Grass Cutter Farming, Goldmine Waiting For You To Tap | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Grass Cutter Farming, Goldmine Waiting For You To Tap

Posted: May 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)



Grass cutter, or giant cane rat, is a wild animal of the rodent family, a popular delicacy in many parts of Nigeria and other African countries. The meat of grass cutter is very delicious and hard to come by. This makes it very expensive. In towns and urban centres there are some designated ‘joints’ where grass cutter meat is served and they are always crowd pullers.

I have not seen anybody who does not like anu nchi, as is called in Igbo language, or oya in Yoruba. Some call it “bush meat.”

It goes very well with palm wine. It is one game every hunter prays to bag in a hunting expedition because it is sure to fetch him handsome returns when sold.

In the village people hunt for it in different ways. Some hunters use guns to kill them, some employ trained dogs and others set traps or snares, while others set fire on the bush in dry season to force them out into the open and kill them.

However, the good news now is that you can as well use your backyard, fallow land, uncompleted building or build cages to rear them to make a lot of money for yourself and your family.

Anyone who ventures into it and does the business diligently will in no time smile to the bank. This is no exaggeration.

Facts About Grass Cutter

Grass cutters are reared only for meat. They could be raised in a small space at home. It is a business you could do neatly at home without anybody knowing because it is environment-friendly, unlike poultry, piggery and other forms of livestock production.

It requires low start-up capital but delivers high return on investment. Feeding costs almost nothing as their diet is mainly grass. It has 154 days or five months gestation period. They live in a colony of three or four. They do not stay alone in cages and they do not sleep where they eat. They require separate dining and sleeping spaces.

Grass cutters are easy and cheap to rear. It does not require medical expenses to keep healthy. All that is needed is a high level of hygiene in their handling.


Nigeria, with its large population, is a big market for grass cutters because of the increasing demand for protein. Grass cutter meat is a delicacy that is very high in protein and low in cholesterol. Other livestock sources of protein such as poultry are sometimes problematic due to high operational cost in terms of feeds, logistics and other inputs.

Apart from ‘special joints’ a grass cutter farmer can take orders from hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, eateries, clubs, industries and individuals.

Grass cutter meat can be prepared and packaged in form of pepper soup, roasted meat,suya, dry meat or frozen meat. It can also be packaged for the international market. The grass cutter farmer can also make tons of money training potential farmers and organising excursions for students.

Housing and Breeding

Grass cutters can be reared in two ways: free range and confinement or cage system. It is better to house them in family groups of four to five females (does) and a male (buck).  Understand that the males have a permanent urge for sex while the females only have urge for sex when they are on heat.

Free Range

The advantages of free range system are that it is less expensive to construct and almost costs nothing to feed the animals as all their feeding requirements are in the enclosure. The disadvantages are indiscriminate mating because of inbreeding and they are prone to attacks by predators such as snakes, pilferers, hawks and the vagaries of the weather. They are also prone to diseases.

Confinement Or Cage System

This entails specially designed cages or houses built for them. The size of the cages could be 180cm x 60cm and 45cm high to be protected from the sun and humidity, with an atmosphere that is normal, preferably under a shed.

The advantage of this method is that it offers them protection against theft, predators, makes it easy to inspect the animals but difficult for them to escape and ensures proper hygiene.The only disadvantage is that the cage could be expensive.

For a large commercial farm, the construction should be based on the principle that ensures high productivity, ventilation, sustenance and high return on investment.

The latest technology combines the major features of both the cage and the free range system. The floor is pre-cast in a slab capable of reserving feed for the grass cutters while the side demarcations should be constructed with strong iron mesh. This is to ensure that the animals are visible and give them a sense of natural habitat.

A gutter should be constructed round the structure. Engine oil, kerosene, or insecticide should be poured into the gutter to ward off predators such as snakes and soldier ants, termites, cats, dogs and even human beings.


Although grass cutters are herbivorous, food mainly grass from the bush, such as elephant grass and sugar cane, they also feed on tubers and other agricultural products in their habitation such as groundnut, yam and cassava tubers, cassava leaves, rice, cocoyam and sweet potatoes. It is also necessary to serve them supplementary feeds. They should be fed three times a day – morning afternoon and evening. Grass cutters do not drink much water but it is necessary to make clean water with salt available in the morning before you serve them feeds. Regular and balanced feeding are necessary for good health and reproduction.

The supplementary feed should give them a balanced diet – rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and mineral salts.

Sources of protein are groundnut, fishmeal, cassava leaves, roasted cowpea, soya beans etc. Sources of carbohydrates can be millet, wheat, maize, rice and sorghum. For fats you can give them palm kernel cake, groundnut cake or soya beans cake. Vitamins are found in mangoes, pineapples, paw-paw etc. Mineral salts can be found in table salt and snail shells.

In collecting forage for the grass cutters, avoid grass from swamps or close to the ground, or young grass.

Dry the forage collected in the sun to kill parasites and remove fermentation.  Collect them a day before they are served and avoid those that have dust or some filth.

Health, Diseases And Treatment

The health of the animals is dependent on strict hygiene and good feeding. Clean their pens or cages daily; leftover feeds can develop mould or attract termites and bacteria. Sweep them daily and supply fresh water daily. Sweep the cages before fresh forage is served.

Grass cutters suffer respiratory, dental and digestive diseases.  Respiratory diseases are caused by cold dust in the feed or in the stable or odour of urine in the pen. The symptoms are wet nose, constant sneezing and weak body. So avoid dust and cold. Treatment is by isolation of the sick animal and oxytetracycline in water.

Overfeeding of the animal with sugar cane can cause dental disease. The symptoms are inability to eat and quick emaciation. Treatment is by removing the affected molar.

Digestive disease can be caused by mouldy feed, parasites on forage collected early in the morning and eating of ripe fruits. The symptoms are inability to eat, weakness, emaciation and stools mixed with blood. The solution is to avoid collecting feeds from dirty environment, avoid mouldy and fermented feeds or young forage.


The gestation period of a grass cutter is between 150 to 155 days or five months. It can, therefore, reproduce twice yearly. A mature male can weigh 4.5kg while the female can weigh 3.5kg.

The right age for mating is about seven months for male and eight months for female.

A family of grass cutters is usually one male and four females and can cost about N50,000.

The business has the potential to make you rich.  It can create jobs for you and as many assistants as you may need, and give you a decent means of livelihood. Many Nigerians are already reaping bountifully from grass cutter farming. It is your turn to prosper. Right on!