How to start a snail farming business with little capital
If you are looking to invest in agribusiness then, you should look out for snail farming, Snail farming business is one of the most profitable agribusiness ideas and has proved over time to be a good source for steady stream of income generation, yet, it is rarely explored.
This is because many haven’t discovered how profitable rearing these slow animals is, the good thing is, you don’t need to spend hugely to start a snail farm, you can start with as low as #5,000.
But you must have the right knowledge and understand how to successfully start and manage a snail farming business for you to enjoy the profitability of Snail Farming business, the knowledge you need is what you are about to get here.
In this guide, I will walk you through how to start a snail farming business with little capital. You will not only learn how to start snail farming business, but you will also learn, how to manage your farm.
You will also understand where and when to start your snail farming business and what you need to do to reduce the cost of starting your snail farming business.
The kind of snails to keep and where to get them from. How to market and sell your snail products and make a good profit.
So, why snail farming?
Why you should start snail farming business
Here are the reasons why you should start snail farming business over other trending agribusinesses
- Snail farming requires little capital to start: Snail farming is not capital intensive, you can start with as little as #5,000 and run your farm successfully. All you need is the knowledge on how to manage snails and a place to keep your snails.
- Snails consume a wide variety of food: Unlike in poultry, piggery or sheep, Snails consume a wide variety of food. Snail food ranges from leaves, tubers, fruits, flowers, which are readily available in the market and beside you, so you don’t need to spend huge amount of money to feed them.
- Snail Farming business is less stressful: Rearing snail is less time consuming and stress-free when compared with other livestock. You don’t have to always be in your farm as seen in poultry or rabbit farming.
- Snails are highly prolific. Snails are hermaphrodite, this means that both male and female snails lay eggs. Unlike other animals, every snail in your snail farm is a potential mother, all of them lay eggs. Snails lay eggs in clutches; each laying clutch can produce over 15 to 30 eggs and in a year, you can have over 6 to 8 laying clutches or more.
- Increasing demand for snail in the market: The demand for snail is largely increasing. It has grossly surpassed the supply of snail and its product in the market, making snails more expensive than it used to be.
- Snail has several nutritional benefits: Snail has a lot of nutritional benefits ranges from rich protein content, low calories, rich minerals, low fat and good amount of vitamins. Snail meat is basically the meat everyone should be on, it benefits all no matter your age.
- They are eco-friendly: Snails can be kept in any environment and nobody will know. This is because snails are quiet animals, they do not make noise, they do not smell as well so you can rear snails anywhere you are.
- Snail farming business has low risk involved: The risk of losses in snail farming business is very minimal when compared with other livestock. All you need is to feed them properly and ensure you make the environment suitable for the snails.
- Snail farming business can be done by anyone: Snail farming can be done by anyone at any place and time. It does not select gender or age, place or time. Its eco-friendly therefore can be done anywhere.
Brief Features of snail you should know
Snail farming is popularly known as Heliciculture and is the act and process of rearing, keeping, and growing snails for commercial or subsistence purposes.
Scientifically, snails are members of the Gastropoda class and are therefore known for their slow nature.
Snails are nocturnal animals meaning that they carry out most of their activities at night; they are covered by their shell that they retreat completely into once they notices any danger or feels threatened.
Snails are known as “Congo meat” in some part of Africa. Snail meat contains basic amino acids needed by the body for proper functioning.
Snail meat is also low in fat and cholesterol and therefore, act as an antidote for several cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke and that’s why people love it.
Its by-products are used as ornament and ingredients for cosmetics and medical purposes. Snail shell is used in many livestock feed production industries as a substitute for bone meal or oyster shell so almost every part of snail is important.
So, what do you need to start your snails farm and succeed?
Requirements for starting a snail farm
To rear snails successfully, one needs healthy breeding snails to start the farm, a place to keep the snails, good understanding of how to manage the snails and understanding of the snails market.
Aside that, you will need the following equipment, it is also important to note that you don’t necessarily need to buy all these equipment as you can make use of the ones you already have in the house that can play these roles or use other alternatives.
Important Equipment you need to start snail farming business
A snail farmer needs the following equipment to start a snail farming business. Like earlier stated, none of these equipment is a must, you can comfortably start your farm even without any of the equipment but to run a more relaxed farm, you will likely need them.
- A weighing scales: For measuring the weight of your snails
- Wheelbarrow: For moving materials like soil and other important materials in the farm.
- Water tanks: For storing of water especially in greenhouse snail farming system.
