Grasscutter Farming in Nigeria

Grasscutter Farming; A Complete Guide on How to Start Grasscutter Farming in Nigeria

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Are you searching for information on how to start a grasscutter farming venture in Nigeria? Then you’re in the perfect spot as this grasscutter farming guide will teach you everything you need to know about grasscutter farming techniques in Nigeria.

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Grasscutter Farming – An Introduction

Animal farming has always been an important aspect of the Nigerian agricultural sector.

Over the years, we experienced the rearing of farm animals like cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry, and the likes.

But one animal whose rearing hasn’t gained as much popularity as it should is the grasscutter.

Commercial grasscutter farming in Nigeria is a highly lucrative business, and you might want to look into it if you want to be unique in the world of animal rearing.

Read on if you want to find out more about grasscutters and how to start grasscutter farming in Nigeria.

Related: Cucumber Farming in Nigeria; Complete Guide on How to Start (2021)

Grasscutters

The Greater Cane Rat (Thryonomys swinderianus), popularly known as Grasscutter is a wild herbivore generally found in the riverbeds and swamps of sub-Saharan Africa.

In size, they are second only to Porcupines in the rodent family.

However, they do not possess long pointy spikes like their immediate cousins.

Species of Grasscutters are captured and reared mainly for their meat, which is highly-stacked with protein, therefore making it of great economic value.

Grasscutter in Yoruba is known as “Oya”.

Grass cutter animals proliferate in large numbers and very quickly too.

A mature female Grasscutter has a gestation period of 140 – 150 days (5 months or approximately 22 weeks).

They may deliver two times annually, giving birth to an average of four to seven offspring each time, and in some cases, up to ten.

In other words, a single mature female grasscutter can produce between 4 to 20 offspring in a year.

Since it can be quite difficult to capture these animals, rearing them in domestication is the better option to access their meat.

Facts You Should Know about Grasscutters

  • Their limbs, fur, tails, and skin can detach easily, making it difficult to capture and handle them
  • Grasscutters are quick runners and swimmers
  • They live above ground and are nocturnal in nature
  • Grasscutter fur color ranges from a mixture of brown-reddish and gray hairs that vary depending on its habitat, depending on their habitat.
  • These rodents can live up to 4 years in captivity.
  • They have relatively poor vision. However, they possess impressive hearing and a great sense of smell.
  • They are important pests of cane fields – hence the name Cane Rats in some regions. They are also known to mainly feed on grasses.
  • A fully mature female grasscutter may weigh up to 3.5 kg, while a fully mature male may weigh up to 4.5kg.
  • The Suckling period for baby grasscutters is 40 days (6 weeks) before weaning
  • Grass cutters live in colonies. A grasscutter colony in captivity consists of one male and three to four females. In the wild, a single male can service up to ten female grasscutters.
  • Two males cannot co-exist in one colony, so never put two male grasscutters in a single colony.
  • The presence of a male grasscutter triggers the ovulation periods of the females.

How to Start Grasscutter Rearing in Nigeria

Grasscutter farming/rearing in Nigeria is steadily becoming a lucrative animal farming option in the country and Africa as a whole.

Grasscutter farming in Ghana is also quite lucrative.

This is due to the great taste of grasscutter meat and its rarity in the market.

Grasscutter and rabbit farming have some similar principles, but they are not the same.

Grasscutter rearing is more popular in rural areas because of the availability of grasscutters in the region.

Moreover, businesses operating in the urban regions are mostly big-time companies and white-collar establishments.

Related: Complete List of Top Multinational Companies in Nigeria

In this article, you will learn some of the best grasscutter farming and management practices in Nigeria.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you will have learned all about grasscutter farming in Nigeria.

Think of it as a free grasscutter farming manual for beginners.

Note that you may need to hire or seek advice from a grasscutter farming expert for some practical aspects of this venture.

Advantages of Rearing Grasscutter in Nigeria

Requires Little Capital to Start

Compared to rearing other animals like goats, cattle, pigs, sheep, and even chickens, kickstarting a grasscutter rearing business in Nigeria requires only a little capital to start.

You can begin your grasscutter rearing journey with as low as 50,000 Naira, and you can upscale with time.

High Market Demand

Grasscutter meat, also known as bushmeat is widely eaten by many Nigerians and Africans. Its meat is one of a kind, and many people crave to have a taste.

