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Breeding of cane rats for meat production

The meat of the cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus), a wild rodent, is greatly appreciated in western and central Africa. A cane rat breeding station was set up in Benin in the mid-1980s - the Benin-Germany Cane Rat Breeding Project -with support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). The station aims to develop cane rat breeding techniques for the production of meat, and to propagate a domesticated breed. This article discusses appropriate selection criteria for breeding and recommends that female breeding stock be classified according to a "breeding performance index", determined by litter size, offspring weight at weaning and interval between parturitions. The replacement of female breeding stock would be based on individual liveweight gain and breeding performance indexes. Male breeders should be judged according to their docility at 150 days, their daily liveweight gain between day 28 (weaning) and day 150, and the breeding performance index of the mother.

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