Starting a Snail farm


Snails are common in most rural and semi-urban areas of Nigeria.They are not only savoured for their taste but also for Starting a Snail Farmtheir muscle. Snails have been reported to be useful for various nutritional and medicinal purposes.The need to utilise this species more in meeting man’s needs and protect it from extinction informed this article.

Description
The giant African land snail (Archachatina marginata) belongs to the phylum Mollusca and it is a gastropod. It is active during the raining season and naturally undergoes aestivation during the dry season due to shortage in moisture. It is a nocturnal animal that lives in moist environment. It is an hermaphrodite with direct development of hatchlings. It has a nerve ring which makes it capable of associate learning. Translocation is achieved by crawling.
As this snail grows, so does its carbonate shell but when it reaches the adult size,it builds a thickened hip around the opening of its shell.A healthy land snail can live up to 7 years. This species can and have been domesticated.

Housing

  • The selected land must be flat with adequate shade.
  • The soil should be humus.
  • The house must be well ventilated,moist,and spacious.
  • For economic reasons,it should be durable and affordable. The house must be able to protect the snails from predators. Apart from concrete buildings,snails
  • can be kept in Cages, Baskets, Drums,Pots, hole tanks,etc.

Selection tips

  • When selecting your foundation stock,the following tips are necessary:
  • The fleshy part of the snail should completely fill the shell.
  • It must be slippery.
  • Don’t select snails with patches on the body or those with perforated shells.
  • Snails should be selected when they are at rest.
  • It is advisable to select snails of a breed.
  • Do not select snails with epiphragm.

Predators
This species have many natural predators and these ranges from the invertebrate to the vertebrate animals. The notable ones are: ground bettle, leeches, decollate snails, predatory caterpillar,soldier ants,snakes and rodents.Pollution also preys on snails and therefore the snail house should be kept free of any kind of pollutants namely exhausts,food remnants,foul water,fecal pellets,herbicides,pesticides etc.

Feed and Feeding
Snails eat little quantity but a wide variety of feed compared to other livestocks. However,they do not like salty or pepperish feeds. The following can be considered as few of their feeds:solid pap,coco leaf,wheat plant,egg shell,pawpaw leaf,water leaf,pounded yam,eba,amala,cooked rice etc. Snails are best fed
in the early night or late evening depending on the solostices. Both feeding and drinking troughs must be shallow and even shallower for the hatchlings.

Breeding

The African Giant Land Snail matures between the age of 8-12 months. There are species that mature as early as 4 months.It is not seasonal breeder. During breeding,the snail will dig a hole, lay its eggs in quick succession, in batches,and covers it with soil. The clutch size varies between 4 to 16 eggs. It should be noted that the size of the egg bears a positive relationship with the size of the snail that laid it.The incubation period ranges between 24-35 days. The hatchling has a thin transparent shell and will remain in the soil for 2-5 days before coming to the surface. When the hatchlings have surfaced,the snail breeder should remove them from the adult into a different chamber in order to avoid canibalization. The major factor affecting breeding success is the condition of the soil.The soil therefore should be moist(not wet),friable(not compact),and of a depth of at least 20cm.

An average Land Snail lays up to 100 fertilized eggs. Other species can even double or tripple this number

 Management Practices

On a daily basis:

  • Check the housing unit and remove any dead animal;
  • Remove leftover feeds;clean and replenish every water trough with cool, clean and fresh water; clean the pen and its surroundings;etc

Generally:

  • Don’t use any chemical in the pen or in areas close to it; make sure they are protected from predators especially soldier ants and snakes
  • During the rainy and harmattan seasons; provide adequate shade;supplement their feed with calcium sources; discourage visitors from entering the snail house; do not frighten the snails with noise;etc.

Source of Foundation Stock

  • Snails are easily procured anywhere in Western Nigeria,In fact it can be transferred from the wild. Major sources are:

-Agricultural Research Institutes

-Agricultural Development Programme(ADP) Offices

-Snail Markets or Snail Section of other markets

-Hunters,and

-the writer of this article.

If snails are properly managed, the trio of the shell, foot and fluid are all useful.

 

Omofaiye, A.M is a practicing Agricultural Consultant. He can be reached through the use of any of the following:
07032549245,
shema.omofaye@gmail.com .

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