However, grasscutters are not as common as other sources of meat like chicken, pig, and cattle, which makes their meat rare in the market. This rarity makes grasscutter meat of high demand in the market.

Relatively Cheap to Maintain

After purchasing your grasscutters, you don’t need to break the bank to keep or maintain them.

If you’re starting with one colony (one male and three to four females), you will only need to construct a small pen which won’t cost much.

Also, you can feed them with grasses and other relatively cheap supplements.

Combines Well with Crop Farming

Since grasscutters will eat grasses and other crops like rice, corn, millet, and so on, you can easily combine it with crop farming.

Instead of having to buy or source for feed for these animals, you can just take some of the proceeds of your crop farm and feed it to them.

This will also help in minimizing losses when you cannot store excess harvests and would’ve otherwise sold at cheap prices.

No Taboo

Everyone eats grasscutter meat.

There are no known religious or tribal constraints on the consumption of grasscutter meat in Nigeria, unlike other meat products like pork and even beef.

This widens the customer base for grasscutter meat.

Grasscutters are Relatively Clean Animals

Compared to other animals, grasscutters are clean animals. They do not urinate or excrete a lot, and grasscutter cages aren’t usually overwhelmed with foul smells. This means you can keep them close to the house to properly monitor them without being scared of horrid odors.

Feasibility Study for Grasscutter Farming in Nigeria

Formulating a business plan and conducting a feasibility study will put you on the right path in your grasscutter farming journey.

You have to consider all the key elements that control the dynamics of running a successful grasscutter farm by looking into past data and learning from established grasscutter farmers in Nigeria.

This step will help you prepare for possible threats and challenges, and other things like market value, and how to sell your grasscutters to make profits when they become mature.

So, conduct a grasscutter feasibility study and draft a business plan before starting any grasscutter farming procedure.

Note: It is advisable to start with one or two grasscutter colonies. This will help you understand the venture and learn from the experience at little or no risk. You can upscale as time goes on.

Grasscutter Housing

The best way of rearing grasscutters is in an intensive care system.

You cannot leave grasscutters to wander as you could do for cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens.

The method of housing could either be a cage or a specially-designed shed.

Grasscutters in captivity can be sensitive to certain environmental conditions, which can negatively affect their growth.

This is why their housing/habitat must be constructed according to certain specifications.

Specifications for Grasscutter Housing

For sheds:

  • Properly roofed pens with wire hutches
  • Proper aeration and lightening
  • The length of the shed should be 1.5 m tall, with the upper half covered with chicken wire.
  • Close proximity to a clean water source
  • Easily accessible
  • Far from noise and thick bushes
  • Materials for the shed can be straw, bamboo, or bricks. The roof can be made up straw, corrugated iron, or any other water-proof material.  

The size of the building is dependent on the number of grass-cutters to be reared and production objectives. To put this in perspective, here’s an example:

The space required for a colony of reproductive grasscutters comprising one adult male and four females is 1.6m to 2 m.

For cages/pens:

Grasscutter farming cages represent a more conservative housing system for grasscutters.

In this case, the grasscutters live in pens constructed inside the shed.

The farmer’s production objectives will determine the number of pens. 

The recommended protocol is to have one breeding female per pen.

The recommended surface area per mature grasscutter in the pen is 0.2 m2.

You can construct different pens for different purposes and stages of grasscutter growth.

For example:

  • A pen for mating
  • A pen for adults
  • Pen for giving birth and feeding the young
  • A pen for fattening young grasscutters

Metal or concrete are the preferred materials to construct grasscutter rearing pens.

However, note that metal pens will be moveable, while concrete pens will be fixed and therefore, immovable.

It is advisable not to use bamboo and straw as Grasscutters can eat through them and escape into the wild.

Also make sure that there is enough room for grasscutters to move from one pen to another.

Types of Grasscutter Pens

In addition, there can be two types of grasscutter pens;

Open Pen:

This describes a type of pen without any roof above it.

Specifications for construction include a surface area of 3m2 and a height of 1.5m.

Open pens also come with an opening on the side that leads to the aisle, thereby creating easy access to the grasscutters for the farmer.

Closed Pen

In contrast to an open pen, a closed pen will have a roof over it and it will be divided into various compartments.

