There is this wise saying: “If you are not idle, you are succeeding a little”. So, start climbing the success stairs by starting up a small snail farm beside your apartment. To begin, you need to know what snails feed on and the list of snail food. Snail breeding is one of the numerous businesses that you can start with a very little capital, easy to manage and consume lesser amount of energy and time, you have the rest of your time for other things. Snail breeding is a lucrative business that generates profitable income if properly managed.
Before we go into the snail food, you need to understand step by step how to start and manage your snail farm. As a result of increased awareness on the profitability of snail farming, many entrepreneurs are beginning to delve into the business of snail rearing, processing and export. This business also has its pros and cons like other businesses. Understanding this will be a good thing. This care guide will attempt to shed light on snail breeding – snail rearing, feeding, including other things that may be of importance to someone interested in breeding snails.
Heliculture: – The science, practice and occupation of growing snails for food, it’s making them feel as if they are in their natural habitat. Snails are hermaphrodite – they possess both male and female reproductive organs; this makes it difficult to differentiate between the male and the female gender. Snail is rich in protein and irons, low in fat, and contains almost all the amino acids needed by human.
How To Procure Snails For Your Farm
There are two major ways of procuring snails for rearing purposes, either by purchasing life snails or catching the snails yourself. If you decide to purchase the snails, it is advisable to purchase from those who are already into the business of snail rearing, so, they can give you the best breeds. By doing so, you will be on the safer side. Or, you can take your destiny into your hands, by picking different breeds of snail yourself. To make the task easier follow these steps.
Get different variety of fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, banana, avocado e.t.c.
Clear a little portion of land in the rainy season
Sprinkle the fruits spice on the spot you cleared around 5pm – 6pm
Go back to check the spot after 2 or 3 hours, you will pick up snails suitable for rearing.
Repeat the procedure until you get enough quantity.
Snails are nocturnal animals (very active at night), and they have high sense of smell. They are drawn to the sweet smell of foods in the surroundings. For those in areas where there is no bush, the best way is purchasing your stock.
Whichever method you may adopt, make sure you have different species to fast-track the breeding rate, the growth of your business, and to meet consumers demand. The species underlisted are lucrative in West Africa.
Achatina Fulica (The East African land Snail) – known commonly as the giant African snail or giant African land snail.
Achatina Achatina (Giant Ghana Snail or Tiger Land Snail) – common name the giant Ghana snail, also known as the giant tiger land snail, is a specie of very large, air-breathing land snail.
Archachatina Marginata (Giant West African Snail) – the giant West African snail, is a specie of air-breathing tropical land snail. They can grow up to 20cm long, and live up to 10 years.
Making Home For The Snails
The next stage is provision of shelter for the snails. They are very fragile animals that must be properly sheltered in favorable weather condition to aid their growth, mating, and laying. Snails are easily dehydrated, exposure to much wind leads to loss of water, resulting in dryness of the animal. So, your snail house must be located in an area that is protected from wind and much sun light.
Snailery vary from small container when breeding in a small scale, to very large snail pens, you may house your snails in:
- A well glass or plastic ventilated tank
- A well ventilated wooden cage.
- For large population of snails, a trench may be dug or make a concrete pen.
(Note: the shelter must not have big openings and the ventilated parts must be covered with net/gauze to prevent them from escaping and to protect the snails from predators).
Fill the house with substrate (soil, small stones, pieces of wood and other things common in a typical habitat). Soil is the major part of a snail habitat, because it contains components and chemical substances the snails need to survive. The snail shell is mainly calcium and it is derived from the soil.
The snails get all the amount of water they need from the soil, it lays its eggs in the soil, and burrow deep inside. So, a sandy-loamy soil is recommended, because it doesn’t hold water for long and it’s not easily drained. Clayey soil and acidic soil should be avoided.
Caring For The Snails
After getting the shelter ready, you have to make them habitable for the snails.
Line the pen or tank floor with thick layer of substrate ( soil, small stone or granite e.t.c)
Spray the tank every other day with water (warm water) to maintain relative level of humidity
Change the substrate every week
Remove leftovers often, rodents and other small insects that can harm the snails are attracted by the smell of decaying foods
Clean the snail slime on weekly basis, if you are rearing the snails in tanks or wooden cages
Handle the snails the care when transferring them
Feed them regularly
Avoid feeding them with foods containing salt or sugar
Snail Food And Feeding
The snails should be fed as at when due, if you really want them to do very well. In fact, the quality of your snails will depend on the quality of their feed. Snails eat a wide variety of food, which could fall into any of these categories: tubers, agricultural by-products, fresh vegetables, fruits, leaves, cereals, fibres, drinks, and concentrates.
Snail Feed Categories
Leaves and Vegetables:
leaves of paw-paw, cocoyam, banana, sweet potato and cassava. Snails eat a lot of vegetables too. Some of the vegetables include- pumpkin, cabbage, lettuce, okra, water leaf, spinach, garden egg plant, amaranthus and all green vegetables eaten by man.
breadfruit, cucumber, green beans, nectarine melon, peach, plums, paw-paw, banana, plantain, orange, apple, pineapple, grape, tomatoes, ripe pear, avocado and all edible fruits.
Snails also eat tuber crops like yam, sweet potato, coco yam and cassava when cooked.
Agricultural by products – wheat bran, rice bran, corn, soybean, residue bran, palm kernel cake, peel of plantain, banana, fresh maize chaff etc, can also be eaten by snails.
Dried and processed maize, groundnut cake, soybean meal, and sorghum.
Feed supplements like fishmeal and blood meal are also good for snails.
This include poultry waste and feed, fish feed.
Limestone, wood ash, fish meal, bone meal, and chalk. Snails also need a lot of calcium in-take for growth and shell formation. Calcium or mineral supplement can also be derived from ground eggshell, oyster shell, bone meal, or even soil.
Why You Should Feed Your Snails Properly
The essence of feeding the snails is to aid reproduction capacity and increase their size. Therefore, be consistent in feeding. Snails convert feed to body weight when a balanced diet containing protein, vitamin, minerals, calcium carbonate, and phosphate is given to them.
Feed snails as much as they can eat, ensure usable water quantity daily. Agricultural chemicals in form of spray or powder should be avoided, as they are toxic to snails. Avoid salt and salty foods, since snails do not survive high salt intake.
List of Items That You Will Need in Your Snail Farm
Feeding troughs, Water troughs, Hand gloves, Colored marker, Hand trowel/spoon, Watering can/sprinkler, Sterilizer/ heater, Ruler/ vernier caliper, Weighing balance, Boots, Incubator, Nursery pen, Nets/ gauze, Illuminator.
Always remember that the performance of your snails depends solely on the type of feeds they are fed with. So feed your snails well for better growth and increased returns.