A complete guide on Snail farming for beginners in Nigeria
Snail farming has in recent time increased in its popularity among the Nigerian farmers, this is not a surprise though. One would expect that an agribusiness as profitable in Nigeria as snail farming will have a huge number of farmers investing it.
Though this increase in number of snails farmers hasn’t gone without many beginners experiencing a great loss (in death of snails) in their farm as a result of many preventable management mistakes.
This is the case of snail farming in Nigeria, many farmers are victims of one costly mistake or the other. This points to the fact that many beginners lack the right direction and knowledge to succeed in snail farming and questions the stand of snail farming for beginners in Nigeria.
The truth is that understanding what needs to be done in snail farming as a beginner is important. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step beginners guide on what you must do to succeed in snail farming.
You will at the end of this article learn the step-by-step guide to starting a profitable snail farming business.
For a start, you have to note that; every agribusiness just like other normal business have factors which determine whether or not one will be successful in such business.
Snail farming is not an exception to this, and so, as a beginner, you need to understand these keys steps.
To be successful in snail farming, here are the steps you need to follow.
If you are also interested in starting and running successfully, a snail farming business in Nigeria as a beginner, these are the steps to successful snail farming in Nigeria.
- Get proper training
- Select a suitable system of snail farming
- Select a suitable site
- Construct a suitable snail house
- Use a safe method in sourcing for your breeding snails
- Source for viable snail species
- Prepare the pen properly before introducing your snails
- Introduce the snails at the right time
- Provide the right food for the snails
- Feed the snails properly
- Provide proper care to the snails.
- Market your snails before they are due for harvest
- Sell to those who can afford your product.
The first step to becoming a successful snail farmer is to get proper training before starting your farm.
Step 1. Get proper training
In snail farming for beginners in Nigeria, the importance of proper training prior to you starting your snail farming business cannot be overemphasized.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with so many beginners in snail farming, every agribusiness is seen as a walk around business, this is the major reason so many farmers make costly avoidable.
The idea of snail farming for beginners in Nigeria is to enlighten intending farmers on what they need to do to succeed in the business of snail farming. To succeed in snail farming in Nigeria and any other place, you need proper training.
Most beginners in snail farming don’t know the importance of training, therefore they assume that they can easily start and succeed in snail farming business without prior knowledge or training, this is wrong and has led beginners in snail farming to a great loss.
A student of ours, two years ago lost over 7,234 snails in three days because of unfavourable temperature of his pens, he failed to moderate the temperature in the pen.
His snails could not survive the hot temperature in the pens and they started dying, just very few survived that was due to our intervention.
Proper training is important as it will avail you the opportunity to learn all you need as a beginner in snail farming.
During the course of your training, you will be exposed to the value chain in snail farming.
You will learn about the different snail species for profitable farming, how to source for and identify them.
How to set up your farm properly, how to source for food and manage the same, and how to manage the affairs of your farm properly.
Proper training makes the difference, it could be online or offline, the target is to get you acquainted with snail farming before you start your farm.
It is important you undergo proper training before starting your snail farm, after your training, your next step is to choose a suitable site.
Step 2. Select a suitable system of snail farming
There are three types of snail farming system any beginner in snail farming can practice. We have the intensive, extensive and semi or mixed snail farming system.
Intensive system of snail farming
In the intensive, the snails are kept in an enclosed environment, closely monitored and are under total supervision by the owner. This system seems to be the dominant system of snail farming in Nigeria.
Their activities are totally controlled by the farmer, who manages them in terms of feeding, water supply, cleaning and other daily practices.
This is the system of farming that suits farmers with little capital strength, it involves the use of boxes, tyres, trench pens, drums, empty cans.
The extensive system of snail farming
This is the system of snail farming in which snails rather than being densely confined in small enclosures and fed only compound foods, are allowed to roam freely and feed on open pastures of living food crops.
This system recreates an exact natural habitat of snails using an artificial method. An example can be seen in plastic tunnel snail housing type, greenhouses, free-range snail pens and buildings with controlled climate snail farm.
Semi or Mixed snail farming system
This system of snail farming combines the intensive and extensive type of snail farming.
Here, the farmer tries to create an environment similar to snail’s natural breeding environment by creating a green vegetation type of environment for the snails.
The movement of the snails are still controlled to an extent but they are allowed more space, unlike the intensive system.
What you need to note from the above when it comes to snail farming for beginners in Nigeria are as follows
Your choice of farming system is important in determining how successful you will be in snail farming.