- Hand Trowel: This is used for digging small holes, transplanting small sized materials and performing similar tasks.
- Watering can: For watering your snail pen and sometimes pastures around the farm especially in extensive snail farming system.
- Shovel and Rake: This is used for clearing and cleaning.
- Feeding trough: This equipment is used for feeding purposes.
- Water trough: This is used to supply water to the snails in the snail pen
- Hoe: For cutting, clearing and cleaning as well as digging.
- Cutlass: For cutting, clearing and cleaning of the snail farm.
- Bucket: This can be used for many purposes such as transporting soil to the pen, water movement
- Plastic spoon: This is used to move snail eggs out of the pen after they are laid
- Plastic plates: This is where you put the eggs after picking them from the pen.
Others requirements are
*A good site near his house with the right kind of soil and the right amount of water for the snails to live and grow.
*Enough food and shelter plants *
The materials to build a pen (A snail pen is also a snail house) for the snails.
How to start a snail farming business
Step 1: Study your environment
This is like a preparatory survey, it is aimed at understanding whether or not your environment is suitable for the survival of snails.
Secondly, you try to understand what’s the people’s view is about snail farming. Is snail farming allowed in your locality?
There are areas where snail rearing is forbidden due to religious reasons. It is not advisable to situate your snail farm in these areas.
Other factors to consider here include
- Accessible road: If you are running a commercial snail farm, your customers may need to visit your farm.
This means that there will be a need for an accessible road for easy to and fro movement on the farm.
- Security: it is not enough to set up your snail farm, you must ensure that your farm is secured.
You must check how secured the area you want to set up your farm is before starting your snail farm. This is to prevent invaders and hoodlums from destroying or robbing you of your snails.
Step2: Choose a suitable snail farming system
There are two main systems of snail farming. These are: Indoor and Outdoor systems.
Indoor System: In the Indoor system of snail farming, the snails are raised in pens or boxes like the Hutch box or trench pen. Here, the owner cares for the snails, provides all their need from their food (such as mixture of fresh fruits, calcium, vegetables, concentrates and household products) and other food materials.
This system places on the owner the responsibility of temperature regulation by maintaining favorable temperature, regular cleaning, and general health of the snails.
The system requires little space as the snails could be raised even in trays placed on shelves on the walls, hutch boxes among others.
Below are different examples of indoor snails farming
Out-door System: In the Outdoor system, snails are raised on pastures outdoor, they are not confined in a room or building rather this system is modified in a way that the snails are confined out-doors in enclosures and fed both synthetic and natural diets.
Here, the activities of the snails are not totally controlled by the owner, The farmer has very little management role to play over the performance of the snails.
The snails move about feeding on natural food materials. You can find this system in Greenhouse snails farming and Extensive snails farming systems.
See an example of Outdoor snail farming in the video below
Step 2: Select a suitable site for your snail farm.
A prospective snail farmer must choose a suitable site for his farm. One thing you must note about starting a snail farming business is that snails don’t perform well under harsh weather condition neither do they perform well in an extremely cold condition.
Snail requires moderate space, your backyard, indoors or in the field is good. The type of soil, the water content of the soil are all major factors to consider in site selection.
- Location of Farm: The snail farm should preferably be located close to the farmer’s house.
In this way he will be able to watch his snail regularly, detect any problem early, protect them from their enemies and take care of them easily. There should be adequate space for future expansion.
- Soil Type: The soil you will put in the snail house should be Sandy-Loam soil, rich in humus and other decaying plant and animal materials., organic matter and supports vegetation. It should not be waterlogged, not acidic and do not contain any form of salt.
The soil should contain sufficient lime or calcium for eggs and shell and snails shell formation.
Snails do not enjoy hard soils nor do they live in very porous soils beacuse they cannot dig into hard soils.
- The land Shape: The shape of the land is only important in outdoor snail farming, if you are using boxes like Hutch boxes or trench pentyres or cans, the shape of the land doesn’t matter. You don’t have to worry about it.
But if you are doing outdoor snail farming, the shape of the land will be needful, the shape of the land should be flat, this is important to the wellbeing for your farm, a flat level land is suitable.
Sloppy lands make it hard to manage your farm, walking on the farm won’t be stress-free as the shape isn’t flat to walk on. The site should be covered with shades and moderately moist.
- Moisture content of Soil: Snails prefer moderately wet soil, you should avoid very wet lands and lands prone to flooding in the rainy season, that is if you are doing outdoor snail farming but if you are doing indoor snail farming avoid putting wet soil in the pen.
