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THE LIFE OF 26-year-old Rico Bailey changed 11 years ago when he attended a school tour to Agrofest.


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THE LIFE OF 26-year-old Rico Bailey changed 11 years ago when he attended a school tour to Agrofest.

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At the time, he was a student of the St Lucy Secondary School, now called Daryll Jordan Secondary School. He said that during his agricultural studies at school, he learnt about different types of plants as well as animals such as cows. However, while at the local agricultural exhibition, it was the rabbit display which appealed the most to him, and from there his love for rabbits grew.

The eager student asked Frederick Butcher, better known as Freddie, the owner of the animals, to teach him more about rabbits. That weekend, he returned to

both days as Butcher requested, and from there his training began. Just over a decade later, the two continue to work together raising more than 80 rabbits at the Bonnetts Britton’s Hill farm.

Bailey, who is known to many as ‘The Rabbit Man’, credits Freddie for teaching him how to distinguish between male and female rabbits, how to check and clean their ears, as well as how to clip their nails.

He noted that most local rabbit farmers were older farmers, as most young farmers focused on raising poultry and livestock. However, rabbits were his love, and for him it was easy to care for them because as long as the rabbits had feed, water and a clean cage they would be happy.

At present, there are four different breeds of rabbits on the farm: English Spot, Californian, New Zealand Red Cross and Mini Rex rabbits. The Californian and New Zealand are bred by Freddie’s Rabbitry to meet the demands for rabbit meat locally; whereas the Mini Rex rabbits, which have a very soft fur coat, are bred to be sold as pets.

Since their first meeting at

Agrofest,

the two have returned to the exhibition together every year and have won several awards. This year they hope will be no exception, and the two are very excited.

Showing off his customised “Rabbitry” tee-shirt, Bailey explained that every year he sought to have shirts printed for their team to wear to Agrofest. This is done in order to give them a more professional appearance, despite the fact that they work with animals.

Sharing his vision for the future, the young farmer said that he hopes to one day have the largest rabbit farm in Barbados. Unfortunately, he has not been able to start his own farm as yet, because he lacked the space and capital to do so. “Right now, I just need the land to help me get started, to build something for them,” he said. “Then all I need is two rabbits because they breed fast.”

He further added that more young people needed to get involved in agriculture and attend Agrofest, as there is a lot to see and learn at the exhibition.

TWENTY-SIX YEAR-OLD Rico Bailey (left) discovered his love for rabbits when he met longtime rabbit farmer Freddie Butcher (right) at Agrofest 11 years ago. (At left)

Rico happily attending to the rabbits. (CSG)

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