Choosing a suitable farming system is therefore paramount. Chose a system you can comfortably create and manage.
You should be more focused on doing what the snails will appreciate, your target is to satisfy the snails and give them what will make them feel that they are inhabiting in their natural environment.
If you have the resources to execute the extensive system which is obviously more cash consuming, then it’s better for your snails
Else, you implement the intensive system which is less cash consuming and easier to manage. A good snail farming system makes the management of your snail farm easy.
Step 3: Select a suitable site
Snails are cold-blooded animals and therefore, they thrive best in areas with moderate temperatures and high humidity.
When this is not the case (When the temperature is not favourable) snails aestivate. Snails aestivate if the temperature is very high, > c. 30 °C, or if air humidity is too low, < c. 70-75% relative humidity.
Snails hibernate if the temperature drops below c. 5 °C. Your snails will find it hard to live and produce well if the temperature of your choice location is always high.
A good choice of snail farming site should be of good and moderate climatic qualities. You must take account of the temperature of the site before deciding to build your snail farm.
The wind is another climatic factor you have to consider in selecting your site. Wind movement causes dryness in snails, if possible, avoid areas with a history of excessive wind.
If otherwise, ensure that your snail house is situated out of wind direction.
The land shape is also an important factor in site selection. The land shape must be flat, this helps in easy access and managing your snails.
It is easier to manage snails on flat surfaces than on sloppy areas. The land should be flat.
The soil type should also be sandy-loam with moderate water-holding capacity, loamy or humus soil.
Your snails will become inactive and stop growing losing valuable growing time if these climatic and site conditions aren’t compatible with the demand of the snails.
Step 4: Construct a suitable snail house
In constructing your snail house (snailery), the snail house must be spacious (Overcrowding is one of the main causes of death in snail farming).
The snail house must be well-protected against harmful insects, insects are capable of causing damage to the snails.
The temperature inside the pens should be moderately wet, your snail house should be covered enough to prevent the escape of your snails.
Snails are known to climb structures and you will be amazed how far they can go when allowed.
You should cover the top of the snail house as well as the sides to prevent the snails from escaping.
You can build a hutch box snail house, trench pen, drum, cemented pens, you can also use an empty can, Mini-paddock pens or you construct a greenhouse snail house.
Your choice depends on what you can afford and maintain.
Your snailery (Snail house) must be kept clean, it must be easily accessible for your day-to-day activities in your snail farm.
Step 5: Use a safe method in sourcing for your breeding snails
The method used in sourcing for your breeding snails (the snails you want to start your farm with) can affect the productivity of your snail farm as a whole.
There are many ways one can get his snails, from the market, buying from another snail farmer, or get from the bush. The two safest ways to get your breeding snails are either from the bush or from a trusted agent or farmer, this is because.
If you buy from the market, it is hard to know the health history of the snails or how long they have been exposed to unfavourable conditions.
These unfavourable conditions such as exposure to direct sunlight are cable of reducing the productivity of your snails.
When you buy from a trusted agent, you can be sure that your snails came from a safe source.
This is the same as when you get your snails from the bush, you are sure that they are healthy and will therefore be productive.
So, as a beginner in snail farming, ensure that you either get your snails from the bush by yourself, or you buy from a trusted snail farmer or an agent.
Step 6: Source for viable snail species
There are three main snail species seen among snail farmers in Nigeria. The Achatina Achatina, achatina marginate and Achatina Fulica
The species prefers warm conditions, 25-30 °C and relative humidity of 80-95%. A. achatina is said not to be the easiest species to farm because of the very steady conditions it is used to in the wild:
The species is highly adaptable to a wide range of environments, modifying its life cycle to suit local conditions.
(big black snail, giant African land snail)
This is a large snail, generally growing to about 20 cm and a live weight of 500 g.
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.
This species is of two types; Achatina Marginata Suturalis (big in size and found in the west) and Achatina Marginata ovum (small in size found in the south).
Many farmers prefer to keep the Achatina Marginata Suturalis because of their size.
The species to choose as a beginner in snail farming depend on your need, but if you want to rear snails for commercial purposes, then the Achatina Marginata Suturalis and Achatina Achatina are your best options.
Step 7: Prepare the pen properly before introducing your snails
The purpose of constructing a snail pen is to create an environment that will replicate the natural snail loving environment.
To do this, you have to prepare the snail pens or snail house in a way that assume the natural snail environment.
