Snail farming or heliciculture is a profitable business that can earn you so much money. It is the practice of raising snails for commercial purposes. However, when thinking of starting a farming business, snail farming may not be the first thing that comes to mind because many people do not know of its many benefits, so they always go for popular options.
Fortunately, if you are considering snail farming, this guide will expose you to all it entails so you can learn how best to establish your snail farm.
Types of Snail Farming
There are two types of snail farming; both are equally profitable but have different methods.
Intensive Snail Farming
In intensive snail farming, the snails are confined; they are not allowed to move about freely to a far distance unless within the confines of their shelter. This shelter is sometimes created with dry plantain leaves to keep the environment dark and cool.
This is the second type of snail farming in their natural habitat; the farm will have plants like short bananas, plantains, potatoes, cocoyam, cucumber, watermelon, and so on. The plants provide a conducive environment for the snails, and it will protect them from sun and rainfall. The snails are allowed to roam freely on the farm.
The Benefits of Snail Farming
- Snails have a rapid growth rate.
- This farming requires low investment and maintenance costs.
- Snails are highly prolific breeders; they can lay hundreds of eggs at a time.
- Snails are good sources of proteins, calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and other vital nutrients.
- Snail farming is environmentally friendly and sustainable because they feed on organic materials like fruits, leaves, and vegetables, and their waste can be used as organic fertilizer.
- Snail farming can create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, generate income, and contribute to local economic development.
- Snail farming offers diverse market opportunities; snail meat is widely consumed in various cuisines worldwide, and the demand for snail products, including the shell, is high.
- Snail farming can be done in small spaces that may not be feasible for larger livestock.
- Snails play a vital role in soil aeration and nutrient cycling, which can improve the health of the ecosystem.
- Some species of snails are more resistant to drought, which means they are adaptable to climate change and have higher chances of survival during dry seasons.
See also: How to Start Fish Farming in Nigeria
How to Start Snail Farming
Decide on the Species of Snail to Raise
When starting snail farming, the first step is to decide on the species you want because there are different species of snails, and a snail farm must have only a single species. Past research has shown that the Achatina achatina species are best for warm climate regions like Africa.
However, the helix pomatia and helix aspersa can lay up to 100 eggs and survive in seasonal climates. So you need to research which species are suitable for your environment and which ones are in demand in your local markets.
Set up the Farmhouse
A snail farmhouse should have enough space for the number of snails you plan to buy to help them graze freely and reduce the risk of disease outbreaks. Also, overcrowding can slow down the development of the snails.
Snails may not move fast, but they can escape at the slightest opportunity, so you should endeavour to set up an escape-proof snail housing. A pen house is usually recommended, but it should be spacious and have access to soil depth.
Buy the Snail
Now that you have set up the snail house, it is time to purchase the snails; if you can’t find any farmer around you who sells snails for startups, you can look online to find one. It is best to examine the snails, make sure they are healthy and buy adult snails that will lay eggs and populate your farm.
Feeding and Rearing of Snails
Snails eat various nutritious foods, such as fruit slices, cabbage, lettuce, vegetable peelings, weeds, and cucumber. You can grow some of these vegetables on the snail farm and also put food in their habitat, but once they go bad, remove them and replace them with fresh food. In addition, snails also need to drink water, so leave a tray of distilled water in their house.
To maintain your snail farm, you need to change the soil every 3 months, water the farm when it doesn’t rain and pick the weeds that grow in your pen since they may disrupt the growth of vegetables.
Harvesting and Selling of the Snails
First, you have to be patient and wait till your snails are mature before you start harvesting them, and it is also unwise to harvest all your mature smiles at once for sale; you need to leave some of them so they can breed and serve as base stock for your farm.
This is the simple process you need to follow to learn how to start snail farming. Snails have good market prices, and you can easily sell them anytime because they are consumed at a very high rate and are also seen as a special type of meat around the globe.
Many people understand that snails have more nutrients and health benefits than other livestock, and for people with certain medical conditions, snails are excellent replacements for red meat.