Snail Farming: How to Start a Snail Farm

Snail farming is very lucrative and moderately challenging. You need basic equipment, source of feed, stocking. The amount of investment will determine the size and scope of the business.

Draft a business plan, source starter stock, acquire landed space, and build a pen. Offer competitive prices put in place a good marketing strategy. Commercial production require stocking the large land snail.

Type of Edible Snail

Not every snail is edible or commercially viable. Snails by their nature take from six to eight months to reach full maturity. Common edible snails are Helix Aperta, Helix lucorum, Otala punctate.

Others include Acharina fulica, Theba pisana,Otala punctate, Otala lacteal, Helix pomatia. More are Cornu aspersum, Eobania vermiculata. Best types for farming are the large Archachatina Marginata, Achatina Achatina and Achatina Fulica.

snail
snail

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List of Edible Snails

  • Helix Aperta
  • Helix lucorum
  • Otala punctate
  • Acharina fulica
  • Theba pisana
  • Otala punctate
  • Otala lacteal
  • Helix pomatia
  • Cornu aspersum
  • Eobania vermiculata
  • Archachatina Marginata
  • Achatina Achatina
  • Achatina Fulica
Snail type size Geographical location
Achatina fulica  326 mm weight 32 grams  East Africa
Iberus alonensis, 30 mm Spain
Otala punctata 35 mm Spain
Cornu aspersum 30 to 45 mm across France
Achatina Achatina   length 200 mm / diameter 100 mm West Africa
Archachatina Marginata   20cm long Africa
     

Habitat

Perfect humidity is 75 to 95%, climate 60-77 F, temperature 70F. Ideal water content/humidity of 80%, organic matter content of 25 – 40%.

Snail Housing

Constructing a snail house is ease and cost effective. The structures are basic and require simple materials. There are over ten different housing systems to consider for the pen.

Things to consider is type of habitat, temperature, location, soil composition. The choice of landed space should be well drained or floored.

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snail eggs
snail farming(snail eggs)

Types of Snail Farming Systems

Types of snail farming systems are free-range, extensive system, intensive and semi-intensive system. Intensive system is perfect for commercial production. Intensive requires good climate control, adequate feeding.

To accommodate huge numbers the farmer needs adequate landed space. Extensive system is perfect for small scale farmers. Materials used to build extensive systems include flowering pots, baskets, tyres, tanks. Semi-intensive system is used to raise young snails or hatch eggs.

Types of Systems

  • Mixed system
  • Semi-intensive
  • Extensive
  • Intensive system

Types of Snail Housing

The type of snail farming system depends on the farmer’s business plan. Commercial growers use intensive, extensive or semi-intensive systems. Product could be sold in open market, stalls, supermarkets, canned snail manufacturers or home consumption.

Common snail housing systems are drum pen, tank pen, trench pen, and basket. You have wooden hutch box, old tyers, and free-range system. Others are greenhouse system, plastic tunnel housing.

Housing

  • Drum pen
  • Tank pen
  • Trench pen
  • Basket
  • Wooden hutch box
  • Used car tyres
  • Free-range system
  • Greenhouse system
  • Plastic tunnel housing

Trench Pen

Select a well-drained site to construct the trench pen. Make sure the site has natural shade or construct a shade to prevent direct sunlight or rain. Peg the site then build up or dig into the ground.

Floor the trench ground with concrete then apply top soil to provide a soil base. Use either concrete or blocks to build up the sides to appropriate height. Add water trough and include a fitted framework made from wire gauze or mosquito net.

Main disadvantage is cost of construction, frequent bending. Advantages are access to snails, feeding, sorting and handling.

Drum Pen

Drum pens are cheap, relatively easy to build. Materials needed are old tank or drum, wire gauze or mosquitoes net. Others are plywood, aluminum roofing sheet (optional).

To build the pen acquire an old drum, perforate the sides. The next step is to lay sac at bottom of drum add loamy soil, dry leaves. This is to encourage egg production and provide hiding place.

Treat the ground around the drum or locate the drum on concrete ground. Place the drum on stands to elevate from ground.

Cut the top of the drum, introduce the wire gauze. This will provide good ventilation for the snails. Place drum in shaded area or introduce an elevated cover to prevent rain or direct sunlight.

Tyre Pen

Tyre pens are used to house very few snails. It is ideal for home consumption, snail raising. Collect four tyres then select dry ground under a shaded region. Stack the tyres on top of each other and introduce 15cm loamy soil.

Cover the top with mosquito net or wire on a frame and weigh down with large stones. Add holes to the tyre to improve ventilation. Disadvantages are loss of stock, poor ventilation, low capacity.

Free-range

A farmer can allowed them wander free-range in open pasture. However to prevent escape there must be some perimeter fencing. The fencing should have deterrents at the top to prevent predators or snail escape.

