by Abasiofon Udo
The grasscutter (Thryonomys swinderianus) is a large rodent classified under the family Thryonomyidae. Exclusive to the African continent, it goes by different local names, such as Gouza (Hausa), Nchi (Igbo), and Oya (Yoruba).
Mature grasscutters typically measure around 66cm in body length and weigh between 7 and 15 pounds. They are often found in groups, living in areas with thick vegetation where they dig burrows for shelter.
Grasscutters are hardy animals and adapt well to various environmental conditions, making them suitable for agricultural production. However, exposure to stress or fright can lead to poor performance and high mortality rates.
While most grasscutters consumed in Nigeria are hunted in the wild, they can also be cultivated. Grasscutter farming has experienced significant growth in Nigeria, providing an essential source of income and livelihood for farmers.
Why Cultivate Grasscutters?
1. Cost Effectiveness:
Grasscutter farming is considered cost-effective and sustainable. These animals are herbivores, primarily feeding on grass and other vegetation. Unlike some other livestock that require grains or processed feeds, grasscutters mainly rely on natural forage, which is easier to obtain and more economical.
2. Low Space Requirements:
Their compact size and manageable housing needs make them suitable for small farming spaces, allowing individuals with limited land resources to engage in farming activities. Grasscutters do not require excessive space or complex housing structures, making the business convenient for small-scale farmers.
3. High Prolificacy:
Their prolific breeding nature ensures a consistent supply of offspring, contributing to an increase in numbers and, consequently, increased productivity. This rapid multiplication enables farmers to scale their operations swiftly, enhancing their potential for income generation.
4. Low Maintenance and Management:
Grasscutters are relatively low-maintenance animals. Their calm and peaceful nature makes it easier to handle and manage them. This is especially beneficial for individuals without prior knowledge of livestock cultivation or those with little to no experience, as it reduces the challenges of animal husbandry for beginners.
5. Nutritional Value and Market Demand:
Grasscutter meat is a rich source of animal protein and is in high demand for its nutritional value. The high protein and low cholesterol content make it a healthy choice for elderly consumers and health-conscious individuals seeking alternatives to red meat. The high market demand for this meat ensures a stable and potentially profitable business opportunity for grasscutter farmers.
6. Income Generation:
Grasscutter farming offers a viable income stream, providing financial stability and contributing to livelihood improvement for farmers.