Nelly Bassily | May 19, 2014
Gomon Moïse Beucklerc sits in the shade of a large palm, which is heavy with coconuts. Mr. Beucklerc is building a six-compartment rabbit cage and the air is full of the sounds of metal sheets and bars being cut, and of nails being hammered into wood. For the last 20 years, he has raised rabbits in Grand-Bassam, a town 43 kilometres east of Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire.
Mr. Beucklerc grew tired of cleaning and maintaining his rabbit cages. So he decided to build his own cages that feature a system of gutters to dispose of waste. He explains: “This system allows [not only the] rapid removal of all waste and urine, [but] also the water used when cleaning.” When the cages proved successful, Mr. Beucklerc built more, and now sells them to other breeders.
He measures and cuts the wood, wire fencing and metal roofing sheets, and then constructs the cages. He says, “I finish off by installing gutters. Sometimes we add a pipette (an automatic drinking water system), when the customer requests it.”
Each cage he builds has a specific purpose. Mr. Beucklerc explains: “The cages that you see here – each has its role. There are cages for fattening; they are higher [from the ground]. Maternity cages are much deeper in order [for the rabbits] to make nests − the rabbits give birth in these boxes.”
The cages are raised off the ground, which better protects the rabbits from pests such as mice and army ants. Mr. Beucklerc buys his raw materials from traders in the local market. Each type of cage takes a different amount of time to build, and sells for between 50,000 and 180,000 Central African francs ($105-$380 US). He says: “The revenue generated … will help me expand my breeding, and also start up other projects such as raising pigs and chickens.”
Elie Kacou is one of Mr. Beaucklerc’s clients, and has been using his cages for a year. She says: “Since I started using these modern cages, I get less tired when cleaning and maintaining the cages – caring for the rabbits is easier as well.”
Mrs. Kacou believes the cages are more practical because they occupy less space. She also thinks that they better serve the welfare of the rabbits and their offspring, leading to healthier animals. She says, “It is also more cost-effective, because there are fewer deaths among rabbits.”
Guttered cages can also be used to breed rodents such as guinea pigs, white mice and many other small animals. Mr. Beucklerc says he has not encountered any major difficulties with the cages. Fellow breeders and others continue to place more orders. He wants to use the Internet to advertise his cages, particularly to fellow farmers, who sometimes take four to five days to clean their cages.