Snail farming is not a new concept. From the prehistoric age, human has been consuming snail meat because of its high rate of protein, iron, low fat, and including almost all the amino acid which is needed for human body. Basically snails originated from wild life they are considered as good food and source of nutrition. Snail farming has many kinds of benefits. If a person raise them and expects to get possible qualities, he has to care them properly. In the recent years snail farming increasing day by day and turns into a large scale from small cottage industry because of its real economic value.
Suitable Place and Soil
For snail farming an open pasture should select where suitable plants are grown for feed and shelter. Basically any kinds of shed are not used. At the time of selecting a site for snail farming the main concern should given to the prevailing wind that is essential to dry out the soil. A farmer have to concentrate to eliminate predatory insects and pests. For this reason soil analysis and ensuring growing leafy, green vegetable crops are urgent. It is said that friable soil with PH 5.8 to 7.5 and calcium contain soil is useful in this regards. The soil structure should be light because clay soil is inappropriate for egg lying and moving. Besides, plants and snail should keep moist by night time dew, rain or collected misting. Snail can move more easily on moist, leaves and ground and that is why they can eat more and grow faster.Proper drainage system is necessary because no water should remain on ground in puddles. Rain water and collected irrigation is also important for snail farming. The place should be free from big tress so that no predatory and insects can grow and these tress give shade for the development of crops that hinders dew fall.
Size of Farm
Generally the size of a farm may be varied or depends on the category of grower. Cottage industry or the people who start from his hobby can utilize around 1000 to 2000 meters area. On the other hand, the people who start as a small business can use, average around 3000 to 10,000 squares meters area. If a farmer wants to start in a large scale, he has to take at least 2 hectors area and must increase this area with the increasing of his business up to 30 hectors.
Constructing a Snailery
There are different kinds of snailery can be built. In this regards, some factors have to take in consideration. Firstly, the snails stage of development and snails habit. The most important matter is that snailery must be an escape proof and be effective against predators and it permits easy entree to the trend snails. When a person wants to build a snailery, he must require some materials that are decay- and termite –resistant timber, such as Milicia excelsa (trade name- iroko); Nauclea diderrichii (trade name- opepe); Lophira alata (trade name – ekki), sandcrete blocks; mosquito nets and polythene sheets. These types of materials are needed for each kinds of snailery that are mentioned below.
- Hutch boxes
- Trench pens
- Mini Paddock pens
- Moveable pens
- Free range pens
Generally the most of the species of snail are vegetarian and they accept many kinds of feed. Different types of feed that is favored by the most investigated species, Achatina achatina, and the diet that is recommended to the farmers who is rearing this species, described here.
Types of Feed
Some studied show that A.achatina can utilize a wide range of feed items. Basically it prefers green leaves, fruits, tubers and flowers. Unlike other species it favors leaves and fruits which are separated from main plant. Snails prefer wet leaves to dry leaves. The recommended feed items are below.
- Leaves: Cocoyam, kola, bokoboko, paw paw, cassava, okra, eggplant, loofa, etc.
- Fruits: Pawpaw, mango, banana, pear, oil palm, fig tomato etc.
- Tubers: Cocoyam, cassava, yam, sweet, potato and plantain.
- Flowers: Oprono, odwuma and pawpaw.
Besides these feeds, a farmer should provide nutrition rich feeds that enhance the growth of snails. In this regards farmers can provide mixture feed.
Mating and Egg Lying
Snails are a unique animal which has both male and female reproductive organs, in short hermaphrodites. In spite of being hermaphrodites, they do intercourse with another snail of same species before laying eggs. Some snails act as males one season and in another season as females and fertilize each other simultaneously. The mating of snails occurs only when they become mature or adult enough. Generally the mating occurs in the late spring or early summer. After doing intercourse, snail can store its sperm for up to year, but usually it lays eggs within in a few weeks. Mating also depends on origination although they are same species as for example a H. aspersa from southern France may deny a H. aspersa from northern France. At least two inches deep soil is suitable for laying eggs. The place should be pests free such as ants, earwigs, millipedes etc. Dry soil, clay soil heavy soil is not suitable for laying eggs. It decreases the reproduction and hatching ability. Hatchability of eggs depends on soil temperature, soil humidity soil composition etc. The soil which is rich in moisture is suitable for laying eggs. After laying egg snails lose its weight and some do not recover it. And investigation says that about one-third of the snails die after the breeding season.
It is recommended to the farmers that a hygienic environment of snails can prevent the spread of disease and improve the health and grow rate of snails. For example, removing or replacing daily food to avoid spoilage. Farmer should add earthworms to the soil that helps to keep the pen clean and also have a concern about intestinal infections that causes for the bacterium Pseudomonas. Snails may be attacked by parasites, nematodes, trematodes, fungi, and micro arthropods when the populations of snails are dense. Careful consecrations have to for predators such as: rats, mice, moles, skunks, weasels, birds etc.
West Africa and west French are the two main areas of snails’ consumption in the world. In West Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire are the main markets of snails. France plays a significant role in snails’ trade. Some of the snails are imported from French and exported to the European countries or North America. Annually, the USA alone about imports $200 million worth of snails. Other markets are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Japan , Sweden, Austria, Denmark etc. and the main suppliers to these markets are Greece, Turkey, Rumania, Algeria, Tunisia etc.