Within the enclosure you need food, shelter plants, artificial or natural hiding places. The major disadvantages are difficulty in collection, sorting and poor protection from weather conditions.

hutch box
hutch box

Hutch box

Hutch box are perfect for commercial production. They are built from hardwood, wire or nylon netting. The box is multi-chambered or plain, rectangular or square shaped.

The box is constructed with four stilts or legs to support the box. The legs are placed in plastic containers with kerosene or insect repellant.

Food for Snail Farming

Things that determine choice of food depend on species, habitat. Land snail have a mouth with rows of chitin teeth used to break, scrape food. They eat a huge selection of feed such as Algae, fruits, vegetables and plants.

Some are omnivores, carnivores or herbivores will consume mushrooms, bark, plant crops, leaves, fungi. Carnivorous snails eat earthworms, annelids, slugs, conch, and calcium for shell production.

List of Food

  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Cucumber
  • paw-paw
  • carrots
  • peas
  • lettuce
  • leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cassava
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • onion greens
  • aquatic plants
  • algae
  • fish food
  • shrimp pellets
  • fresh water
  • fruit peels
  • plantain
  • edible flowers
  • hibiscus
  • cauliflower
  • sunflower
  • rose
  • yam
  • sweet potatoes
  • cocoyam

What They Eat

1. Fruits: Feed pumpkins, watermelon, grapes, cucumber and paw-paw.

2. Vegetables: they will eat carrots, peas, lettuce, and leafy greens. Broccoli, cassava, eggplant, celery, cabbage, beans, spinach onion greens.

3. Other food: aquatic plants, algae, fish food, shrimp pellets, fresh water. Others are fruit peels and plantain

4. Flowers: edible flowers are hibiscus, cauliflower, sunflower, rose.

5. Tubers: common tubers are yam, sweet potatoes and cocoyam.

Calcium

They need a steady supply of calcium to build and repair shell. Purchase calcium supplements or extract from bone meal, grind shell of dead snails

How to Feed Snail

It is important to feed them only portions they can eat. They are nocturnal creatures and prefer to eat at night. Wash vegetables thoroughly cut into bits and serve. Same applies to cucumbers, apples and paw-paw. Avoid contaminated food, chlorinated water and starchy food.

Growth

Commercial production requires farming the largest edible breed stock. These are Achatina fulica, Achatina Achatina, Archachatina Marginata. Their genetic makeup will determine which ones grows faster than others.

However even growth is possible with only slight weight, height variations. Try to harvest only fully mature ones by checking the weight, brim hardness or thickness.

Select the smaller or mid-sized ones and leave some of the larger ones. The few large ones left will serve to restocking the farm. This technique guarantees increase in average size of stock. Things that affect size, growth of stock are habitat, environment, abundance of food, specie.

Snails as Pests

They consume huge amount of vegetables and are considered pests. They are problematic to farmers because they dissipate huge farm lands in a matter of weeks. Control includes use of pesticides, trapping.

Life cycle of Land Snail

Lifecycle encompasses reproduction, growth, death, and next generation. This include birth, development, full maturity, mating. Others are gestation period, egg production hatching.

Large land species reach full maturity within eight months to one year. Sexual maturity ranges from 8 weeks to several years depending on the species. Gastropod mollusks are hermaphrodites having both male/female organs. They don’t self-fertilize and generally find a partner.

Mating

Mating includes release of chemicals to attract partners, touching, fertilization. The pair will each lay clusters of eggs increasing production. Both average 100 to 300 small yellowish-white eggs.

They will dig the soil then bury the eggs in moist soil covered in dirt or leaves. Only a fraction of eggs reach maturity because of predation, environmental condition. The soft shelled eggs hatch from 14 days to 1 month and young snails require calcium to develop or harden.

Pests and Diseases

Enemies of land snail are parasites, predators, disease and accidents.

Predators

Common predators are birds such as owls, ducks and heron. Blackbird, falcon. Protect them from birds by adding a net to your pen.

Land predators are shrew, dormouse, rat, lizard, grass snakes and chicken. Others are frogs, badger, rabbit, weasel, and fox. Protect them from land predators by installing traps refrain from use of poison.

  • Birds
  • Shrew
  • Dormouse
  • Rat
  • Lizard
  • grass snakes
  • chicken
  • frogs
  • badger
  • rabbit
  • weasel
  • fox

Invertebrates and Parasites

Harmful invertebrates are drile, odorous staphylin, lithobie and earwig. Others are beetle, silphides, lampyre. Undesirables are moles, fly, slugs.

Parasites are riccardoella,hypoaspis, nematodes, live fluke. Preventive measures are use of quicklime, bleach, disinfectants. Another common problem is development of mycoses in eggs.

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Marketing

Marketing considerations are sales in open market, supermarkets and food vendors. Sell directly to neighbors, wholesalers or retailers. Use online publications, newspaper advertisement, posters or handbills.

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