What kind of impression do you have when you see snails stick to a tree stump, hide under stones or leaves? When you see them displayed in the market places, do you see them as animals cooked in your pot of soup?
Snail is seen everywhere, especially after the rain. But many people don’t know how to go about rearing it. Hence, in this article, I will explain to you;
• What snail farming is.
• The benefits of snail farming.
• The basic requirement of starting a snail farm.
What is snail farming?
Snail farming, also known as heliciculture or heliculture is the process of rearing land snails for human use, either to consume the flesh as edible snail (escargot), or snail eggs as a type of caviar, or to obtain snail slime for use in cosmetics.
In Nigeria, snail farming is one of the most lucrative, cost effective, and easy to run business practices that requires very little capital to run compared to other forms of agricultural practices. Snail farming is highly profitable in Nigeria, yet it is one of the most neglected animal rearing business in this country.
The benefit of snail farming to you as a Nigerian
Snail farming is a practicable and viable enterprise yet unexplored in Nigeria. Just like in other facets of farming in Nigeria, Nigerians are yet to discover the nice money making potential in snail rearing business. Below are some of the benefits.
• It is easy to run
• It is highly lucrative
• It is environmental friendly
• It is a good source of protein
• It contains iron, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, Low fat & cholesterol levels
• It is highly medicinal hence, it is used for health related products
• Snails are highly reproductive and are good export commodity
• The shell could be used for ornamental purposes.
The basic requirement of starting a snail farm in Nigeria
1. Suitable specie
There are so many species of snails but we will focus on the ones that are suitable for commercial Snail Farming in Nigeria. Three (3) popular types of snail species/breeds are commonly used for snail breeding in Nigeria. These are;
I. Archachatina Marginata
II. Achatina Achatina
III. Achatina Fulica
Archachatina marginata is peculiar to West Africa and is commonly referred to as giant West African snail. It is a species of air- land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Achatinidae. They produce up to 40 eggs in a single clutch and do produce 3 to 4 clutches in a year. They can grow up to 20cm long, and live up to 10 years.
Achatina Achatina is the second largest in the world and the second most popular breed in Nigeria.it is commonly known as the giant Ghana snail, also referred to as the giant tiger land snail, It can lay up to 200 to 500 eggs in a single clutch and can lay up to 3 to 5 clutches in a year, it also takes 21 to 28 days for the its egg to hatch. It takes between 4 to 6 months before the Achatina Achatina begins to lay egg.
Giant African land snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both the female and male reproductive organs. Two snails are still needed for breeding, but they are very prolific breeders.
The East African land snail, is the smallest in size among all the desirable species for rearing in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. It can lay up to 200 to 500 eggs in a clutch and can produce up to 3 to 5 clutches a year.
2. Farming Environment
Snails are good at escaping from enclosures. In setting up a productive snail farming venture, constructing an escape proof housing is therefore important. There are several types of snaileries (snail housing) to choose from however, the first step is to choose appropriate site. The major factors to be considered include:
• Wind speed and direction
• Soil characteristics
• Safety (protecting the snails from diseases, predators and poachers)
Snails are dehydrated easily, and wind increase the rate at which moisture is lost in snail which in turn, results to the dryness of the animal. In order to prevent snails from losing water so quickly, snaileries (the snail house) must be located in an environment that is protected from wind. A low plain, downhill site surrounded with enough trees is suitable for snail farming. Plantains and bananas may be planted around the snail farm to prevent the wind impact on snails.
3. Soil Type
Soil is a major snail’s habitat. The Soil composition, water content and texture are therefore important factors to be considered in site selection. Soil contains some components and chemical substances that snails needed to survive. The snail’s shell is made up of calcium which is derived from the soil and from feed. It also lay its egg on the soil and drink water out of the soil. However, not all soil are suitable for snails.
Hence, the suitable soil for snail farming must contain these elements; calcium and magnesium which stimulate snail growth best. It must be balanced, not waterlogged, not too dry, and must not be acidic. Soils with high organic matter support the growth and development of snails. The most desirable soil for snail is sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity. Clayey soil and acidic soil must be avoided.
4. Constructing the Snaileries
Snaileries can vary from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box if you are breeding in small scale. The type and dimensions of your snailery depends on the snail growing system chosen and the quantity of snails intended to be produced.
For a larger population of snails, a trench can be dug or construct a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire all around in order to prevent the snails from escaping.
Snails love dark and cold places, but make sure the humidity does not drop to a level harmful to the snails. Fresh leaves and cloth that is regularly wet can be used to regulate the temperature.
5. Getting the snails for Farming
It is recommended to use sexually mature snails, weighing at least 100-125g, as initial breeding stock. It is also advisable to get snails directly from the forest rather than buying from the market after they have been exposed to sunlight and have dehydrated. This is because snails are easily dehydrated and this stresses them out thereby resulting to low fertility.
The intending farmer could pick the snails from the bush after rain using this technique; sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, plantain, banana etc. at 5 o’clock in the evening, when you go back at 7pm or 8pm; you will pick up snails suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get the quantity you require.
Snails are vegetarian so they accept many types of food. Young snails prefer tender leaves and shoots; they consume twice as much feed as mature ones. Mature snails increasingly feed on detritus: fallen leaves, rotten fruit and humus should be introduced gradually. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.
N.B. Once they start growing, separate the big ones from the small ones. It take more than a year for the Achatina type to grow to harvest size. Others mature in two years.
From the information above you can see that snail farming is an easy to start business and anyone with the right information can benefit from it. This article will be handled as a series with this being the first. Kindly subscribe to our blog to be the first to know when it drops.
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