Grasscutter farming is gaining popularity in Africa for good reasons. Greater Cane Rat popularly known as Grasscutter belongs to the rodent family and is very closely related to the porcupine, almost look alike except that porcupine is bigger. The spiny fur on the back and rounded nose distinguish Grasscutter from true rats. It reaches a length of about 720 mm when fully matured. Grasscutter farming can make you at least N3million per year if you take it serious.
So, how do you start Grasscutter farming in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa or any part of west Africa where this animal is most fond of? This article will address that.
Grasscutter is one of the animal that is extremely suitable for commercial rearing. If you are in the village and still complaining about money, you need to be brought out to the village square and be given 24 strokes of cane on a hot afternoon. Why? Because you’ve been allowing opportunities to pass you by all these years!
After reading this article, you need between 6 – 12 months to make at least one million naira in this business. If not, then something is wrong with you somewhere. So, let’s get down to business and see how Grasscutter farming works
Grasscutter farming is highly profitable, more profitable than you imagined. The meat is widely consumed allover the West Africa region and beyond, making it one of the top 10 animals whose meat is in highest demand in the market. A market ready Grasscutter is sold between N4,000 to N5,500. Five hundred Grasscuters in a year could earn you between N2 Million to N2.75 Million.
The animal reproduces very quickly and in good numbers. A fully grown female Grasscutter after gestation, carries the pregnancy for 140 – 150 days and deliver about twice a year. Each pregnancy produces average of four to seven young ones. Sometimes up to ten, that means one female Grasscutter could produce 8 – 20 other Grasscutters in a year
It grows big and very fast too. Grasscutter is one of the biggest rodent in Africa. A fully mature female or male that is ready for market weighs between 3.5kg for the female and 4.5kg for the male. While measuring 45cm to 60cm in body length. The standing height is between 25 to 30cm. The body size of a fully grown male is about the size of a nine inches block.
A good number of Grasscutter is consumed yearly but most of them still comes from the wild through hunters who goes into the bush to hunt for them but usually not easy to catch, making the animal meat very scarce in the market.
Getting Started In Grasscutter Farming
Colony – Grasscutter lives in colony, two mature male doesn’t live together. Therefore, start with a male and few females together. A colony should consists of one male and three to four females. Your capacity determine how many colony you wants to start with. A small farmer may start with one or two colony, with the arrangement of one male and 3 females in each colony.
Breeding – Grasscutter is kept 100% for the meat, it has to grow well and healthy in other to be profitable. To achieve this, a new farmer must lay emphasis on the choice of breeding stock. Each colony must have a very health male. The male is the engine of reproduction, a healthy male makes a healthy stock. While selecting the male, pay attention on the well being, good weight gain in male animals is a very important factors that determine how healthy it is.
In any case, both the male and female stock you are selecting for breeding purpose must be healthy. While a healthy, strong, agile male animal should be selected for breeding programs, if the female is not genetically healthy too, it will also affect the breeding stocks. To ensure that you achieve the best possible result, both has to be healthy.
Grasscutter Pen – Grasscutter don’t like sleeping where they eat! If you are providing them house you must put this factor into consideration – either cage or house, you must provide steeping place and dinning and playing place.
They can be breed either in a properly build cages or in a house specially designed for them. Grasscutter is sensitive to good habitat, for a colony (1 male and 3 females) the dimension of the cage should be 180cm in length, 60cm in width and 45cm in height. Build your cage that way, separate for each colony.
If you are using walled pen or house, make sure you build it in such way that the place they eat must be separate from where they sleep. Also the production building must be designed to protect the animals from excess temperature and humidity.
The biggest enemies for Grasscutter are Snakes and Soldier Ants.Make sure their house are built is a safe place and you must also be wary of human thieves. To protect them from the invasion of soldier ants, you may pour black engine oil around their houses, especially at night during raining season mostly.
The floor should be overlay with dry soft grasses to protect their feet from being hurt and to provide them soft cushy play ground condition.
Feeding The Grasscutters
Grasscutter is a herbivorous animals meaning their source of food is basically from the bush, that’s why they are more comfortable in the bush where their foods could easily be found. Their major food is Elephant or Napier grass. They also love Sugar cane and most farmers use sugar cane mainly for their feeding, Guinea grass, Gamba grass, Congo grass.
According to experience farmers, Hygiene and good feeding are the most important factors for successful, profitably Grasscutter farming. You can also fatten the male with broiler’s finisher or broiler starter’s feed to help attain market weight within short period of time.
The animal also like Gliricidia sepium, herbaceous legumes like Stylo (Stylosanthes gracilis) and Pueraria phaseoloides. The root and pitch of oil and coconut palms, bark of the anacardium and fruits such as half ripen pawpaw, plantain, pineapple, mango etc are their delight. Food crops such as groundnut, rice, maize, grain legume, tubers like cassava, sweet potato etc also make part of their food, stressed the grasscutter farmer.
The farmer also stated that grasscutter feed on palm wine and that is why they destroy oil palm plantation. They take their water mostly from the field and go to the river during the dry season only. But when domesticated, you can give them water by adding some attractant to it. Cane rate it should be noted does not dig a hole and cannot climb a tree either, he further stressed.
They can also be fed with formulated concentrates like pellet as well as other processing by-products like wheat bran, corn bran, groundnut, soya, oilseed, cotton seed cakes, brewer yeast, grain legume pods, brewers’ grains, maize shucks and cobs, brewer’s yeast etc as feed supplements.
Grasscutter don’t like cold environment. The rooms or cages where you keep them must neither be too cold nor too hot. Environment that is suitable for human is considered suitable for Grasscutters.
Weaning time – With good, adequate feeding, the grasscutter kids can be weaned between four to eight weeks. But as a family, they can be with the mother for four months. The kids can be separated from the mother between five to seven months and place with a male to mate with them.
The weaned animals can be mated at the age of between seven to eight months from birth. Indefinite mating is expected to have taken place when the weaned male Grasscutter is seven months old and the female is eight months. The indefinite mating period is 140days. But if after 160 days of separation from the male, there is still no sign of pregnancy , then it should be taken back to the male for proper mating. Usually there should also be an extra male that can serve the same purpose.
The Market For Grasscutter
The market like I stated earlier is very big. Grasscutter meat or Bush meat is probably the most desirable animal meet in the market. Everyone loves it and it sells very fast. Big restaurants uses it to prepare high priced delicacies. Full meat of a mature Grasscutter goes for N4,500 in the market and the market women who trade on it are always in demand of it.
Most people in the city couldn’t buy the meat because it’s very scarce, so no amount of Grasscutter you produced that can’t be sold within days. It will take combined efforts of thousands of farmers to fill the need for bush meat in the market in Africa right now.
Grasscutter is a fast reproducing animal and starts mating with 7 months after birth. It gives birth twice yearly and produce 4-7 at a time. That means, if you have 100 females that gives birth twice in a year, you would be having 900 to 1,500 in your farm within just a year! Such number will bring you nothing less than N5 Million when they are matured for marketing.