Your snails needs water because snails usually seal off their aperture and go into hibernation during the dry season (hot times) unless a continuous supply of moisture is guaranteed.
Planting of shelter plants like banana/plantain can help provide the necessary conditions needed for the survival and production of snails.
- Wind Direction: Understand the climatic condition of the place is important for the snails. Snails are easily affected by unfavorable climatic condition. They dehydrate easily.
Snail farms should be situated in areas that are well protected from the wind. Strong winds during the snail growing season are bad for snails because they lead to dehydration and subsequent drying up of snails.
The site should not obstruct wind movement to avoid wind effect, to prevent dryness, your snail house should be situated out of wind direction.
- Temperature and Humidity: Snails are cold blooded animals and therefore sensitive to change in atmospheric humidity and temperatures of its area of resident.
Snails therefore prefer a habitat that is neither too hot nor cold (moderate type of temperature). When the temperature is too hot or too cold, the snails withdraw into its shell just like they do when they sense any danger.
This is called hibernation. Snails produce best on temperatures of about 20 – 25°C.
Step 3: Build a suitable snail house
The type of snail house you will build can be small or large depending on how many snails you want to raise. For a beginner, it is better you start small and grow over time.
If you start small, you will need fewer materials and fewer snails for this. As you become more experienced in snail farming, you can build a bigger pen and get more snails to raise.
Other important factors you should consider while building your snail farm includes
- A type of snail farming system you want: Like earlier stated, you can practice either outdoor or indoor. Outdoor require more space while indoor require lesser space.
- Available space: The space available to you, if you want to start your snail farm indoor, you can engage in a backyard snail farm, here you doesn’t need much space.
- Available capital: This is the amount of money you want to spend setting up your farm, if you have good capital to invest you can construct an outdoor snail farm but with little capital, you can get a hutch box and start your farm with it.
- Desired size of farm: This is how big or small you want your farm to be and the number of snails you desire to keep.
Your snail house must be spacious, well-protected to ensure insect-free, inside of your pen must be moist, not waterlogged. Here is an example of hutch box you can construct.
Your snailery (Snail house) must be kept clean, it must be easily accessible for your day-to-day activities in your snail farm.
For small-scale snail farming, you can use old tyres or small boxes like the one below.
If you have a bigger space, you can construct a bigger pen, Snail loves the dark and cool environment.
You can choose any of the the systems of raising snails and build your snail house to suit your choice.
To learn more on how to construct your own snail house, click the link below.
Your target is to create an environment that is similar to the natural snail environment.
See more snail farming house picture below
Step 4: Get a viable species of snail for your snail farm.
The first thing you have to note in sourcing for your breeding stock (Snails you want to start your farm with) is that the success of your snail farm depends in part on the quality of your foundation stock.
If you start your farm with snails that are not healthy, you will definitely run into loss, they stand high death risk.
You are therefore advised to choose your breeding stock based on the following characteristics.
- The snails must have good health history: The health history of the snails should not be questionable. If the snails are of bad health history, their productivity will definitely be low.
- Good strong shell: Snail shells are used for protection, they guard the snails against their enemies, snails with cracked shells or thin shells are not good and therefore should not be selected to start your snail farm.
- Fully-Grown Snails: As a beginner, you should choose only fully-grown (Point of lay) snails as starting stock. Reason is because they are hardier and would produce eggs and baby snails earlier than immature ones.
- Snails that fill their shell: There are many reasons why a snail will not fill its shell and sickness is one of them, it can also be as a result of loss of water due to harsh weather, it is therefore advisable that as a beginner, you should choose only snails that fill their shells to avoid picking sick snails.
- Large Snails: If you want to make more profit from your snails farming business then think large snails. The larger snails of any type of snail will be more profitable in the market, they also appear healthier and lay more eggs than smaller looking snails.
As a farmer, you should choose the largest of the fully grown snails of the type of snails you want to rear.
- Same Kind of Snail: The beauty of starting with the same kind of snail is that you don’t have to worry about giving them selective management practices, therefore, as a starter, same kind of snail should be selected for the snail farm. You can start with any of the land snails.
Secondly, Ensure you get your snails from a trusted agent
When sourcing your snail, you wouldn’t want to buy from the market, you don’t know how long these snails have been with the owner before they were brought to the market.
You can get your snails from a farmer who is reselling it. From a trusted agent, farmer, or an established snail business owner. All these are viable, but the best environment to get your snail is naturally from the bush.
How to pick snails from the bush
Clear a little portion of land during raining season in the bush (mostly mini forested areas with very cool temperatures).
