income to man
    Ø  The furs/skin of the grasscutter is a ready raw material for making various kinds of hard brushes and foot mats.
    Ø  Its waste product serves as a good source of organic manures.


    There are two main management systems, and these are the extensive system and the intensive system.
    EXTENSIVE SYSTEM  
    This system is the wide range system. Grasscutter are usually found in the bushes or in the forest. Harvesting is hunting in the wide life. 
    ADVERTAGES
    Ø  It provides game for man during hunting festivals
    Ø  A source of meat to man
    Ø  A source of  raw materials to industries 

    DISADVERTAGES
    Ø  It destroys our natural habitat
    Ø  It is very difficult to harvest
    SEMI INTENSIVE SYSTEM
    Under this system, a large acres of land is fenced and the grasscutter are then released into the large acres of land with a lot of natural basal feed (natural grasses) to feed on. Harvesting is usually done by setting traps. 
    ADVERTAGES
    Ø  It is very cheap to manage  
    Ø  It provides meat to man     
    DISADVERTAGES
    Ø  Taking total numbers of stock is impossible
    Ø  Open to external predators
    Ø   This system is not usually the best because un-matured ones may be caught or injured during the harvesting period.  
    Ø  If not handle with care, it can be very dangerous   
    INTENSIVE SYSTEM 
                Grasscutters under this system are usually kept inside a confined environment where housing, feeding and treatment are given to them for optimal health and development. The house build for them is called a ‘den’.   
     



    DEN OF A GRASSCUTTER

    ADVERTAGES
    Ø  Grasscutter is a source of income to the farmer
    Ø  It provide food for man
    Ø  Is serve as source of raw materials for industries and research
    DISADVANTAGE
    Ø  It is costly to maintain
    Ø  If not handle with care, it can be very dangerous

    IDENTIFICATION OF SEX IN GRASSCUTTERS
    There are three criteria in identifying sex in grasscutters, these are;
    Ø  Shape of the head
    Ø  Body size
    Ø  Ana-genital distance (Ana-genital distance that exist between the reproductive organ and anus)   


    MALE
    FEMALE
    The males head is usually big and round,
    The female’s head is usually smallish and narrow
    Their bodies is usually bigger than that of the female
    Their body size is smaller than that of the male
    There  is golf distance between the anus and the pennies
    The anus and the clitoris are clamped together, hence there is no dist

    HANDLING OF GRASSCUTTERS
    As a result of the hostile nature of grasscutter, one needs to be very careful when handling any one of them. Always use a clip to select any desired specie you want to examine. But in the absent of clip, hold the grasscutter on the center of the tail, or on the fore-legs or on the hind leg, use any one possible.

    FEEDIND IN GRASSCUTTER
     Feeding in grasscutter can take the form of basal feeding or artificial feeding
    EXAMPLES BASAL FEEDIND  
    Basal feeds are those naturally feed use in feeding animals. Examples of basal feed for grasscutters are; elephant grass, guinea grass, paspalon, fresh maize stalk and cobs, sugar cane, pineapple leaves and crown, nervure of palm trees and coconut trees, cassava stem and tubers, pawpaw fruit, unripe tomatoes, cucumber, and so on. 
    THE NEED FOR ARTIFICIAL FEED
                There is need to use artificial feeding as supplement when rearing your grasscutter in order to the grasscutter the require nutrition value.  A good formulated feed for grasscutter is written below;
     Crude protein………………………………………………..   12.14
    Digestible energy……………………………………………. 2300-2500kcal 
    Crude cellulose ……………………………………………… 8-10
    Calcium ………………………………………………………….0.5-1%
    Phosphorus …………………………………………………….0.3-0.5% 
    The recommended feed ratio is 50-60g/day per animal and the average daily weight grained (ADWG) IS BETWEEN 9-10g
    REPRODUCTION
    The reproductive age of grasscutter is 7-8 months for both sexes.
     REPRODUCTION SELETION IN MALE  
    Ø  The male must be docile
    Ø  Must have normal growth rate or should have been at least 2.5kg at 8 months
    Ø  Must have equal size of testicle

    REPRODUCTION SELETION IN FEMALE
    Ø  The female must have at least two pairs of teat
    Ø  Must have normal growth rate or attain at least 2kg
    PREPARING THE MALE FOR COUPULATION
    STIMULATING   
    This exercise is carried out on the third month of the birth of the grasscutter. It involves the massaging of the genital organ, especially at the neck region with a view to arouse its sexual consciousness. This exercise continued until the male grasscutter attained full reproductive stage at eight months.
    COUPULATION
                This is usually done when the female is on heat, (especially in the intensive system). On the natural bases, the male will mount one the female before it ejaculate internal and fertilize the ovary of the female. The same principle is what takes place even in the intensive system. The only thing is that special attention is given to them. One male can be use for four female.
    Note; always allow the female to stay with the male in the same den for about one to two months to ensure fertilization.   
    GESTATION TEST
    Gestation test is done using cotton bud. Insert the cotton bud inside the clitoris of the female with a gentle twist.    
    RESULT
    Those ones with blood stain or brownish colour in the cotton bud indicate that they are pregnant, while those ones that are grayish-white are not pregnant. The non-pregnant ones are re-introducing into the den. 
    Note; male are called buck while female are called doe.
    GESTATION PERIOD
    The pregnant doe gestate for a period of 5 months hence 152 days
    LITTER SIZE
    The litter sizes 4-11 kids per doe
    LACTATION PERIOD
    They lactate for 45days 
    WEANING
    Weaning is done immediately after lactation
    COLONY
    Four female grascutter to one male grascutter

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