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PREVALENCE AND PATHOLOGY OF DISEASES OF RABBITS IN CENTRAL, RIFT-VALLEY AND NAIROBI, KENYA.

SUMMARY

This study provides information on Production Characteristics and Constraints of Rabbit Farming in Kenya. The collection of data was done using questionnaire and observation sheets and analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) version 18. The study revealed that rabbit farmers in Central, Nairobi and Rift Valley provinces practice small scale farming largely due to small land space. A large proportion of farmers (51%) had kept rabbits between 1 and 5 years, indicating a sustained interest in rabbit farming. The most common breeds of rabbits kept were New Zealand white (73%), Californian (60%) and their cross breeds (51%) which were all suitable for meat production. This study revealed that farmers have limited access to technical information in rabbit farming and this was seen in the poor design and construction of the rabbit hutches. Majority of farmers (64%) bought their breeding stock from other farmers, with only a small proportion buying from breeding centres (17%). This practice of buying replacement stock among farmers was likely to lead to inbreeding. The major constraints of rabbit farming are those dealing with production; disease (83%), predators like rats (29%), death of rabbits (69%) and unavailability of rabbit feed (19%). Various intervention measures aimed at supporting rabbit farming are required.

  

Coccidia were the most prevalent parasite infection in this study and were observed in 72% of the farms examined. Low numbers of Strongyle nematode eggs were observed in 2.4% of farms and this was indicative of low prevalence of this infection. Psoroptes cuniculi and Sarcoptes scabiei were the most common external parasites observed, Ctenocephalides canis and Echidnophaga gallinacea were only observed in 2 rabbits in the study. Post-mortem and histopatholgy findings showed a high incidence of disease and death caused by gastrointestinal conditions (49%) and respiratory infections (12%). Enteritis was confirmed in 29 cases (31%), intestinal coccidiosis in 10 (11%) and hepatic coccidiosis in 1 case (1%). Aflatoxicosis (3%) and ear canker (2%) were some pathological conditions recorded.