To start up a snail farming in Nigeria, it is advisable to get snails directly from the forest instead of buying from the market after they have been exposed to sunlight and have dehydrated. This is because snails drink a lot of water, so they are easily dehydrated and this stresses them out, and reduce their fertility capacity.
As an intending snail farmer you can pick the snails from the bush with a very simple technique; clear a little portion of land during rainy season and sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, plantain, banana etc this attract them to where you just cleared after three (3) hours you will be able pick up snails suitable for rearing. Repeat the procedure until you get enough quantity you desire to start with.
Another techniques you can adopt is that you can pick snail eggs littered in the market place where it is sold. Do the following to obtain the best result for your snail rearing, check the fertility of the eggs, because some of them must have lost fertility due to the exposure to sunlight.
The eggs are later put inside a container containing wet sand and covered with coco-yam leaf. Between 21 to 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails, You will start feeding them and gradually they will developed and you raise a snail farm you so desire.
How To Construct The Snailery
Snailery is very essential for snail farming in Nigeria. A good snail farmer keeps the snails safe and productive For larger population of snails, you can dug a trench or make a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire all around to prevent the snails from escaping. Remember that snails can reproduce fast and become pests when their breeding is uncontrolled.
Snails love dark and cold places, but make sure the humidity does not drop to levels harmful to the snails. You can use fresh leaves and wet cloth regularly to regulate the temperature during dry/sunny period.
Also, the wire is useful in keeping away rats and snakes or any other predators from eating the snails in your snail farm. But aside from these bigger predators, you should be cautious of the smaller ones like ants and termites. Your construction must have these predators in mind.
But if you want to be rearing the snail in a small quantity you can use fence protected ground, patch, sheltered from the wind or a covered box or plastics can easily be used. however, the most important thing is that you must make sure that the snails are not dehydrated because it can lead to the cons in snail farming.
For breeding, you will need the following to actualised positive result. Equipped area of land that will be enough for your cultivation. Special terrariums for gastropods. Soil fertilised with various useful elements, food for growing mollusks, twigs, and leaves.
How To Feed A Snail (Snail Feeding)
Snails especially Achatina mainly feeds on green leaves and fruits to truly utilised thier potentials, though they can feed on other ranges of foods, still it is advisable for a potential snail farmer to always feed their snails with leaves, fruits, formula from the feed stores amongst others. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.
Food ensure the proper growth of snails. Provided food help the snails grow their tissues and they also need calcium for growing shells.
Leaves: The following leaves are advisable for a snail farmer to feed their snail with Coco-yam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves.
Fruits: fruits like Mango, eggplant, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears. and cucumber are advisable.
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.
One hundred thousand snails after a year or two sold at the rate of N50 each (highly reduced price) will give you about N5 million! Isn’t that a good investment?
The snail must be matured before it can be harvested, it is not advisable or even economical to harvest before the appropriate time. To be sure if your snails are already matured enough, check the brim of the shell, if the brim of the snail is thicker and harder than other parts of the shell it means the snail is good for sales. Some snails take more time for growing.
Please do not sell all the matured snails in your farm to your customers. Ensure not to harvest them all because they are the ones that will serve as the base stock for your snail farm that is why it is important to save part.
Nonetheless, snail has a good market demand and price. You can easily sell the snails in your local market. Snail meat consuming rate is growing very fast throughout the globe. So, exporting in international market can make more money.
It is most convenient to harvest snails in wet weather. To do this, it is necessary to lay out slate sheets where snails will be collected. You can determine this by the edge of the sole (when it becomes firm, the snail will no longer grow). The collection is performed weekly, usually in spring or autumn.
After this, the gastropods must be kept in the cage for seven days so that their digestive system completely gets rid of the soil. While this process, snails receive no food or water. With a temperature regime of 5 degrees and sufficient coolness, they can survive for 2 months.
Important Factors To Consider when Starting A Snail Farming
The following factors should be considered when choosing a site for snail farming
- Soil Type
- Pests and Diseases
- Wind Speed and Direction
- Wind and Environment
1. Soil Type
One of the factors you have to consider before embarking on snail farming is Soil,Soil plays a major role in snail’s housing. Soil Composition, water content and texture are important factors you have to consider in selecting a site. The snail’s shell is made up of calcium which is derived from the soil and from feed. Snails also derive their water requirements mostly from the soil. Snails lay their eggs by the digging the soil and to rest during the dry season.
Because of all this factors it is crucial that the soil is loose and that its calcium and water content is high. Clay soil cannot be used because it becomes waterlogged in the rainy season and compacts during the dry season while also sandy soil is not advisable because of its low water holding capacity.
The most desirable soil for snail farming is a soil with high organic matter it can support the growth and development of the snails. This can be determined by checking the soil if it is a good growth of coco-yam, tomatoes and leafy vegetables.
Snails love to dig into the soil and ingest it. So you have to provide a good soil that favours snail growth and provides some of their nutrition because Lack of access to good soil may result in fragile shells even if you are giving them a well-balanced feed; the snails’ growth may hindered. If you are using a container for your snail farming you should make sure that you are changing it every three month because of Chemical changes.
2. Pests And Diseases
termites, lizards, snakes, ants, chickens, geese and turkeys are the common enemies of snails and should be perverted by all means. There are not many diseases identified in snail but fungus and bacterial diseases which are spread by contact have been noticed in overcrowded pens.
In this dry season, it will be ideal to irrigate the snail farm regularly or else the snail will hibernate. If there are drought, snails can hibernate up to two years in the case for desert snails.
Snail source is an important aspects in this process of farming, it is sensible to get snails directly from the forest or buy a reliable dealer in the market. The forest techniques could be really tricky, snails can be gotten from the forest with a base techniques, clear a small portion of land during rainy season and drop fruits like pineapple, pawpaw, plantain, and banana within 4/5pm in the evening. In the evening, come back at 7/8pm you will pick up snails suitable for farming. You can repeat the process until you get the reasonable amount you so desire.
4. Wind speed and direction
The second factor to consider is how wind accelerates because it affects the moisture content of the soil. To prevent snails from drying out, snail farm should be situated in sites that are protected from the wind. You can site your farm in a downhill sites, preferably those with good tree cover to reduce wind impact. If you Plant trees around snail pens will also help to reduce the wind speed and improve the micro-climate. It will also protect the snails from scorching sun or torrential rain.
5. Temperature and humidity
Snails are cold-blooded, they thrive best in areas with moderate temperatures and high humidity also when the temperature rises snails go into dormancy during the dry season this is one of the problem of snail farming. So the relative air humidity of your snail farm should not be near saturation, because it would encourage the development of harmful bacteria and fungi. In outdoor situations, it is clearly impossible to control climatic factors.
However, the magnitude of temperature and humidity fluctuations is reduced in areas of relatively undisturbed forest or fairly dense vegetation cover. Such sites should be preferred to open grassland or farmland areas.
6. Location and environment
The most suitable spot to locate your snail farm is a low plain, downhill site. The farm should not be exposed to excessive wind hence the location would dry out and dehydrate your snails. It is best to have trees like banana or plantain planted around your snail farm.
Depending on the scale of snail farming you want to go into, your snails can be reared in a large covered box if you are considering small scale snail farming, or in a concrete pen with soil flooring if you want to rear snails on a large scale