Snail farm in Nigeria:
Before writing articles on this website alongside my co-authors we carry out research on certain topic. Apart from running a blog we are farmers and agriculturists. About two years ago with the aim of learning from practical experience and modalities of the profession I started a snail farm in Nigeria. One things I noticed was that snail farming require huge amount of patience.
It takes close to a year to see desired results and then you start making huge profit. Another observation was although the feed requirements was low cost it adds up in the long run. Imaging buying watermelon, bananas, snail concentrates for a year.
About Snail Farm in Nigeria
Snail is a popular dish with many health benefits and highly favored in Nigeria. The slug attracts premium price in the market and is used in many Nigerian dishes.
The industry is largely untapped and has huge earning potential with low startup. The huge demand makes it a viable enterprise for investors. Snails farmed are African large snails which are readily available in hatcheries, open market and forest.
Why start snail farm in Nigeria
The benefits of snail production are many. They include potential for huge profit, low startup cost, basic equipment. Snail is good source of protein with low mortality rate. It is a good foreign exchange earner and favorite for alternative medicine vendors. The entire snail has many benefits form the meat to the shell.
- good profit
- low startup cost
- basic equipment
- high demand
- Snail good source of protein
- low mortality rate
- foreign exchange
- basic equipment
Things to consider
There are things to consider before starting a snail farm in Nigeria. Considerations include siting the snail house, soil condition, weather, wind and sunlight. Others include startup funding, type of snail house to construct, sourcing feeder stock and food. Learn to identify sick snail and promptly remove from stock.
Startup Considerations for Snail Farmin Nigeria
- Site selection
- snail housing
- soil condition
- weather conditions
- startup funding
- sourcing feeder stock
- identify sick slug
- appropriate time to harvest
Advantages and disadvantages of snail farm in Nigeria
There are many advantages and few disadvantages to this type of culture. Disadvantages are startup challenges, middlemen, learning the trade and regulations guiding the enterprise.
Advantages include low cost of feed, they produce large number of eggs-young snail and they offer high grade meat. Noted for good nutritional value they are in high demand, potential for huge profit. Another major advantage is basic equipment, small space requirement.
- Finding feeder stock
- startup challenges
- learning the trade
- regulations guiding the enterprise
- low cost of feed
- produce large number of eggs-young snail
- offer high grade mea
- good nutritional value
- premium price
- high demand
- potential for huge profit
- require basic equipment
- need small space
- largest species
- perfect weather for snail production
According to some research the consumption of snail has some health benefits. Snails are a good source of iron, magnesium, choline and omega-3. Snail have lots of vitamins and protein.
It is recommended that people meet 7% of daily omega-3 while choline water soluble vitamins. Selenium is an important nutrient that fights disease and magnesium strengthen bones, helps maintain body temperature.
Characteristics, behavior and habitat
Snails thrive in most habitats, tropic, Saharan, salt or fresh water. During extreme dry periods they are capable of going into hibernation. Classified as Gastropods body consists of five main parts head, neck, visceral, hump, tail and foot.
They have two pairs of tentacles one pair with eyes the other sensory organs. The shell referred to as mantle protects internal organs. Having both sex organs they are hermaphrodites while fertilization is simulations. Feeding consists of the use of a rough radula tongue to scrape and break food.
Types of snail
The African giant snail is the most sort in the Nigerian market. African giant snails are Achatina achatina , Achachatina Marginata and Achatina Fulica. Not all species of land snail are edible while some are to tiny to bother. However there are many more land snail to consider.
Some are Achatina vignoniana, Paralaoma servilis, Gastrocopta servilis, Shincteroc boissieri. More are the Achatina albopicta, Helix aspersa maxima, Achatina immaculate. We have Fruticicola minimum, Burgundy snail, Azhatina reticulate.
List of Land Snails
- Achatina achatina
- Achachatina Marginata
- Achatina Fulica
- Achatina vignoniana
- Paralaoma servilis
- Gastrocopta servilis
- Shincteroc boissieri
- Achatina albopicta
- Helix aspersa maxima
- Achatina immaculate
- Fruticicola minimum
- Burgundy snail
- Azhatina reticulate
Types of snail farm in Nigeria
In Nigeria it is only profitable if you grow giant snails. We have three species of African giant snail sold in the market. They are Achatina achatina , Achachatina Marginata and Achatina Fulica.
