What Is Snail Farming
Snail farming, also known as heliciculture, is a very profitable way to make money in Nigeria and anywhere in the world.
Snail farming is the grooming, rearing or breeding of edible gastropods like snails either for consumption or for commercial purposes.
The most popular edible snails in Africa are the achatina fulica and the achatina achatina and they are really a good source to make money from.
Snails are nocturnal animals meaning they carry out all their activities at night. From eating , playing and mating. They are also hermaphrodites meaning they contain male and female reproductive organs and they do not need to mate to lay eggs.
Snails are not like other animals, they are nocturnal animals and they still undergo hibernation during the dry season . During the dry season, snails fall into deep sleep and become less active to help them conserve water in their bodies.
This hibernation occurs for about 6- 7 months and during this period a transparent film is seen, formed around their lips .
The film breaks up during the rainy season and a new cycle begins for them.
Categories of Snails
There are four categories of snails
These are the snails that were just formed from eggs. These ones are still very little and they are usually very plentiful.
by snails are kept in a snail pen, some grow bigger and faster than the others, they are taken away from the pen for baby snails and are kept in a different pen, they are called shooters. The ones that take time to grow are still left in the pen for baby snails
In snail farming, shooters that are about 4-6 months old are said to be in their breeding stock. These ones are the ones that mate and lay eggs although snails are hermaphrodites, even without mating with another snail, they can lay eggs on their own.
These snails are very mature and you can notice them by the size of their lips.
Points Of Lay
In snail farming, points of lay are snails that are about 8-10 month and are about to lay eggs.
If you are starting a snail farm, it is advisable to buy points of lay snails to be able to grow your farm in such a short while.
Why Snail Farming
While some would like to venture into snail farming, others into other types of farming, there are so many reasons out there to choose snail farming
Here are reasons to choose snail farming
1- Snail farming is lucrative
2- Snail farming doesn’t require so much care and attention
3- Snail farming is very easy to start
4-They don’t take up your time
5-They reproduce plentifully
6- High demand for snails
How To Start Snail Farming At Home
As lucrative as snail farming is, a lot of people would want to start a snail farm at home but do not know how to go about it. For a snail farm sited at home, all the steps below have to be checked in order to make the most out of the snail farm sited at home.
Here are the steps required to start a snail farm at home
Making Up Your Mind On Starting A Snail Farm
Any business at all would mean the parties involved would make up their minds that they are about to go into a business, a business that would bring in so much money for them and they would see to it that they keep up with the necessary things they need to do like checking up on the snails to avoid insect bites, feeding them when it’s time(although snails do not require that much care like other animals) and doing every other thing wholeheartedly so as to get a good profit from it when the time comes for harvesting.
Also, you need to learn about the basics for setting up a snail farm at home and this is also part of the positive mindset required.
Setting Up Your Snail Pen
Snail pens are structures created to house snails of different sizes, they are usually built with intentionality and different factors in mind.
Factors to keep in mind while building a snail pen
- Snail pens are shelters and should protect the snails from insect bites, rainfall, direct sunlight e.t.c
- Little drainage for water below the snail pens
- Build the snail pen above ground level.
How to set up a snail pen for snail farming at home.
1-Look for a good spot with a roof preferably a garage, a tent or a small structure that is roofed to prevent excessive rain from coming in when there is a heavy downpour.
2- A snail pen should be standing on four legs, the snail pen should be about 3- 4 ft high with its width and length being 2.5 ft by 5ft.
The snail pen should be made of strong woods and inside the pen should have thin lines of spaces( drainage)where excessive water can go out from.
The top of the snail pen(the cover) should be like a lid that can be opened and closed made from wood on the side with wire mesh at the top and mosquito net beneath to avoid introducing insects and other reptiles to the snail pen.
The four legs of the snail pens should all be dipped into plastic containers containing already used engine oils, this helps to prevent invasion of termites and other insects that would come to eat the wood.
3- After the snail pen is set up, 4-6 inch of properly vetted humid soil(loamy soil is the best for snail farming) is poured into the snail pen after which “point of lay” snails are brought into the snail pen, fed and covered with dry plantain or banana leaves to avoid direct sunlight and also enhance darkness as they are very active in the dark.
Rearing Your Snails
In snail farming, snails do not require so much attention, therefore you can choose to care for them once in a week, all you need to do is make sure they have food available in their pens.
When you go to each pen, you check for eggs laid by any of the snails, look for the ones growing more than the others, take them to another pen, feed them, change the plantain or banana leaves you have used to cover them to enhance freshness.
Harvesting And Selling Your Snails
In your snail farm, when you notice that the snails in different pens are very mature(maturity is checked by the size of their lips), it’s time for you to take them out, either for commercial purposes or consumption.
Make sure you leave a lot of points of lays to allow them to lay and also keep increasing the size of snails in your farm.
If the snails are for commercial purposes, you can either take them to the market and supply to people selling in the market, make supplies to hotels and restaurants, or dry them up for exportation to other countries.
What Does Snail Eat To Grow Fast
For your snails to grow fast, the best food to give them are vegetables. Snails are vegetarians, so they eat fruits and vegetables very well.
From Watermelon, dry leaves, paw paw leaves, plantain leaves, snails eat all of them.
It would take about 3-4 days for about 300-400 snails in a pen to eat a large melon serving. While some species of snails have about 500 teeth, some other species have about 2,500 teeth which they use to feed .
Snails are also given supplements like calcium to help make their shells grow stronger.
How Long Does A Snail Live
A snail can live for up to 4 -5 years depending on its environment.
Is Snail Farming Lucrative
Yes, Snail farming is very lucrative.
Not only is it lucrative, it is very easy to start, it doesn’t take up your time like other types of farming .
An average breeding stock of snails is being sold for about 200- 250 naira, if you have about 1,000 pieces of this, that’s 250,000 naira obtained without so much work.
How about the point of lay category that goes for about 500- 600 naira each.
Snail farming is lucrative. Not only can you sell it here in Nigeria, if you have a very large amount, you can export them to other countries especially European countries.
Fresh snails cannot be exported, so you need to process them by either grilling or drying to be able to pack them properly for exportation.
What Are The Enemies Of Snails
Direct sunlight, Insects like termites, bugs, ticks, mosquitoes , birds, ants, reptiles and other animals that can eat them are all enemies of snails.
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