Snail Farming: The Basics

Updated: Nov 15, 2019



Micro-livestock management is on the rise in Nigeria, and among those successful in this industry are Snail farmers. Snail farming has become a stable source of income for many farmers, either as a full-time or part-time commitment. Snails command a huge demand locally and internationally, its odourless, noiseless and environment friendly.

The ease of sourcing, cheap food requirement and prolific nature of snails (reproduction) aids its profitability. Snail meat is a tasty delight craved in many African homes and events. Restaurant, bars, hotels are ready made markets for this slow but stable income earners.

SOURCING

Forests, bushes and vegetation are the ideal location to get your snails. Snails from this source are healthier and are in great condition. Snail farms are also a good option but be sure to check the species and shell health of the snails before purchase, you can get some here.

Avoid buying snails from market to avoid dehydration of snails due to prolonged exposure to sunlight.

HOUSING

The system of housing is dependent on several factors. Such as the size and type of your Snailery (Extensive, Semi-intensive and Intensive), intended production capacity, and financial capability. The age of snail, climatic conditions, location and flooding capacity of your snail farm are important factors.

The system of housing can be categorised into three

  • Intensive – The system involves the farmer controlling all the factors needed for growth. This involves the use of plastic tunnel houses, greenhouses, and structures with controlled climate.

  • Extensive – This is an outdoor or free-range system of raising snails

  • Semi-Intensive – This system combines both system. In this system, egg laying and hatching occur in a controlled environment.

Certain conditions should be met for a proper snail house

  • Space: Space is pertinent in constructing a Snailery. Snails require adequate space and overcrowding affects their growth (dwarfing), reproduction (due to excessive slime), eggs laid and eggs hatch, it also increase the rate of parasitism and diseases. A population density of 20 mature snails per m2/m3, 40 per m2/m3 for medium sized snails and 80-100 per m2/m3 for baby snails. Space also allows easy navigation for the management of the snails by the farmer.

  • Climate: climatic conditions like humidity, wind speed and pressure, temperature and moisture affect the growth and productivity of Snails. Provision of shades, wind breaks and a controlled relative humidity of above 60% would help manage the micro-climate of the snail house.

  • Predators: Insects (flies, cockroaches), vermin and humans (theft) can endanger your snail farm. Protect your snails with plastic bottles, old tins, mesh nets, wire mesh, and other mesh for vermin and padlocks for humans.

  • Soil: Soil should be loamy or humus and should be well-drained before use.

Car tyres, oil drums, hutch boxes, trench pens, and free-range pens are example of snail housing types depending on the system practised.

FEEDING

Snails are easy to feed, they eat a variety of food which includes: fruits and vegetables like banana, melon, plantain, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, pear, pawpaw pumpkin, okra and all edible fruits and vegetables. They also consumed tubers like sweet potato, cocoyam, cereals like sorghum, dried and processed maize and concentrates.

Snails require protein, essential minerals and calcium for growth. Calcium is an important part of their diet as deficiency affects shell growth. Pawpaw leaf and fruit, outer cabbage leaves, eggshells and limestone are great sources of calcium.

Avoid salt and salty foods as snail can’t survive high salt intake

Food sources are cheap, and are available at fruits markets, gardens, and feed stores.

Feed your snails twice daily, and ensure that there is enough feed to avoid competition for food.

MARKETING

Snails attain maturity between 12-24 months and are ready for sales. The all year-round demand for snails leads to a huge market locally and internationally. Local channels include: restaurants, hotels, stores and supermarkets, corporate and personal parties.

Snails possesses export potential due to the growing demand in Europe for the Giant African snail (Achatina Spp).

Snail farming is a slow but stable source of income. It is growing industry in Nigeria with an inexhaustible market home and abroad.

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