- Achatina achatina
- Achachatina Marginata
- Achatina Fulica
Sourcing the feeder stock is moderately challenging. This is because good healthy snails require proper handling. There are three ways to start the snail farm. The first is to buy large snails and place in snail house till they reproduce. This will take several months before you start seeing results like egg then young snails.
Second method involves buying young snails from reputable farms to verify the authenticity of the product. Another way is to find traders in snail and purchase the large and young snails. However this method does not guarantee the health of the snail or species. If you are short on cash then use the forest method and pick snails for your farm.
Ways to Stock the farm
- Buy from snail farmer
- Buy from market woman
- Pick the snail in forest
Type, Sourcing, Site Selection Table
|Large Snails||Sourcing||Advantages||Site selection|
|Achatina Achatina||Forest||Low cost||Soil conditions|
|Achachatina Marginata||Farmers||High profit||Weather|
|Achatina Fulica||Open Marlet||Premium price||Snail housing|
Good Quality breeding
Cost of good quality breeding snail depends on the source.it costs nothing if they are sourced from the wild. Price of live snails in Nigeria start from N250 to N750 each. Average weight of snail purchased should be from 200g – 250g.
Startup for a small enterprise starts from N50, 000 – N100, 000. This cost include purchase of feeder stock, housing and part feeding. It is possible to make 100% profit on your investment. Large snails lay from 6-10 eggs every 3 months. This means 10 large snail will manage 60 -100 eggs every 3 months.
The best location for the snail house is in shady area away from strong winds. Observe partial sunlight, rain to simulate natural environment. If you have a plantain or banana tree under the tree is a perfect location.
Equipment needed to start a small farm are simple basic tools. Buy a watering can, weighing scale, hand towel, water container, hoe, shovel cutlass, rake and plastic buckets.
- watering can
- weighing scale
- hand towel
- water container
- birds net
- shovel cutlass
- plastic buckets
There are different types of snail housing to consider. Some are built from wooden boxes, others drums, some block pen while some are made with concrete.
It is important to pay attention to the flooring and top to avoid escape of the feisty creatures. Despite their slow movement they get around rather rapidly.
Types of housing
There are different kinds of snail housing to consider. A small household farmer can use a simple drum. Other housing are box housing, block housing, concrete housing and greenhouse.
Building a concrete housing is expensive and permanent. Therefore a farmer needs to be totally sure of the output before investing heavily on such a structure. Block housing is semi-permanent while box housing is moveable less expensive and easily managed.
How to build block or concrete housing
Build block or concrete housing like fish ponds. Build them several in a row not higher than 3.5 feet. Make sure to add a wooden net cover to prevent them from escaping.
The size of each pond-like construction depends on the quantity of snail farmed. Add soil for laying and barrowing and allocate some pens for grow outs and one as a nursery for newly hatched young.
How to build box housing
A box housing is simply a large box with legs. Avoid placing a box construction directly on the ground to avoid ant infestation. Place the legs of each box in tin cans with fluid to ward off the ants. Make sure the box has a net cover to prevent them from escaping. Don’t forget to add soil to encourage egg laying and hiding.
How to make Drum Housing
First cutout the top of the drum and add corrugated iron bars wrapped in netting. Site the drum in shaded area away from direct sunlight or rain. Perforate holes all around the drum for added ventilation for the snail.
At the bottom of the drum add soil enough to encourage laying or hiding. Make sure to perforate the bottom with tiny hole to encourage drainage of waste water. Snails love to climb so introduce a narrow flat but sturdy wooden partition in the middle of the drum.
Snail are considered pests in farms because they consume a variety of food in their natural habitat. The type of food they favor depends on readily available food and species. They eat sand, dying plants, shrubs, fruits and vegetables. More food choices include beans, squash, cereals, papaya, cucumber, and cacao.
Although some are carnivores, land snails are mainly omnivores or herbivores. That means they eat mostly plants, fruits and shrubs. Other food source are mushrooms, bark, leaves, stems, plant crops or dead matter.
