Guinea pig farming is a branch of animal husbandry and management that deals with the keeping and rearing of domesticated guinea pigs for their fur and meat. Guinea Pig farming is a highly profitable and sustainable business and anyone can start anywhere.
Guinea pigs are small bodied, furry domesticated farm animals. They are closely related to rabbits. They are small mammals with large bodies, small legs and feet and with no tail. Guinea pigs did not originate from guinea and are not related to pigs in any way contrary to what the name suggests, but they were however named guinea pigs because they squeal and grunt like pigs.
They are also known as cavy. They are herbivorous as they eat grasses, leaves, vegetables etc. A mature guinea pig is about 10-12 inches long and it matures quickly within the space of 3-5 months.
Benefits of guinea pig farming.
They have low feeding costs: Guinea pigs are herbivores which means that their diet consists of vegetables, fruits, grasses and legumes. These are always readily available and can easily be gotten from nature or alternatively, the local market. They are relatively cheap and this makes the costs of feeding Guinea pigs rather inexpensive and very economical. Listed below are some of the benefits of Guinea Pig Farming.
They are ideal for livestock management: Guinea pigs are easy to rear as they can be tamed and domesticated easily. They require little start up capital and they grow and breed quickly than other livestock. They also have a long life span of up till 4-7 years which makes them serve as the ideal farm animals to keep.
They are excellent meat producers: The meat of guinea pigs is similar to rabbit and chicken meat in its nutritional value. Guinea pigs produce a good amount of delicious, healthy, tasty and highly nutritious meat. Their meat is relatively low in fats and cholesterol, but high in protein and other nutrients which makes it constitute an essential part of most people’s diet.
For scientific uses in hospitals and laboratories: Guinea pigs are widely used in hospitals and laboratories due to their gentle nature. They are used for testing serums, antitoxins and other experiments because their body system readily and easily adapts and adjusts to internal body changes than other animals. They are easy to handle in the laboratory without the fear of them getting out of hand.
They can be kept as pets: Guinea pigs are the ideal animals to keep as pets as they are small, harmless, don’t bite or scratch people and their ability to be easily tamed and handled. They are often considered clean animals as they don’t produce offensive odors. Guinea pigs that are raised exclusively for pet keeping are usually sold at higher prices than those reared for their meat.
They are excellent breeders: Guinea pigs are good breeders as they breed early i.e. as early as 5weeks. The gestation period for a guinea pig varies based on the breed but an average guinea pig gestation period lasts for 65-75 days. A mature guinea pig can produce up to 6 litters per year with each litter consisting of 3-5 piglets. Their breeding is unrestricted as they don’t have a specific breeding period and can breed all year round.
It has a large market demand: Laboratories, hospitals, pet keepers and the people who consume guinea pig meat constitute a very large market for guinea pig. This makes the guinea pig farming business a very lucrative and profitable business which generates huge turnovers due to its large demand from its market, who require guinea pig for one purpose or the other.
They produce manure for farmers: Guinea pigs produce wastes or excreta which serve as good organic manure. The manure when applied on the farm serves to improve the level of organic matter and nutrients present in the soil as they contain phosphorus and nitrogen.
Feeding the guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs are herbivores which mean that they are strict vegetarians. For their optimum growth and health, they require a balanced diet which consists of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grasses and roughages. They have low feeding costs as their feeds cheap and readily available. Guinea pigs have a simple, single chambered stomach with bacteria present so as to aid digestion.
Pigs cannot produce vitamin c but they require both vitamin c and fiber to be present in their foods. Feeds for guinea pigs that are a good source of vitamin c are vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers etc.
Alternatively, guinea pigs could also be fed fresh grass hay with vegetable supplements like cucumber, spinach, lettuce etc. or already made guinea pig feeds. They should be fed at least once a day daily and should be provided with good, drinkable water.
Types of cages for guinea pigs for Guinea Pig Farming
There are two systems of keeping or housing guinea pigs. These are;
The hutch or cage system for Guinea Pig Farming: This system involves raising, rearing and keeping of guinea pigs in cages. The cages are usually constructed with a wire mesh or netting, so as to allow proper ventilation. The wire mesh will help to prevent injuries to the feet of the guinea pigs and also offer protection from predators. However, the cage should be spacious enough so as to ensure proper air circulation and to accommodate as much as 4 guinea pigs at once i.e. 1male, 3 females.
Practicing Guinea Pig Farming in a pen: This involves raising guinea pigs in an enclosed open space. The area should be fenced to prevent predators and the guinea pigs escaping. The floor of the pen should be prepared with wood shavings and sawdust for easy cleaning. The floor should be cleaned and the shavings and sawdust replaced once a week to prevent the growth and spread of diseases.
Breeds of guinea pigs
The various breeds of guinea pigs suitable for farming are listed below. They are;
Coronet, sheba, texel, rex, american, Abyssinian, alpaca, baldwin, Himalayan, lunkanya, merino guimea pigs.
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