Specifications for construction include a surface area between 2 and 3m2 and a wall height of 0.8 m.

Note: Pens with two compartments should have the same surface area specifications. The compartments should be separated with partitions, with a 15 cm opening to allow the grasscutters to move from one compartment to another.

Grasscutter Breeding

Breeding is a vital aspect of grasscutter rearing in Nigeria as it may affect the health and nature of future grasscutter populations on your farm.

Here are some things to note about grasscutter breeding:

  1. Selecting random grasscutters for breeding is wrong. You must carefully select healthy, agile, and robust grasscutters for breeding.
  2. Never pick a grasscutter directly from the wild for breeding. Rather, select one from a reputable breeding center or farm.
  3. Breeding selection pairs should be based on weight (best picks are between 5kg and 8kg). Selected females should have almost the same weight, while the males must be 0.5 to 0.1 kg heavier than the females.
  4. Never select closely related male and female grasscutters for breeding.

Grasscutter Feeding

You need to design a suitable feeding formula for your grasscutters if you want them to grow to maximum size.

Grasscutters will eat dried or fresh grass, however, they prefer their grasses green.

Grasses like Pennisetum purpurem (Elephant Grass) and Panicum maximum (Guinea grass) can be fed to grasscutters.

Other forage products that can be fed to grasscutters are stylo, rice, sorghum, cassava, potato, Moringa, yam peels, corn, millet, powdered oyster, snail or eggshells, with bone meal and cooking salt, ripe or unripe fruit, the bark of certain trees, and pods from black-eyed peas.  

These can be supplemented with proteins, wheat offal, soybean meal, and vitamin premix.

A forage-only-based diet will lead to retarded growth and a drastic reduction in milk production in lactating mothers, which may lead to infections.

Of course, clean water should always be available for the grasscutters.

Note: Avoid feeding grasscutters with damp or wet grass fodder. Ensure that you sundry grass fodder at least 24 hours before feeding them to the animals.

Feeding Formula for Grasscutters.

For Young Grasscutters:

IngredientQuantity (kg)
Bone Meal1.5
Soybean Meal34.9
Cassava34.1
Salt0.5
Vitamin Premix3
Wheat Offal26
TOTAL100

For Growers and Adult Grasscutters

IngredientQuantity (kg)
Bone Meal1.5
Soybean Meal24.9
Cassava39.1
Salt0.5
Vitamin Premix3
Wheat Offal31
TOTAL100

Common Diseases of Grasscutters

Diseases are probably the number one enemy of any farming practice, whether it be for plants or animals.

The same is the case here for Grasscutters.

These diseases can have adverse effects on grasscutter health and can go as far as killing them.

When grasscutter populations start to dwindle or reproduction levels are low, it affects the overall revenue and every good businessman or woman wants to avoid that.

Here are some of the most common diseases of Grasscutters:

  • Coccidiosis caused by an apicomplexan protozoa of the Eimeria family.
  • Staphylococeamia caused by Staphylococcus aureus
  • Enterotoxemiacaused by Clostridium perfringes
  • Pneumonia caused by Diplococcus pneumoniae

Measures against Grasscutter Diseases

The best way to deal with grasscutter diseases is to deploy preventive measures.

That way, you don’t have to deal with any disease consequences.

Here are some preventive measures against grasscutter diseases:

Proper Handling

Body parts of grasscutters like the fur, limbs, tail, and skin can detach or get damaged easily.

To avoid these, simply handle grasscutters with care.

For large adult grasscutters, you can use squeeze cages to move them, instead of using your hands.

Maintaining Proper Hygiene

Grasscutters should live in a clean and sterile environment.

Hygiene eliminates the danger of pathogenic microorganisms and parasites that will harm the grasscutters.

Proper hygienic conditions are achieved through thorough disinfection of the grasscutter habitats.

Here are some disinfectants suitable for grasscutter habitats and equipment:
  • Bleach + detergent: Dilute in water
  • Household soap: Dilute in water
  • Disinfectant detergent: 4% solution in water (40 ml in 1 L of water)
  • Quicklime: Dilute in water
  • Bleach: 10% solution in water (100 ml in 1 L of water)

Disinfect the pens or sheds at least once a week.

