Snail farming (also called heliciculture) is a very common and popular business in some countries. It is relatively easy and commercial production is very profitable.
However, snail farming is actually the process of raising edible land snails, mainly for human consumption and also for cosmetic use.
The meat and eggs of snail can be consumed as escargot and as a type of caviar respectively. Mucus has medical properties and also used in cosmetics (the mucus is also called snail slime).
Eating snails is not a new trend. Roasted snail shells have been found in archaeological excavations. It is an clear indication that snails have been eaten since prehistoric times.
There are many different snail species available throughout the world. But all of these snails are not edible. The best known and popular edible land snail species in the Western world is Helix pomatia.
Helix pomatia is commonly known as Burgundy snail or Roman snail. Although, this species is not fit for profitable snail farming business. And it is generally harvested from nature.
The most common snail species used for commercial production in the Western world is Cornu aspersum, formerly known as Helix aspera.
Commercial snail farming is generally done with the African snail, in the tropical climates. African snail biologically doesn’t fall in the family of Helicidae, and meat of which therefore many not be called escargot.
You have to choose the right snail species, create a favorable habitat, and take good care of the snails for starting and maintaining a successful snail farming business. You can grow your snail farm from a personal hobby to a lucrative business with patience and dedication.
Nutritional Value of Snail
Snails are very nutritious and tasty. It is healthy if you cook in the right way. According to information from the nutrient databank of France, the nutrient composition of raw snails (100 grams of edible portion) are:
- Available carbohydrates: 2 grams
- Calcium: 170 mg
- Energy: 80.5 kcal (337 kj)
- Fat: 1 gram
- Fiber: 0 gram
- Iron: 3.5 mg
- Protein: 16 grams
- Magnesium:250 mg
- Vitamin C: 0 mg
- Water: 79 grams
Advantages of Snail Farming Business
Snail farming is a common business in some countries. And it’s popularity is increasing gradually. There are many advantages or benefits of this business. Here we are trying to describe about the top advantages of starting commercial snail farming business.
- It’s relatively an old agribusiness. Many people are already doing this business for making profits.
- Raising snails is relatively easy. Even the beginners can start raising snails, if they complete a short training on snail production.
- Snails are hermaphroditic in nature, and they are highly reproductive.
- Both male and female reproductive organs are available in each snail. As a result, snails can reproduce very fast.
- One snail can lay eggs 6 times in a year. And a snail can lay more than 80 to 100 eggs each time.
- Snail meat is very tasty and delicious and also very popular in some countries.
- Snail meat is considered better than other red meat. And it is rich in nutrition.
- Snail meat is a great source of iron, protein, calcium and phosphorus, and it is very low in cholesterol, sodium and fat. That’s why snail meat is highly recommended by the dietitians and doctors for the patients and also for general people.
- Snails have demand in some African countries, but they also have very good demand in the Western world.
- Risk of loses is relatively less in snail farming business than any other types of farming business.
- You can start this business in small scale along with maintaining your current occupation.
- Commercial snail farming business generally require less investment. But the ROI is very good, and you will get your invested money back very soon.
- As it is a profitable business, so commercial snail production can be a great way for eradicating unemployment. Especially, the unemployed educated young people can take this business as their employment source.
- Commercial snail production is not a time consuming process. And there are also no problems of stress, odor, noise and irritation.
- Snail meat is very nutritious and healthy. And you can enjoy fresh snail meat if you can start your own production system.
How to Start Snail Farming Business
Starting snail farming is relatively easy. Even the beginners can start this business after having short training.
You can make good profits from this business if you can manage everything perfectly. Here we are trying to describe more about the steps for starting and maintaining a successful business.
Right environment is a must for raising snails. The snails are generally easily dehydrated. Dryness occurs in snails due to moisture loose in snails.
Natural wind increase the rate of moisture loss in snails. That’s why, you have to select a suitable location for establishing a your snail farm.
You have to keep the snails in snaileries in wind protected environment. This will prevent the snails from losing water from their body. An area with many trees can make perfect environment for the snails.
