All About Snail Farming
There are many different types of snails; some live on land and some live in water but the best ones to farm are the ones that live on land (the teresrial edible land snails).
Snail farming also known as “heliciculture” is the process of farming edible terrestrial snails for human consumption.
Why Farm snails?
You can eat snails as food since snail’s meat is high in proteins as compared to other meat providing animals.
Snail meats also are also rich in amino acids which is needed for human nutrition.
You can also use snail meat for medicinal purposes because it has glandular substances that cause agglutination of certain bacteria such as bacteria causing whooping cough.
The bluish liquid obtained when the snail meat has been removed from the shell is also regarded as quite good for infanbt development.
You can also use snail meat to treat aneemia since it has high iron content. and and in the past has been used for comatting ulcers and asthme.
In some circles, the snail meat is also regarded as an aphrodisiac and in recent times the snail slime has been used extensively for cosmetics use.
Types of snails to Farm For Your Snail Farmig Business
Edible snails range in size from one millimeter to the giant African snails which grows to about 312mm in length.
The most often farmed and known land snails in the Western world are the
- roman snails,
- garden snail,
- burgundy snail,
- Helix Pomatia (apple snail) and
- Helix aspersa.
All these snails are European in nature and they tend to be on the small size
The term “Escargot” is used mostly to refer to either the Helix aspersa snail or to the Helix pomatia,
In terms of the African continent, the most common snails that are farmed and well loved by the population are the giant land snails, namely
- Achatina Archarchatina
- Achatina fulica
- Archachatina Marginata
The other common species of land species that are consumed by humans are the Spanish snail or vineyard snail, Iberus alonensis, grove snail, white-lipped snail, Iberus alonensis, Eobania vermiculata, escargo turc, Helix adanensis, burrowing snail, banded snail, and cargol mongeta.
What is needed for snail farming?
For successful snail farming you need correct supplies and equipments.
- snail pens or enclosures,
- instruments for measuring temperature, humidity, light, and soil moisture,
- an instrument to measure snail size and a weight scale,
- a magnifying glass for seeing eggs,
- and a kit for measuring soil content.
You may also require instruments for controlling temperature and humidity for your snail farming, to provide shade and light, kill and keep out predators and pest, and to regulate water are also very important for your snail farming business.
For better results, you will have to use snails of the same generation and kind.
Life cycle of snails
Snails take about two years to be fully-grown for reproduction.
The Slime the snails secret makes it easier for snails to engage in mating process, after this they go in separate directions.
Snails have both reproduction parts. After they conceive they lay up to 100 eggs.
The eggs take four weeks to be hatched.
Snails mate monthly.
Biology of snails
The body of a snail consists of a head, foot, coiled mass located in the shell.
The snails move by means of expanding and extracting muscles on the foot.
Mucus glands located in the anterior of the foot secrete mucus and in the body protects the body against loss of water.
They have two pairs of tentacles, shell and a mouth for feeding.
Types of Snail Farming Systems
There are four systems of snail farming that are recognized, they include:
- Outdoor pens
- In sealed systems such as plastic tunnel houses
- Snails may breed and hatch inside a controlled environmental and then may be placed outside to mature after 6-8 weeks
- Buildings with a controlled climate
Housing Your Snail For Your Snail Farming Business
Snails are kept in snail pens or enclosures.
Enclosures for snails are generally thin and long, this allows you to walk around the whole pen without harming them.
The enclosure sides should be made of wood or block and covered with a screen or a net.
Snails have feeding season and a rest period.
Feeding season starts in April till October and rest in summer. Place snail food is placed in large clumps in different places of the room.
Feeding depends on the weather and mating season.
Snails stop feeding when mating starts and resumes after it lays eggs.
Irrigating the pen in the evening encourages them to feed.
Snails prefer juicy leaves and vegetables over dry ones.
You will need to give them calcium at least once a week if not available in the soil.
Disease and Predator Control For Your Snal Farming
Parasites, nematodes, fungi, trematodes, and microatropods attacks snails and which spreads quickly when the population is large.
Pseudomonas bacteria cause intestinal infections.
Probable predators include mice, skunks, birds, rats lizards, moles and frogs.
You can use a a screen or net that you use to cover the enclosure protects snails and keep at bay birds and other predators.
You might also need to use fencing that is made of hard plastic sheet or galvanized metal to help keep out some predators our of your snail farming business.
Snail Farming As A Business
Snail farming represents a source of income to the snail farmer; this is because there is a thriving international trade of snails in Europe and North America.
Even today, snail farming has got a very real economic significance. In France alone, 40,000 tonnes of snails are eaten per year.
Demand of snail meat is increasing hence, demand exceeds supply.
U.S. imports of snails were worth more than $4.5 million in 1995 and came from 24 countries.
This includes preserved or prepared snails and snails that are live, fresh, chilled, or frozen.
Major exporters to the U.S. are France, Indonesia, Greece and China.
The U.S. exported live, fresh, chilled, or frozen snails worth $55,000 to 13 countries; most were shipped to Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Individual statistics are not available for U.S. exports of prepared or processed snails from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Additional Snail Farming Tips: