With the continuous rise of agricultural ventures in Nigeria, there are a variety of sections individuals can get involved and one of such is snail farming. Snail farming is a lucrative business venture and is one of the most profitable farming business in Nigeria currently.
Here is an extract of the monthly online training session for the month of December, which held on Friday, 27th of December 2019 where we discussed how to start profitable snail farming in Nigeria. The training was facilitated by Dr. Akintomide, T. Olayinka who has a Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine and specialization in Snail & Fish Production & Health Management. He is the CEO of Oak Ventures.
The facilitator dwelt basically on snail production using this training outline:
- Snail housing system
- Snail feed and feeding
- Challenges in farming snails
- Socio-economics of snail farming
Hours before the training began, the facilitator shared a PDF file that contained details on the training, you can download it below:
There are 4 key factors to animal farming;
- Feeds and feeding techniques
- Environment & Management
First, we need to understand what snails are like:
- They’re omnivorous – feed on plants and animals
- They are almost defenceless, thus adapt to night lifestyle (nocturnal)
- They stay within the shell until the weather is cool and humid
- They’re also active when it rains – because it’s cool and humid as well
- They eat and play around during the night hours. Thus feeding is usually once a day.
The importance of these are:
- Their feeding is usually limited to late in the evening/night hour
- When the weather is harsh (dry, hot), they hibernate or aestivate (sealing off with the off-white Epiphargm. When you see the “sealing mat” on the ‘face”, you know something is wrong – this could be the weather, pest irritation, or dryness
Snails are hermaphrodites – both sexes in 1 snail, though they cross-fertilize
Snail pen or housing is of utmost importance because it protects them from harm, poor weather condition. The housing must also protect them from pests and predators. You can use virtually anything to restrict their movement. However, they must be comfortable in a cool and moist environment that is stress free.
Snails of interest to me are the African Giant Snails:
1) Achatina Achatina
2) Achatina Fulica (both with relatively pointed apex, but different shell pattern)
3) Achachatina Marginata – curved apex. They are the biggest species of land Snails in Africa, and one of the best species in the world
Achatina Achatina lays 80-350 eggs at once, one to three times in a year
Achatina Fulica lays 100-400 eggs about six times in a year
Achachatina Marginata lays just 6-14 eggs four times in a year
(above are personal findings)
Feeding is the single most important factor in snail farming. Snails are easy to feed, they will feed on nearly every organic food source that is non-toxic, not hairy/waxy including leaves, fruits, vegetables, tubers and household wastes (that contain no Table Salt (NaCl).
Common food sources include fruits and veggies like banana, melon, cabbage, carrot, pawpaw, lettuce, cucumber, potato, pumpkin, plantain etc. Some people formulate special feeds for snails but you have to outweigh the cons with the pro. Why buy when you can have it all natural and next to free? Think of cheaper sources! Fruit markets, gardens and even the bush behind your house.
The type of housing and the scope of your farm will ultimately determine your source and type of feeds. In that respect, contact me. Consultancy is not expensive.
Unless your snail farm is of the very extensive type, you will have to provide your snails with some or all the food they need for good development. This will require efforts on your part in growing or collecting snail food, or cash for buying it. Therefore, you must know what snails eat and what they need. Smaller snails will prefer juicer feed sources while adult snails can eat hardier feeds and will sometimes eat soil substrate to enrich its calcium source.
Calcium as I mentioned earlier is plentiful in some sources. I used to peel off the outside leaves of the cabbage until I read that the outer leaves have as much as 80% more calcium (40mg/kg and 70mg/kg) than the inside leaves. I also wait until the last minute to cut the cabbage, as exposure to the air causes loss of vitamin C.
Not forgetting the calcium/magnesium balance needed in feeds as too much magnesium will prevent calcium absorption which creates growth problems. There are plenty secrets indeed!
To have a good look at their management, let’s understand their life cycle
Snail Eggs (egg look like lizard eggs) hatch into Snail Hatchlings within
- Achachatina Marginata: 2 – 4 weeks about 16-18mm when the weather is good.
- Achatina Fulica: 2 weeks – about 4mm in diameter
- Achatina Achatina: 3 weeks – about 8mm (average diameter)
(from personal observations)
They are hermaphrodites, so all supposed to lay – thus geometric multiplication
They get matured when their shell-turns (whorls) are:
- Achachatina Marginata: 5¼ – laying should start thereafter
- Achatina Achatina: 6¼ whorls
- Achatina Fulica: 6¼
Thus, you can actually select Snails of the same type (2 upward) to start your farming. When farming commercially, you have to select your stock type – the species of choice
Your system of farming – are you using the paddock system or cage system
The feed and feeding pattern should be known whether concentrate or leaves/fruit or other types (as in the slides)
Questions From Participants
Question: Since snails feed at night, does that mean we should provide light in their house at night or can they find their food without light?
Response: No, they can smell their feed.
Question: What are the rich formulation ingredients?
Response: Thanks for asking – the protein content > 30%
Question: I heard if you want to engage in an open paddock system then the soil has to be treated. How is it treated, sir?
Response: Yes – to treat indwelling ants, you can use chemicals. When using chemicals, allow 4 to 5 heavy rain to drain off the chemicals before stocking
Question: As a starter who intends to farm on a commercial scale, which housing system will you advise?
Response: Both the tiered cage system and the paddock system are good, depending on your time (availability – if not much time use paddock) and space
Question: Thank you, Doctor, I want to know the best means to farm snails
Response: Your personality (time, availability/having a serious attendant), cash at hand, type of land (soil type) and few other factors will determine the advice to give – no hard and fast rules.
Question: What minimum amount will be required to float this kind of business?
Response: Depending on your scale. I usually advise starting with about 250-500 snails (minimum) for commercial-sized farming.
That may cost, depending on some factors, about N500,000 – if paddock system.
Your material type (wood/metallic frame)
Question: How can we prevent epiphragm in snail and if seen how can it be curbed especially in the cage system housing
Response: It tells you that your management is poor or whether to improve it.
Could be due to: Pen dryness, no feed, pest distress
Question: Where can I see the snail to buy?
Response: You may use wild Snails – but must make sure they’re not starved/poorly handled.
You can buy on farmpays.com Click here.
Question: Is concrete flooring advisable?
Response: Depending on your location, soil-dwelling pests such as ants.
If you do, ensure proper drainage.
Question: Is there a buyback market?
Response: Yes. We have both local and international outlets.
Question: Can pasteurizing the soil be a good method of treating the soil, and if yes, how often should one do it. Or is it a once and for all thing?. If No, which is the best method?
Response: Yes, you can but how practicable is that.
Question: Of the three types of the snail you mentioned, which would you advise to start up with, in terms of hardiness, and low mortality.
Response: It depends on:
- Your clients
- Your interest
- The target market
e.g. if you want fast-growing Snails/high fecundity – Achatina Fulica: but the meat is very soft. This isn’t good for the African market but European (love soft meat)