Ensure that the snail pens are moderately wet, do not waterlog the snail pen. Provide shade in the pen with the use of banana or plantain leaves.
Use flat plastic tray in supplying food and water to the snails. The snail pens should be covered with nets so as to allow air into the pen.
The pen should mostly look dark, snails are nocturnal animals. They carry out their activities at night, therefore there should be a night-like feel in the pen. This is in a bid to replicate that environment for them.
Step 8: Introduce the snails at the right time
Do not introduce the snails into the pen in the afternoon.
The snails should be introduced into the pen, preferably at night, from 7-9 pm at night or in the morning usually very early in the morning.
Step 9: Provide the right food for the snails
Never believe the saying that snails eat anything, of course, snails eat a wide range of food but not anything.
As a matter of fact, some food materials are dangerous to the snails and therefore should be avoided.
Snail food include fruits such as grape, mango, melon, nectarine, pears, plantains, strawberries, watermelon and tomato etc.
Tuber such as yam, sweet potatoes, plantain, cocoyam, cassava etc.
Leaves and Vegetable such as carrots, peas, lettuce, and leafy greens, eggplant, celery, cabbage, beans. Etc.
Flowers such as hibiscus, cauliflower, rose, sunflower etc.
Snails also take enough water; you must avoid chlorinated water. Salt should never come close to your snail house.
Calcium must be a constant part of your snail food if you want your snails to perform well.
Step 10: Feed the snails properly
In most cases in snail farming for beginners in Nigeria, feeding isn’t an issue because snails eat a wide range of food but sourcing for your snail food is one part of the feeding journey of snails.
Proper feeding is the main part of the feeding journey and is very important in snail farming especially in hatchlings and point of lay snails.
They desire to be fed properly; the content of the food is however is more important than the number of times they are fed.
You should feed your snails twice a day while they are growing, morning and night. The feeding pattern can be reduced to once a day when they have grown stronger and bigger in size.
Step 11: Provide proper care to the snails.
Your snails deserve your best kind of care especially when they are still young and growing, ensure that the temperature in the snail house is always moderate and suitable for snail production.
Provide food, water and calcium as at when needed.
Protect the snails from invaders such as insects, sometimes humans (thieves) and harmful animals. The snail house should be kept out of reach of children.
Clean the snail house regularly, ensure you remove ruminant food material in the snail pen/house before supplying another.
Regularly check the snails to ascertain their health status and changes in their body and shells.
Proper care increases the productivity of the snails.
Step 12: Market your snails before they are due for harvest
In the case of snail farming for beginners in Nigeria, marketing isn’t always seen as a needed part of snail farming, because snails are sold in every local market.
But as marketing is important and you don’t have to wait till your snails are due for sale before you start marketing your products.
Get out and meet restaurants, individuals, hotels and groceries, inform them of your snails that will be ready for the market soon.
Get the needed contacts, with the right marketing, you may not need the local market.
In most cases, your snails are booked before they are ready for the market.
That is the gain of proper marketing.
Step 13: Sell to those who can afford your product.
When your snails are ready to be sold if you want to make more profit, you must sell to those who can pay for your products.
You don’t just sell to anyone who needs to eat snails, you should have a viable price which will be sustainable.
The fact that someone wants to eat snails and has cone to buy doesn’t mean you should sell to them at any price they have all because you want to sell out your snails.
Another point here is to sell when you are supposed to sell, there are times in the season when the price of snails is generally low.
These are time you should do more breeding than selling, sell when the price is favourable and profit-making.
When the demand is higher than the supply both in the local and urban market.
These are the time you make a huge profit from your snail. That’s it, believe me if you do all that I have stated in this article.
I can assure you that you MUST make a huge profit from your snail business.
Conclusively, snail farming in Nigeria has developed to an extent, we won’t deny that, so here are what we have achieved so far. We have stated right that as much as snail farming is profitable and easy, it doesn’t come without its own challenges.
These challenges become worst when you lack the necessary knowledge to engage in snail farming.
We have also stated that it is also easy to lose hugely within a short period of time in snail farming if you don’t follow the right principles.
So, you must do it right to get the right result. Follow the steps above and the result will surely be positive
The idea is to provide accurate information on snail farming for beginners in Nigeria.
I hope you have learned a lot from this post, I really would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and question.
You can drop them in the comment section below. I as always will attend to your questions and suggestions.
I wish you all the best on your farm.