During evening time, spray sweet fruits like Pineapple, Pawpaw, Plantain, Banana, on the cleared piece of land.
Go back there when it’s dark, you are likely to pick Snails suitable for rearing. Continue going there until you get enough quantity for rearing.
If you use this method to source for your snails, you won’t spend much money in starting your snail farm, you only need to build the cage for your snails and get the snails FREE from the bush using the above method. “No too much expenses involved”.
Here are the species of snails to look out for when sourcing for your snails.
Best Snail species of snail for Snail Farming
The popular species of economic interest is the West African Giant Land Snails. The Giant African Land snails are the best and most common species found in Africa.
It comprises of the Achatina Achatina, Achatina Fulica and Archachatina marginata.
They are the best for farming, they are prolific and can withstand harsh conditions.
- The Achatina Fulica
This specie of snail is the smallest among the three. It is reddish-brown in colors and has weak yellowish vertical markings.
This color depends on the environment and diet. They are prolific and lay big sized eggs.
This is the biggest of the three, they can grow to 120mm in shell length.
They lay the least number of eggs among the three, but they are the fastest-growing of the Giant African Land snails
- Achatina Achatina
This Specie is popularly called the giant Ghana Snail. It is also known as the giant tiger land snail.
The good thing about this species is that it is a very profit breeder. This is the best for snail farmers because it has a higher-yielding capacity. But for large size, Marginata is the best.
Step 5: Prepare your snail pen
How to prepare your snail pen
You only see snails in a cool environment, that is the nature of snail. When building your snail house, you must bear that in mind.
Fill the floor of the pen (at least 1/3 percent of the height of the pen) with sandy-loam soil. Treat the soil before filling the pen with it. You can learn how to treat soil for snail farming by clicking below
In most cases, snail gets appreciable quality of calcium from the soil they live on. Snail also lays its eggs in the soil and drink water from there too.
After treating the soil, reintroduce the treated soil into the pen. Apply clean water on the soil to increase the moisture content of the soil.
You should be wary about smaller insects like ants and termites. The area can be fumigated to prevent insect attack.
Condemned engine oil can also be used to make demarcation with the oil going around the snail pen.
Note: Avoid Clay soil or any Acidic and Salty soil.
Step 6: Introduce your snails into the pen
After treating, reintroducing the treated soil into the pen and applying water on the soil.
Ensure the water is not much. You can ensure that the water is not much by simply packing the soil with your hand.
Fold your hands, the soil will form a mould shape of your hand. Throw the soil up, if it falls and scatters closely, then the moisture content is moderate. If it, on the other hand, falls and do not separate, then the moisture content is too much.
Introduce your snails immediately you get the moisture content right. It is advisable to provide sheds and mulch your pen after introducing your snail.
You can use fresh leaves to mulch your pen to regulate the temperature. On one side of the pen, the feeding tray will be situated alongside watering can.
Snails will come out of their shades at night to feed and go back to the shade early in the morning. Cover the pen once you are done introducing the snails.
The cover should be made of net strong enough to prevent insects and termites from entering the pen.
Step 7: Properly feed and manage your snail.
Snails feed mainly on leaves, fruits, flowers, tubers, and household waste (peels of fruits and tubers like pawpaw, pineapple, yam, and potato).
Plants that have hairy leaves or produce toxic chemicals are not good for snails.
Snail needs a regular supply of calcium and phosphorus for shell formation, good health, and maximum production.
Snail feed on green leaves, fruits, vegetables, flowers, tubers and can utilize other ranges of foods.
Snails need calcium to grow shells, therefore, Calcium should be provided. Calcium can be gotten from eggshells or bought in the market.
Leaves like: Cocoyam leaves, Pawpaw leaves, Cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage cucumber leaves.
Fruits like: Tomatoes, Pears and Oil Palm fruit, Cucumber. While growing, Mango, eggplant, and pawpaw are all snail food.
Snails also eat tuber crops like yam, cocoyam, and sweet potato.
Agric by-products like corn by-products, soybean, palm kernel cake, peel of plantain, banana, fresh maize chaff.
Step 8: Protect your snails from pest and diseases.
Insect and pests are snail killers, their tiny nature makes it hard for them to be noticed
If given the room to thrive, they come into your pen, multiply in numbers and massively attack your snails.
You can prevent that by closely monitoring the pen. Keep your pen out of reach of children.
Cover the top of the pen with well-constructed net and wood, metal or any other capable material.
Ensure you fumigate around the pen from time to time. Always remove leftover food materials.
