Commercializing Farming Of Snails
This may seem unnatural for humans to consume snails as they are considered to be vegetation eating creatures and are found crawling on walls leaving the slimy trace. Snails can be farmed for making profits whether in large scale or small scale at family level. Snail farming may require law capital investment which could yield high profits.
STEPS TO FOLLOW IN STARTING SNAIL FARMING
Just like in any other farming practice, it is important to know exactly where to start. In snail farming it is important to outline these;
Decide on the snail species that you want to farm.
The set up for farmland housing.
Collect or purchase the snail species to be farmed.
Feeding and rearing of the snails.
Harvesting and selling the snails.
SnailPEN / Housing
A place near your house with the right kind of soil and the right amount of water for snails to live and grow will be great. The materials to build a pen for the snail can be grown in;
Free range pens
There are different systems used in heliciculture which may be ideal for the farmer;
Intensive system – the entire production cycle is carried out in indoor environments where temperatures, humidity, light and feed are strictly controlled.
They are closed in plastic tunnel houses, greenhouses or other buildings with controlled climate.
This is an outdoor farming that replicates the snail’s natural habits hence environmental conditions are controlled. The snails feed on plants provided by the farmer in the pen and there is low animal density.
Semi-extensive or mixed system – snails are reared partly indoors and partly outdoors. First, the egg laying and hatching occurs in controlled indoor environment; thereafter, snails are removed to outside pens when they are between 6 – 8 week s until they grow to maturity.
During the gestation process, snails bury their eggs on the soil and hatching may be as quickly as 24 hours or takes up to 4 weeks. The snail species gestation period may last between 2 – 4 weeks.
Natural Feed For Snails
Snails are vegetarians; the cheapest way to feed them is by collecting rejected but recommended food from marketplaces.
At the end of any market day, some perishable vegetables and fruits still useful for snail consumption can be collected from the dumping areas.
This would reduce the cost and labour of buying or cultivating vegetables and fruits only to feed snails.
Paw-paw leaves, fruit and fruit peels stand out as excellent snail feed
Oil palm – the mesocarp (fleshy layer) of the oil palm
Selecting Breeding Stocks
Use sexually mature snails, weighing at least 100-125 g, as initial breeding stock. Farming should preferably start at the onset of the wet season; because that is the time snails normally start to breed.
Until snail farms become self-sustaining, farmers may have to collect snails from the wild or buy them cheaply in the peak season and fatten them in captivity in the off season.
Breeding stock must be selected in the wet season preceding aestivation, based on the following attributes:
Fecundity (expected number of eggs, based on numbers laid in previous seasons)
Hatchability (percentage of eggs likely to hatch out of the total number laid)
Establishment rate (percentage of snails likely to survive after hatching)
Growth rate Shell strength
Types Of Edible Snails
The edible snails are mostly in Africa, Europe and North America, and other countries also practice snail farming. There are different local names for snails (correspondence language within the parentheses).
(giant snail, tiger snail) snails are reputedly the largest land snails in the world. Although usually much smaller, they can grow up to 30 cm in body length and 25 cm in shell height.
How To Raise Snails Average adult shell length is 18 cm, with an average diameter of 9 cm.
The conically shaped, fairly pointed shell is brownish with a characteristic stripe pattern (hence the name tiger snail).
(big black snail, giant African land snail) is a large snail, generally growing to about 20 cm and a live weight of 500 grams. The shell is much less pointed than the Achatina species, the roundness being especially obvious in young animals. Striation on the shell may give the appearance of a ‘woven’ texture. The head of the snail is dark-grey; its foot is a lighter shade.
(garden snail, foolish snail) is a large snail, reaching 20 cm in length or occasionally more, with a shell length up to 20 cm and a maximum diameter of 12 cm. The conical, spiralled shell is predominantly brown with weak, darker banded markings across the spiral. Colouration is highly variable, depending on diet. A mature snail averages 250 g in weight.
Snails can go without food for eight months when they hibernate due to the weather conditions. They hibernate in cold season (winter) and also when they sleep in warmer seasons (called summer’s sleep).
Preparation And Processing Snails For The Market
The snails need to be purged for a period of three days followed by two days of starvation to completely clean out the snail’s digestive system; this is in preparation for human consumption.
Snail purging system – After selecting and harvesting the snails suitable for the market (between 30 mm and 40 mm) they are placed in very clean containers (large plastic buckets with a tight fitting lid are suitable for this process). These containers will need to have several holes drilled into the bottom edge to allow drainage of any waste materials.
The snails are turned into escargots.