Strict Quarantine Measures

When you introducing new grasscutters from outside the pen, keep the new animals in quarantine to prevent the possible transfer of diseases into existing colonies

Sweetened Lemon Juice

Giving sweetened lemon juice to grasscutters boosts their immune system and hence, their resilience to diseases.

Simply add 55 sugar lumps and two large glasses of pure lemon juice (or 400 ml) to 20 L of water.

Daily Inspection Routines

You need to monitor the health of your grasscutters at different intervals during the day. That way, you will be able to spot abnormalities early and take proactive measures to prevent them from escalating further.

Treatment of Grasscutter Diseases

Sometimes, despite the preventive measures, it is possible that you still face grasscutter diseases.

You need to be able to administer some form of treatment before reaching out to a veterinarian.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you may have a real problem on your hands and you need to act fast to deal with it.

Symptoms of Diseases and their Treatments in Grasscutters

Some of these symptoms of diseases and their treatments in grasscutters include:

Lethargic Behavior

Give sweetened lemon juice.

If you notice no positive changes, administer antibiotics.

Physically examine the grasscutter for cuts, lesions, or abscesses.

Lack of appetite

Give sweetened lemon juice, check teeth for wear and check quality of food.

Death

Disinfect the pen and dispose of the dead grasscutter.

If young suckling grasscutters are the victims, check for cold conditions and availability of food for the mothers.

Dull or Matted Fur

Check for cold and damp conditions and check for regularities in feeding.

Paralysis

Discard the animal.

Coughing

Check for cold and damp conditions. If any, create protection for the grasscutters from them. Give antibiotics and check the powdery quality of feed concentrates

Soft or Liquid Faeces

Administer antibiotics, check feed quality, and give more fiber diets.

Other disease symptoms in grasscutters may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Inflammation of body parts
  • Lump under the skin
  • Inability to give birth
  • Inability to move

If these symptoms persist, you may need to secure the services of a vet doctor.

Handling Grasscutters

Despite their wild nature, Grasscutters have very tender body parts that can detach or get damaged easily if not handled properly.

If you want to reduce or prevent grasscutter injuries, you must learn how to handle them the right way.

Here’s how:

For light grasscutters:

Lift the animal by holding the base of its tail. Then, grab its back with the other hand without squeezing too hard.

Now, you’ll have the grasscutter on its back, with its tail stretched out simultaneously.

For medium-sized grasscutters:

Lift the grasscutter by its tail and by grabbing its back simultaneously.

This is done to reduce the weight on the tail – lest it detaches.

Then, you can turn the animal on its back.

For large, heavy grasscutters:

Simply move them around with a squeeze cage.

These techniques of handling a grasscutter are not as easy as they sound.

This is because while lifting them, grasscutters may get agitated and make sudden movements that may force you to make mistakes.

It will take a lot of practice and experience to fully master how to handle a grasscutter.

Recordkeeping in Grasscutter Farming

Be it in grasscutter rearing or in any business venture in the world, recordkeeping is an activity that will put you in firm control of your finances and other activities going on.

It is recommended that each grasscutter have a personal file or reference card which will contain information such as pen number, age, sex, and its origin (parent breed or source farm).

For males, specific information such as the date of mating and the number of female mating partners should be recorded.

For females, specific information such as date of mating and delivery, date of positive gestation test, and the number of male mating partners should be recorded.

Sale of Grasscutters

You can place your grasscutter for sale and grasscutter colony for sale on different markets and platforms in Nigeria. Typically, a single grasscutter can be sold for as high as 6,000 naira, while a colony of grasscutters can be sold for as high as 50,000 naira.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Grasscutter Farming in Nigeria

How Long does it take a Grasscutter to Mature?

Between 5 to 6 months.

Grasscutters grow and mature really fast.

They reach sexual maturity within the first 5 to 6 months of rearing them.

At this age, they can give birth to as high as 12 offspring per year and you can also sell them for their meat.

How Profitable is Grasscutter Farming?

Highly profitable

In the absence of any casualties and the number of grasscutters you have grown to maturity, grasscutter farming profits may run into millions every year.

A single grasscutter can be sold for as high as 6,000 Naira in the market today.

Imagine the profits if you sell 100 adult grasscutters twice in one year.

So, to answer the question of “How lucrative is grasscutter farming in Nigeria?”

We say it is highly lucrative.

How Many Babies can Grasscutter give Birth to?

