Snail farming is a very lucrative business in Nigeria and all over the world. As a result of increased awareness on the profitability of snail farming, many entrepreneurs are beginning to delve into the business of snail rearing, processing and export. Sometime ago I wrote an article titled “processing and marketing ofsnail meat for export”, where I explained how to process and package snail meat for local and international market. You can click the link to read for yourself. However, this article will not be talking about snail meat processing, rather it will be discussing snail feeds and feeding.
If you are thinking of establishing a snail farm, or you already have one, this article will be very beneficial to you. Based on the premise that says “You are what you eat”, snail feeds and feeding must be given topmost priority in any snail farm venture for maximum performance. The snails should be fed properly as and at when due if you really want them to do very well. This is because the quality of your snails will depend on the quality of their feed.
SNAIL FEED CATEGORIES
Snails eat a wide variety of food which could fall into any of these categories: tubers, agricultural by products, fresh vegetables, fruits, leaves, cereals, fibers, drinks, and concentrates. Virtually all human consumables can be eaten by snails with few exceptions hence they are omnivorous in nature and that is why they have been able to survive for generations. History has it that snails have been in existence since prehistoric times.
Leaves and Vegetables: Some leaves eaten by snails include leaves of paw-paw, cocoyam, banana, sweet potato and cassava. Snails eat a lot of vegetables too. Some of their best vegetables include pumpkin, cabbage, lettuce, okra, water leaf, spinach, garden egg plant, amaranthus and all green vegetables that can be eaten by man.
Fruits: Snails also eat fruits, some of which include breadfruit, cucumber, green beans, nectarine melon, peach, plums, paw-paw, banana, plantain, orange, apple, pineapple, grape, tomatoes, ripe pear, avocado and all edible fruits.
Tubers: Snails also eat tuber crops like yam, sweet potato, cocoyam and cassava when cooked.
Drinks: Snails take water, soft drinks & beverages, fruit juice and wine.
Agricultural by-products: agricultural by products like wheat bran, rice bran, corn, soybean, residue bran, palm kernel cake, peel of plantain and banana, fresh maize chaff etc can also be eaten by snails.
Cereals: dried and processed maize, groundnut cake, soybean meal, and sorghum.
Supplements: feed supplements like fishmeal and blood meal are also good for snails.
Concentrates: this include poultry waste and feed, fish feed.
Minerals: limestone, wood ash, fish meal, bone meal and chalk. Snails also need a lot of calcium in-take for growth and shell formation. Calcium or mineral supplement can also be derived from ground eggshell, oyster shell, bone meal or even soil.
WHY YOU SHOULD FEED YOUR SNAILS PROPERLY
The essence of feeding the snails is to aid reproduction capacity and increase their size. Therefore, be consistent in feeding. They can eat up to 3 – 5 % of their body weight in 24hrs. Snails convert feed to body weight when a balanced diet containing protein, vitamin, minerals, calcium carbonate and phosphate is given to them. Agricultural chemicals in form of spray or powder should be avoided, as they are toxic to snails. Feed snails as much as they can eat, ensure useable water quantity daily.
If active snails are starved of food, they will shade 2 - 5% of their body weight in 24 hrs. Snails are basically fed twice in a day i.e in the evenings between 5pm - 7pm and early in the morning, between 7am-9am. Snails are nocturnal animals i.e they are more active at night. The feed items should be distributed evenly within the snailery to enhance equal feeding opportunity for all the snails. Avoid salt and salty foods since snails do not survive high salt intake.
FACTORS THAT INCREASE FEED CONSUMPTION IN SNAILS
The taste of the feed,
Freshness and damp nature of feed,
Succulent nature of feed,
Less fibrous nature of feed,
Good environmental conditions such as high relative humidity, moderate temperature and good ventilation.
LIST OF ITEMS THAT YOU WILL NEED IN YOUR SNAIL FARM
Ruler/ vernier caliper
Always remember that the performance of your snails depends solely on the type of feeds they are fed with. So feed your snails well for better performance and increased returns.
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