Do you love snails and you would like to extend your love for it to not just being a consumer but a producer or will you rather just love to raise it as a pet? Probably you are just trying to get the perfect livestock business idea to invest in. Whatever your intentions and desires are, this article seeks to help you achieve them and at the lowest cost possible.
Snails are very quiet animals that could be raised by almost anyone that has a passion for livestock cultivation. Snails are not just economically beneficial but very nutritious too. The market opportunity for snail farming or heliciculture is huge but grossly underrated. Snails are a huge part of the diet in many parts of Africa, and a statistics says about 1 billion quantity of snails are consumed in the US restaurants annually that is a huge number of snails, don’t you think? Although they are not always affordable and available all year round. If you rear snail in commercial quantity, hotels, and fast food restaurants will be your regular customers.
The prices of raw, matured snails vary depending on the size. However, the annual demand for snail in kg increases steadily annually. The international trade in snails is flourishing in Europe and North America. The United State America imports more than $4million worth of snails annually from all over the world, including Nigeria.
For many years now, snails handpicked from the farm or bush has been the only way to get snails to the market and dinner table. Currently, the demand for snail is higher than the supplies, an indication that the market potential of snail is inexhaustible, locally and internationally. Starting both small and large scale snail farming businesses in the only way to fill up the spaces between the demand for snail and its supply in Africa.
5 Steps To Starting Snail Farming
If it has worked elsewhere, it will work for you and at wherever you are. Below are the five basic steps you need to follow to start a profitable snail farming business.
Step 1 – Decide which species of snail to farm.
When making a snail farm, you will have to use a single specie of snail. Research has shown that snail species to be raised differ with climate and for colder regions the best to raise will be petit gris or popularly known as little grey snails which are greatly edible. Though, the US do not allow for snails importation as they are considered pests. For warmer climate like Nigeria the Achatina-Achatina works quite conveniently.
Step 2 – Set-up your farmland for housing.
Your snail housing must have enough space for your snails to graze freely. Overcrowding your snails retards its development and should be avoided. A well-spaced snail housing is ideal as it allows for free mobility and reduce the risk of disease outbreak. Snails move quite slowly but do not make the mistake of underrating their escape abilities. It is best to construct escape proof housing, preferably a pen house that will be spacious and accessible with a soil depth of 10 inches and trees around it.
Step 3 – Purchase your snails
If you want to start a snail farm, you will need to buy snails from the market or anywhere else you can get quality snails. It’s always best to be able to examine the snails before purchasing them so you don’t get unhealthy ones.
When you first start your snail farm, you will want to get healthy, fully grown snails that will lay eggs and help populate your farm. Look at the shell of the snail. If there is a lip, that means they are a fully grown snail.
Step 4 –Snail Feeding and Rearing
Snails are vegetarians and can be fed with wide varieties of foods such as vegetables and fruits like, mango, cucumber, banana, pear, tomato, cassava, okra leaves or lettuce.
Typically, mating and laying eggs are a vital part of snail farming mating occurs during spring and summer. As hermaphrodites, snails can fertilize each other as soon as they are mature enough. In order for the egg laying to go over smoothly, you should use high-quality soil with the right temperature and humidity.
Step 5 – Snails Harvesting and marketing
It is not economically wise to harvest your snails before it’s maturity, it has to be mature before harvesting. Do not harvest all the matured snails at once to sell in the market. It is important to keep few for breeding and to serve as base stock for your snail farm.
Snail has good market demand and price. You can easily sell the snails in the local market. Snail meat consuming rate is growing very fast around the globe. So, exporting in the international market can make you more money.
Cost of Starting A Snail Farming Business
The mandatory expenses you need to account for if you’re wondering how to set up a snail farm include: housing, buying fresh snails, feeding, handling and processing the snails, marketing, and transportation.
You can start heliciculture with approximately about 350 dollars.