Antelope farming is self-defining, self-explanatory and specifically aims at reducing the percentage of hungry people. Take a walk through your neighbourhood and count how many antelope farms there is, the result only shows that a reorientation is indeed needed; so many agricultural farmers and enthusiasts can consider this part of obtaining food for man and raw materials for manufacturing industries.
Antelope farming is indeed a workable agricultural sectionbecause these antelopes produce high quality meat and leather. While cattle select a limited number of grass species; antelopes choose a wider range. On the other hand, they generally require a cheaper diet than cattle. A more important thing is that antelopes are resistant to many diseases. Most, if not all, are resistant to trypanosomiasis, the disease carried by the tsetse fly.
Antelope farming in Nigeria: Getting started
With about a range of between N130,000 – N200,000, one can kick-start with one family of antelope called a pair. This comprises one male and one female. They are reared in a pen or free-range system.
It is advisable to buy them at the breeding stock stage of seven to eight months old. If you buy at this stage and rear them for six months, they will start making babies at 12 months and you can start making profit.
Antelope farming in Nigeria: Profile
Antelopes belong to the family of Bovidae and appear mainly in Africa. They occupy a wide variety of habitats, including dry scrubland, savannah and grassland. The grassland antelope typically weighs between eight and 10kg. They have a reddish-brown head, large eyes and ears, and a soft, brown coat that is grizzled with grey, black and white hair.
The eyes are ringed with white hair. Only the males have horns, but these might be hidden by a spiky forelock. Both males and females have an elongated, prehensile nose. Grassland antelopes tend to form monogamous mating pairs. The female bears one offspring after a gestation period of about five to six months.
Antelope farming in Nigeria: Home preparation
The least you might have as a breeding space might be somewhere of around 15m2 and no space is too wide. Just make sure their pen is fenced, dry, warm and adequately covered with fairly wide windows. Also it needs to go out from the pen (within the fenced area) daily and return at night.
Antelope farming in Nigeria: Feeding
In the wild arena, they feed mainly on leaves, buds, shoots, roots, tubers, grasses, fruits, etc. But in domestication, they are fed with forage, wide range of fresh green vegetables and pasture, grass, cabbage, carrots, kitchen craps, corn mill waste and locally formulated animal pellets/feed.
Antelopes also eat charcoal as this helps rearrange their tummy in case of a stomach upset. They also drink a lot of water.
Antelope farming in Nigeria: Market
From recreation centres, zoos, research institutes, game reserves, holiday resorts, ot children amusement parks, royal families, etc. the antelope is an animal of unique feature and this makes the rare animal tradable for tourist uses.
An added advantage is that many households and restaurants serve antelope meals as Nigerians are looking for the delicious and tasty bush meat.
The demand for antelope meat and especially the hide is higher than the hides of goats, sheep, alligators and pythons; with its accompanying price hike, making the prospect of antelope rearing very bright and encouraging either as a full-time or part-time job.
Antelopes are not only kept for their meat and tourist attraction, their skin, once tanned, can be exported to India, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain and China to be made into high-quality leather products such as handbags, shoes, wallets, belts, drums, upholstery materials and wristwatch straps. Their hides are simply going to become fashion accessories for the wealthy.