A mild climate with temperatures between 15°C and 25°C with high humidity (75% to 95%) is considered best for commercial snail farming business. Although, most of the snail varieties can stand a wider range of temperatures.
The optimal temperature is 21°C for many varieties. Snails hibernate, when the temperature falls below 7°C. The snails are inactive under 12°C, and all growth stops under 10°C temperature.
When the temperature rises much above 27°C or conditions become too dry, snails estivate. Wind is bad for snails because it speeds up moisture loss, and snails must retain moisture.
Soil is the main habitat of snail, and the soil must have to contain some of the components and chemical substances which are necessary for surviving of the snails.
That’s why all types of soil are not good for commercial snail farming business. Shell of the snails is mainly calcium, and they derive most of the calcium from the soil. They drink water from soil, and they also lay eggs on the soil.
So, it is very important to select a very suitable place with the availability of all types of necessary facilities for the snails. pH range between 5.8 and 7.5 is considered good for snails.
Snails don’t prefer waterlogged situation, and too much dry condition is also harmful for them. Avoid acidic soil, and sandy-loamy soil with low water holding capacity is considered perfect for snail production.
Snailery play a very important role in successful snail farming business. A good snailery keeps the snails safe and productive. The snaileries can vary from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box.
You can also make a concrete pen and fill it with about 10 inches soil, or dig a trench and cover it with screen or wire all around. This is helpful for commercial production and will prevent the snails from escaping.
Most of the snails generally love to stay in cold and dark place. Never let harmful animals to enter into the snaileries such as snakes, rats or other predators.
Wire fencing is a great solution for keeping all these animals and predators out. You also have to prevent some smaller but harmful insects such as termites and ants.
You will need some materials for building your snailery such as 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 required for making each kind of snailery. The types of snaileries are:
- Hutch boxes
- Trench pens
- Mini Paddock pens
- Moveable pens
- Free range pens
After making a good environment and snaileries, it’s time to purchase some fresh snails from market or any existing snail farm in your area.
According to some experts, ‘getting snails directly from the wild will result good production, instead of purchasing from market’.
Because the wild snails can easily adapt themselves with the new environment than the farm raised snails. There are many different ways for collecting wild snails.
Feeding the snails with very good quality and nutritious food is the most important part of snail farming business. Because, good food ensure good growth and also good health of the snails.
Snails generally eat fruits, green leaves, vegetables etc. You can feed your snails with easily available materials such as cabbage, cassava leaves, cocoyam, eggplant leaves, lettuce leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves etc.
Snails are naturally very good breeders. They will breed easily and will produce fertile eggs.
Most of the snail breeders allow their snails to mate with one another on their own. If you can keep your snails in ideal conditions, then breeding will occur at higher rates and have more success.
Caring & Other Management
Taking good care of your snails is very important for successful snail farming business. Good caring not only helps the snails to grow better, but also help them to stay free from health problems.
Maintain a hygienic environment for preventing the spread of diseases. Maintaining a hygienic environment will also help to improve the health and growth rate of the snails.
Always try to provide your snails with fresh food. And remove the leftovers on a regular basis. Adding earthworms to the soil is a great way to keep the soil clean.
In high density condition, the snails may be infected by parasites, nematodes, trematodes, fungi and micro arthropods.
Try to prevent all types of harmful predators. Rats, mice, moles, skunks, weasels and birds the main predators of snails.
Snails generally grow very fast. They become mature when a lip forms at the opening of their shell. Their shells are more easily broken, before they mature (making them undesirable).
Keep the fastest, largest and healthy snails for next generation breeders. This is generally around 5% of the harvest, and send the remaining snails for sale.
Snail eggs may also be harvested and processed to produce snail caviar. Special breeding units are required for easy harvesting of the eggs.
You have to set your marketing strategies before starting this business. Because if you can’t market your products easily, then you will not be able to make good profits.
Although, snails and snail products have an established market. It has good demand and value in the international market.
Western word and some African countries are the main consumer of snail. You can also contact with some companies who export snail products to the major consuming countries.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful snail farming business. It’s very easy to maintain a profitable business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!