Land snails have a mouth with a radula with rows of chitin teeth. Food is passed over the chitin teeth to cut, scrap or breakdown food. Commercial farmers have a choice of concentrate formulated made from crude fiber, energy, crude protein and calcium.
What they eat
- dying plants
- plant crops
- dead matter
The soil composition for housing or open pen system is very important avoid areas with clay soil or sandy oil. Humus soil is preferable with moderate dampness and water retention. Avoid waterlogged areas however nutrition rich soil is an advantage. The snails need regular fix of calcium in soil or supplemented in their diet.
Proper temperature and humidity control is essential for rapid development. Poor humidity would cause dryness and cause the death of stock. Snail thrive in high humidity, modestly cool temperatures. Although they will avoid the sun they need some sunlight. Site the farm downhill to avoid wind and plant near food/shelter trees (banana tree).
Consumption of calcium is an important aspect of snail development. Without it shell production is hindered and health and low growth rate. Commercial snail concentrates have sufficient levels of calcium for farmers. Other sources include grounded chicken egg shells, green outer leaves of cabbage, limestone fragments.
Avoid packing too many snails in a single pen. This is because a highly dense pen affects the growth rate of each animal. However possibility of reproduction is increased with mate selection. To attain bigger adults find a sweet spot between density, growth and reproduction. Remember the number stocked depends on the size of the pen housing.
Snail physiology are hermaphrodites therefore the have both sex organs male and female. However a snail cannot unilaterally fertilize itself and is only possible if they are two.
There are three factors that affect the reproduction in snails. First is stress factor, disease, lack of calcium over stocking or high density in pen. Eggs hatch naturally in substrate however a farmer can harvest the eggs in separate hatchery.
First harvest the eggs and place in plastic with a cover. Place soil 1cm and arrange eggs 1 sq. inch apart. Cover the eggs with 1cm soil and watch for signs of hatching.
Typical periods for hatching is 17-22 days. The hatched snails are very tiny so you need good observational skill. Transfer the tiny baby snails to a nursery to grow.
Enemies and Diseases of Snail
It is essential a snail farmer knows the enemies and diseases of snail. Snails are susceptible to fungal and bacteria borne diseases. Enemies include predators, undesirables, parasites, accidents and diseases.
It essential the snail housing is secure and prevent escape of snail or entrance of predators. There are many insects and animals if given the chance will kill or eat the snails. Most birds find snails a delicacy.
Common birds that feed on snails are turkey, chicken, geese, duck and hawks. More are moorhen, black-head gull, owl, thrush. Others include blackbird, titmouse, redstar, falcon, jackdaw. Magpies love snails, heron, corbel and dunnock. To prevent against loss of stock from hungry birds is the installation of net.
Terrestrial predators that feed on snail are lizards, snakes, ants. Others include mice, rats, mulot, hedgehog, surmulot, dormouse and newt. Otters are field vole, lerot, grass snake, and rabbit. We have salamander lon pitchfork, fitchet, weasel, turtle, frog, toad, pig. Secure the snail house from intruders and use clamp plates or cage traps.
Invertebrates that attack snail
Invertebrates that attack sail are drile, lampyre, carabe grained, gilded carabe, adult siphides, opilion spider, earwig, beetle while undesirable are slugs and fly.
- carabe grained
- gilded carabe
- adult siphides
- opilion spider
Parasitic infection are the number one killer of snail. Parasites are riccardoella, Hypoaspis miles, Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita nematode. Use regular cleaning of snail house, bleach and disinfection to reduce parasitic infection.
Bad quality of compost material will cause mycosis of laying of eggs. A bad fall could cause disfigurement of the shell and growth.
The whole point of snail production is to grow them to adult size. Fully matured snails have thicker and harder brim. They have good color are active. Once they are large enough move the ones you want to sell, clean and place in cage for few days. Always maintain minimum handling throughout the process of harvesting.
The meat is highly priced in domestic and export markets. There is huge demand for them in Nigeria and neighboring countries. Escargot which is the consumption of snail is very popular in European countries and they are willing to pay top dollar for the meat.
Top consumers of snail are Portugal, France, Spain, UK and United States of America. This offers good export opportunities for large farmers to earn dollars.Thats good incentive to start snail farm in Nigeria.
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