Snail breeding for food is scientifically known as Heliculture.
Edible snails are quite easy to raise and maintain.
You don’t need to invest a lot of capital to start the business but the profit margins are pretty high.
Snails demand from you very little in terms of diet and shelter.
Snails are invertebrates with very soft bodies that are covered with a hard and sturdy calcareous shell.
They belong to the phylum called mollusca.
Snail meat is quite high in protein; the content levels range from 37 to 51%.
There is a huge demand for edible snails, at times called escargots.
Most land snails are edible though the most common species that you will need to pick from are the giant African snails; they are the largest specie from the Achatina genus.
Some other species that you can pick from are Helix aspersa and Helix promatia.
Snails are hermaphrodite so there is no need to choose based on gender.
It is also worth noting that in most instances snail breeding as a business may require some form of licensing; you are advised to kindly check with the relevant authorities.
How To Breed Snails
For your snail breeding business to flourish you need to have the correct equipments.
- You need to have the right enclosures and pens,..
- you need both a hygrometer and thermometer to measure both humidity and temperature.
- You will also need a small weighing machine to measure the weight of the snails as they grow and some kit to measure the soil content.
Snail Breeeding Systems
There are around four types of snail breeding systems that you can choose from, they include;
- using an outdoor pen,
- have the farm in a controlled climate in a building or
- have the snail breeding farm in a plastic or PVC cut tunnel.
- The last system is basically a hybrid as the snails are bred and hatched in a closed environment then placed outdoors.
The Process Of Breeding Snails
One of the first things you need to decide on is the species that you will rear.
This is usually guided by your personal taste, available space or market demands.
You need to prepare appropriate housing for your snails.
You need to provide around 3 to 4 sq ft. for each pound of snail. Any overcrowding does lead to stunted growth and disease.
If you are using tanks it is important to add some garden soil.
An alternative that you can use for snail breeding is potting compost that is free from chemicals.
You can feed snails with fresh fruits, leaves and a wide variety of vegetables.
Calcium supplements are crucial and you should make a point of providing them once a week to the snails.
Snails are sensitive to humidity; they thrive at around 70% humidity, you thus need to mist the tank daily.
The shelter needs to be cleaned frequently to clear any food residues.
If you are using a tank or pipe then you may need to remove the snails on a weekly basis and clean the substrates with warm water.
Fungi, parasites, bacteria and nematodes are known to attack snail farms.
Predators like rats, frogs, birds, lizards etc. are all detrimental to snail breeding.
Well kept structures and proper hygiene in the surrounding areas will go along away in reducing the instances of predator and disease attack.