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The Rabbitry Revolution: Gigi Morris’ Journey from Fine Dining to Farming in Batangas

In the quaint town of Padre Garcia, Batangas, a unique rabbitry is thriving under the watchful eyes of Fil-American entrepreneur Gigi Morris. Her journey from the glitzy casinos of Las Vegas to the lush countryside of the Philippines has transformed her into a successful rabbit farmer and a pioneer in providing rabbit meat to fine dining restaurants.

An Unconventional Idea Sparks a Business

Gigi Morris was miles away from Batangas when the idea for her rabbit farming venture first hopped into her mind. While browsing for rabbit pets for her family’s one-hectare farm in Padre Garcia, she encountered a rabbit farm owner from San Antonio, Quezon, willing to part with his rabbits for a discounted price. This fortuitous encounter marked the inception of her unique rabbit business.

rabbitry-in-Batangas
Robby Rabbitry in Padre Garcia, Batangas

Upon her return to the Philippines, Morris purchased 120 rabbits and started breeding them. Intending to target culinary chefs and fine dining establishments, she offered rabbit meat samples to celebrity chefs, encouraging them to create rabbit-based dishes. The chefs, in turn, showcased their culinary prowess by transforming these samples into delectable rabbit creations. This grassroots marketing strategy quickly gained momentum, and word-of-mouth referrals became the primary source of her clientele.

Kuneho Festival: Celebrating the Rabbitry

Morris organized the first-ever Kuneho Festival at her farm three months after returning to the Philippines in July 2012. The festival was a grand showcase of rabbit meat and an opportunity for the public to learn about rabbit farming. The Morris family opened their doors, offering farm tours, lectures, and the chance to taste various rabbit dishes prepared by celebrity chefs. The festival was a significant milestone in promoting rabbit meat as a fine dining delicacy.

The Robby Rabbitry Farm: A Growing Success

Gigi Morris’ vision and dedication have catapulted her Robby Rabbitry Farm into one of the Philippines’ leading rabbit meat producers. Her farm generates a monthly income of at least ₱5,000, selling approximately 10 rabbits and meat during the first year of its operation in 2012. Rabbit meat is typically sold at farmgate prices ranging from ₱350 to ₱450 per kilogram, while dressed rabbits weighing around 1.5 kilos command prices of ₱550 per kilogram. This thriving business is a testament to the potential of the local rabbit industry and Morris’ unwavering belief in her product.

Raising Rabbits: Easy and Rewarding

As Morris points out, raising rabbits is surprisingly straightforward. A single doe can produce eight to twelve kittens in a mere 30-day gestation period. With 40 rabbits (20 males and 20 females), you can expect up to 240 kittens per month, totaling 720 for three breeding cycles annually. However, it is vital to pay attention to their diet, as rabbits have sensitive digestive systems. A sudden change in their diet can make them susceptible to illness, so any dietary alterations must be gradual.

Cooking Rabbit: A Culinary Delight

The rabbit meat world is divided into two categories: fryers and stewers. Fryers are young rabbits aged four to seven months, boasting tender and fine-grained meat. On the other hand, stewers are at least eight months old, with less tender but still delicious meat, featuring a firm and coarse grain. Chefs have embraced these distinctions, using them to create a diverse range of rabbit-based dishes, each with its unique flavor and texture.

The Robby Rabbitry’s Contribution to Agro-Tourism

Gigi Morris has revolutionized the local rabbit industry and played a pivotal role in promoting agro-tourism in Batangas. The Kuneho Festival and farm tours at the Robby Rabbitry Farm have opened doors for the public to explore the world of rabbit farming and appreciate the culinary possibilities that rabbit meat offers. Visitors, food enthusiasts, and curious individuals alike can witness the passion and hard work that go into maintaining this thriving business while also learning about the importance of responsible and sustainable farming.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Rabbit Farming in the Philippines

1. What is rabbit farming, and why is it gaining popularity in the Philippines?

Rabbit farming involves the breeding, raising, and selling rabbits for various purposes, including meat, fur, and pets. In the Philippines, rabbit farming is gaining popularity due to the increasing demand for rabbit meat, considered a healthy and sustainable source of protein. It is also appreciated for its low-fat content and mild, delicate flavor.

2. Can I start a rabbit farm as a small-scale venture in the Philippines?

Yes, rabbit farming can be started as a small-scale venture in the Philippines. It’s an excellent option for individuals with limited space and resources. You can begin with a few rabbits and gradually expand your farm as you gain experience.

3. What are the basic requirements for starting a rabbit farm in the Philippines?

To start a rabbit farm, you’ll need:

  • Suitable housing or cages for your rabbits.
  • Adequate space for them to exercise.
  • Quality rabbit feed and water supply.
  • Proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
  • Knowledge of rabbit care and breeding.

4. What rabbit breeds are suitable for farming in the Philippines?

Common rabbit breeds raised for meat in the Philippines include New Zealand White, California White, and Flemish Giant. These breeds are known for their fast growth and excellent meat quality. The choice of breed may depend on your specific goals and local conditions.

5. Is rabbit farming profitable in the Philippines?

Rabbit farming can be profitable in the Philippines if managed efficiently. The key to profitability is a consistent market for rabbit meat and products. Establishing partnerships with local restaurants and chefs can be beneficial for selling your rabbit meat.

6. What are the key factors to consider when caring for rabbits on a farm?

Proper housing, nutrition, disease prevention, and breeding management are essential factors. Ensure the rabbits have clean, comfortable living conditions, access to fresh water, and a balanced diet. Regular health checks and vaccinations are also crucial for disease prevention.

7. Can rabbits be raised as pets in the Philippines?

Yes, many people in the Philippines raise rabbits as pets. They are low-maintenance and can be a great option for families looking for a unique and gentle pet. However, proper care, including a clean environment and a suitable diet, is essential.

8. How do I market and sell rabbit meat and products in the Philippines?

You can market and sell rabbit meat and products through various channels, including:

  • Local markets and farm-to-table sales.
  • Establishing relationships with restaurants and chefs.
  • Online platforms and social media to reach a wider audience.
  • Participating in local fairs, festivals, or agricultural events.

9. Are any legal regulations or permits required for rabbit farming in the Philippines?

You should check with your local government or agricultural authorities for any specific regulations related to rabbit farming. In some cases, permits may be required for certain aspects of the business, such as selling meat products.

10. What challenges should I know when starting a rabbit farm in the Philippines?

Some challenges include disease management, fluctuating market demand, and competition from other meat sources. Adequate knowledge and research are essential to overcome these challenges and establish a successful rabbit farming business.

11. Can you recommend any resources or organizations that can help me get started with rabbit farming in the Philippines?

You can seek assistance from local agricultural extension offices, agricultural universities, and organizations that promote small-scale livestock farming. Additionally, online forums, books, and educational resources on rabbit farming can provide valuable information and guidance.

Starting a rabbit farm in the Philippines can be rewarding, providing a unique and sustainable source of meat and other products while contributing to the growing demand for this healthy protein source. It’s essential to gather as much information as possible, develop a solid business plan, and stay committed to the well-being of your rabbits and the success of your farm.

The Bottom Line

Gigi Morris’ journey from the glitz of Las Vegas to the countryside of Padre Garcia, Batangas, is an inspirational tale of turning an unconventional idea into a thriving business. Her determination, belief in her product, and the support of local culinary chefs have transformed the rabbit farming industry and have made rabbit meat a sought-after delicacy in fine dining establishments. The Robby Rabbitry Farm stands as a testament to the potential of agro-tourism and the culinary artistry of the Philippines, and Gigi Morris is undoubtedly leading the charge.

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