Do not feed the snails decayed or rotten food materials. Carry out cleanup in the pen at regular interval. I am very sure your snails will be fine if you maintain the above measures.
Step 9: Provide adequate care for the snails.
Generally, snails are more productive when taken care of, ensure you provide your snails regular needs.
*Watch them carefully to see that they are eating well, if you have the time, you can always check on them, if you don’t prepare their food well and they will gladly enjoy it.
*Give them the right type of food in adequate quantity.
For outdoor farmers, on dry days, water the ground daily. Always water in the evening at sunset.
Ensure that the soil is moist and not wet, snails do not appreciate wet soils, they only love it moist. In areas with dry season, when plants do not grow, snails dig into the ground to rest.
They should not be watered at this time, otherwise the snails come out of the ground when they should not. The snails breeding season most countries corresponds to the period of the rainy seasons.
Luckily, snails don’t require much, they are not task-demanding. You just need to make them comfortable and they will live fine.
Step 10: Harvest your snails.
Harvesting of snails?
“When is snail good for harvesting” is a regular question in snail farming,
Snail matures from six (6) to eight (8) months of breeding when managed and maintained very well.
It is not advisable to harvest your snails before they reach maturity. When mature, the brim of a snail becomes thicker and harder than other parts of the shell.
Do not harvest all the mature snails at once for marketing. You should try to keep a few to stock your snail farm for the continuity of your farm.
How to Harvest snails
For outdoor snail farmers, there will certainly be vegetation in your snails farm, sometimes your snails hide under the cover of vegetation, so the easiest time to find the snails is when the plants are wet (after it has rained) or at night when there is dew and they are moving about eating. You harvest your snails with hands by picking them one after the other.
The farmer can also put in some of the food that snails like (e.g. ripe pawpaw) and when they come out to eat, the farmer can collect them.
When harvesting your snails, carefully handle them, put them in a container such as basket, net sack or box, avoid breaking their shells. Too many snails (more than 1Okg) should not be put in one container otherwise those at the bottom would be injured.
How to prepare your snail for the market
If you harvested your snails for consumption, you need to clean and extract the snail, you can sell the shells or use them for calcium production for breeding more snails. but if you harvested to sell.
You should clean the snails ensure that the shell is not touched (broken), before taking them to the market.
You can also store them if you aren’t going to the market yet, but it is better you don’t harvest them if you are not ready to take them to the market.
Snails could be stored alive in containers filled with materials such as saw dust or chipped maize husks for as long as 6- 8 weeks.
Step 11: Market and sell your snails.
You can’t learn how to start a snail farm without talking about the snail market.
The snail is generally scarce during the dry season, the scarcity leads to the market being starved of an adequate supply of snail.
Even in wet seasons, the supply is not enough due to very little number of snail farmers.
As a consequence, snails can fetch much higher prices during the dry season (December to March) when supply often does not keep up with demand.
Sails may go on break during the dry seasons, but the human appetite for its taste always retains and continues to grow throughout the year.
Due to the steadily growing demand for snail, it makes a lot of sense to take maximum advantage of this market when the supply of snails is significantly short.
You can sell your snails to other snail farmers, you can also sell to restaurants, hotels and individuals.
There is also export opportunity in snail farming business, but it’s rarely explored so far.
Conclusively, snail farming business is certainly profitable, to farm snail, you need to understand how the snail responds to its environment, start on a small-scale level, and add as your farm grows.
Snail farming is easy, the tricks to making a good profit are simple and easy to put into practice as well.
It’s almost risk-free as they hardly record mortality unless when not managed well.
Never hesitate to talk to other farmers whenever you notice any abnormal changes in your farm.
You can join snail farming groups online.
Don’t forget to check the security level of the area you want to situate your farm before starting your farm.
We are done with how to start a snail farm.
In case you have forgotten the steps we followed, here are they
How to start a snail farming business successfully
To start a snail farming business, follow the steps below
- Study your environment.
- Choose a suitable snail farming system
- Select a suitable site for your snail farm.
- Build a suitable snail house
- Get a viable species of snail for your snail farm.
- Prepare your snail pen
- Introduce your snails into the pen
- Properly feed and manage your snail.
- Protect your snails from pest and diseases.
- Provide adequate care for the snails.
- Harvest your snails
- Market and sell your snails.
I will advise you to follow the guide and not skip any step.
They are all important and will contribute your successful setting up of your farm.
So, will you be investing in snail farming?
How confident are you about snail farming?
If you need any help in starting your snail farming business, please indicate in the comment box below, we will gladly assist you.
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