Healthy female grasscutters may produce between 3 and 6 offspring, but typically 4.

They can give birth twice in one year (two litters per year).

How Do You Take Care of a Grass Cutter?

Proper grasscutter care is important to their health and growth.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Provide them with a balanced diet (forage, concentrates, vitamins) and clean water at all times.
  • Clean their habitat with disinfectants like bleach (10% solution in water), bleach + detergent, household soap, diluted quicklime, and disinfectant detergent.
  • Feed the grasscutters with sweet lemon juice from time to time, especially when they show signs of weakness. It boosts their immunity.
  • Handle them gently to avoid detachment or tearing of their body parts.

How Much is Grasscutter in Ghana?

In Ghana grasscutters have a market value of between 60 and 100 Gc.

This converts to about 40$ or over 25,000 naira.

What Does Grasscutter Feed on?

Grasscutters feed on a wide range of substances, but mostly forage and concentrates.

Some of them are:

  • Annual grasses like Gamba grass and Buffalo grass, and
  • Perennial grasses like Panicum maximum (Guinea grass) and Pennisetum purpureum (Elephant grass).
  • They also consume Moringa oleifera, legumes like Stylo and Gliricidia sepium.

Grasscutters also feed on agricultural by-products like garden waste, kitchen leftovers, and dried sunflower, cereals grains like rice, corn, millet and sorghum, roots and tubers like potato, yam or cassava pellets, peels, and scraps.

They can also be fed snail or eggshells, powdered oyster, bone meal, and cooking salt.

Other grasscutter-edible products are ripe or unripe fruits, some tree barks, bamboo shoots, and the trunk of papaya trees.

Does Grasscutter Eat Cassava?

YES.

Grasscutters can eat the peels, tubers, and even leaves of cassava plants.

Cassava farmers often dread the presence of grasscutters on their farms, because they know these animals will feed on their plants.

Is Grasscutter a Red Meat?

NO.

One of the many advantages of grasscutter meat is that it is white meat.

Eating white meat is considered a viable alternative to red meat, especially because it reduces blood cholesterol levels.

How Much does a Grass Cutter Cost?

Between 4,500 and 6,000 naira.

With the current state of the country and the high demand and market rarity of grasscutter meat, the price of a single grasscutter may fall between 4,500 and 6,000 naira.

A colony of grasscutters can be sold for a value between 35,000 and 50,000 naira or higher.

How Much is Grasscutter in Nigeria?

One grasscutter in Nigeria has a market value of between 4,500 and 6,000 Naira.

A colony of grasscutters which often includes up to 5 grasscutters may cost as high as 50,000 naira or more.

Which Animal is Grasscutter?

The grasscutter (Thryonomys swinderianus) is known by many names; Greater Cane Rat, hedgehog, groundhog, Cane Rat, the Agouti, and many more.

It is one of two species of the genus Thryonomys, with the other being Thryonomys gregorianus.

Grasscutters are of African origin and are herbivores.

They eat a wide range of plant products, which could be anything from grasses to leaves, fruits, seeds, peels, barks, and so on.

Grasscutter fur’s color ranges from a mixture of brown-reddish and gray hairs that vary based on their habitat.

Cane rats are fairly large animals and the second-largest in the rodent family.

Grasscutters are fast runners and quick swimmers, which makes them difficult to capture.

They are often reared for their meat, commonly known as bushmeat in Nigeria.

What is Grasscutter called in Yoruba?

Oya

Grasscutters have many other names, even in the English language.

However, they are known as “Oya” in the Yoruba language.

The terminology is often used to describe someone who runs really fast.

Are there Any Grasscutter Farms in Lagos?

YES.

There are many grasscutter farms and farmers in Lagos State, Nigeria.

All you need to do is look in the right places and ask questions to find them.

Grasscutter farming in Lagos can be a huge deal, especially with the right capital, time, and tools.

Grasscutter farming in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory is also a thing.

Conclusion on Grasscutter Farming

The grasscutter farming techniques described in this article will go a long way in your journey as a grasscutter farmer.

However, know that this grasscutter farming manual is not all you will need to become an expert grass cutter farmer in Nigeria.

You will need to download and study free step-by-step images on how to start grasscutter farming, as well as watch grasscutter farming videos from various sources.

Grasscutter farming is a lucrative business, and it can make you a millionaire.

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