PRACTICAL HELICULTURE: SMALL AND MEDIUM SCALE FARMING BUSINESS
A scientific process of domesticating snails picked from the forest; thereby making their new home become familiar with their original home or raising land snails specifically for human consumption. The best known and most often cultivated land snail in Nigeria is the Giant African Land snails (GALS).
Other type of land snails are:
- Achatina achatina (Giant Ghana tiger)
- Achatina Marginata (Margies)
Health Benefits of Snails
- Snails are a great source of the valuable lectin, possesses anti-cancer properties and helps in boosting the immune system and fighting against cancerous cells.
- The snail slime is extremely rich in allantonin, collagen and elastin, which is beneficial for the treatment of skin diseases and broken bones. The secretions also have a copper peptide, which is regarded as the only source of a substance manufactured for creating creams that are useful in minimizing scars and wounds.
- Serum secreted by these snails is an excellent source of oligosaccharides that act as a hydrator for the skin. When applied directly on the skin, this serum works wonders.
- The venom extracted from the ocean snail is highly beneficial for people suffering from suffering from addictions, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
- In addition, toxins excreted by snails are valuable in stimulating dopamine, found lacking in people with neurological diseases.
The market is large considering the high demand for a meat low in cholesterol with high concentration of protein; calcium and other vital nutrients.
Don’t fetch or buy baby snails for rearing; buy the grown ones so that after they have been domesticated in their Pen; they can be sure to mate and reproduce.
You can start Heliculture business in small; medium or large scale; the choice is dependent on your plan and available start-up capital
A successful snail culture requires:
- Functioning equipment
- Good snail pen
- Hygrometer : for measuring the humidity of the atmosphere
- Thermometer: for measuring temperature.
- Accurate soil moisture content:
- Good humus soil
- Weighing scale
- Vernier caliper: The Vernier Caliper is a precision instrument that can be used to measure internal and external distances or diameter of an object accurately.
- Water sprinkler or watering can
- Good breed of snail
Requirement for a good snail farming
- Temperature: The temperature requirement for optimum snail production ranges from 45-75°F. At temperature less than 45°F snails hibernate, when temperature is greater than 64°F snail becomes inactive. When greater than 75°F, all growth stops and at 80°F snail aestivate.
- Humidity: Humidity requirement must be 75-95%. Humidity over 80% will promote snail activity, especially at night and ensure good growth. Humidity in a snail farm must not exceed 95%.
- Wind movement: Wind movement is normal for good snail rearing, because high wind movement speeds up moisture loss and could result in high mortality (death) in the snail farm.
- Snail enclosure: Snail enclosure must be damp not wet, the use of waterlogged area is discouraged and rain water must be allowed to run off immediately.
- Moisture content: moisture content of 80% is favourable at night.
Ninety nine percent of snail activity, including feeding, occurs in the cool, dark night time, with peak activity taking place 2 to 3 hours after darkness, night time dew helps the snail to move easily and snails prefer to hide in shaded area during the day
- Good medium soil that does not have too much sand or too much clay is better for snail rearing.
- Snail cannot dig into hard, dry clay soil with too much sand or too little water.
- Contain 20-40% organic matter.
- Soil must allow green leafy vegetables to thrive.
- Soil must be free of weed.
- Not be acidic, if acidic it must be neutralized with lime (add lime) to make it suitable.
- Must be neutral with pH of 7.
- Soil must be rich in calcium.
- Soil must not have inorganic fertilizer (e.g. NPK, urea) in it.
- Soil must be free of herbicides and pesticides.
Snail farm soil must be treated with POLYACRILAMIDE at the rate of about 160g per ha or 250ce of water per kg of dry soil for soil stability and prevention of leaching. Also these treatments ensure uniformity of soil and maintenance of soil crumbs which is highly beneficial to snail egg laying process. Soil that are rich in exchangeable calcium and magnesium stimulate snail growth, while lack of access to good soil may cause fragile shells for the snail even when adequately fed.
Snail houses, pen and enclosure are usually long and thin instead of square except with when constructed with garden. It may be rough with sides made of wood, block fibre, cement sheets or galvanized sheet.
Snail house could be
- An open pen
- A pen with a garden
- Plastic tunnels
- Indoor pens
- Wooden boxes and cages
- Must be fenced with galvanized metal or hard-plastic sheets or bricks.
- The top of the fences must be curved inward in a half circle to contain the snail.
- Electric fence with a battery or transformer to supply 4 to 12 volts to the wire to give the snail a mild shock when making an attempt to escape outside the pen.
- The pen must be constructed in a tilted form inward form top into a V shaped with about 20° angle.
- A piece of screen must be attached to the top of the enclosure also to prevent snail from moving out.
- The top of the fence can also be covered with 3 inches wide copper band.
- The base of the fence must be buried deep enough to the soil.
- Fences or walls of and enclosure can be up to 6ft high, plus at least 5 inches deep into the ground.
- Hiding places must provide for the snails especially for use during the day in an open pen.
Pen with garden
- This is a square pen with a 10ft square garden embedded in it.
- In this type of system, the snails are allowed to choose what they want to eat. It’s a form of semi-intensive system of rearing snail.
- About six crops including vegetables can be planted in the garden inside the square pen.
- Sprinkler can be used to wet snail and garden crops especially in the evening around 6pm.
- The only disadvantage of this system of housing is that it is difficult to replant the plants that are eaten up by snails as the process could damage the snail egg buried in the soil.
- This type of housing is easy to make, cheaper, and are good enclosure for snail. The only disadvantage of the type of housing is that it is difficult to regulate heat and humidity in the tunnels.
- Also the tunnels are usually 10-20% warmer than the outside and the snails become dormant the moment the temperature rise above 80°F
- Indoor pens snail houses are manage under controlled environment where the temperature and humidity are regulated regularly because excessive humidity and temperature can kill the snails.
- It’s always better to keep snail of the same variety in an enclosure of controlled environment because optimum temperature and relative humidity depends on snail variety.
- Under controlled environment the following must be obeyed:
- The soil must not be kept wet when the humidity is greater than 90% because the eggs will absorb water, swell up and burst.
- Fluorescent bulb must be used to provide artificial light during the night, snail of the same species must be kept together.
- 18hours of day light must be provided during breeding season.
Breeding boxes and cages
- This could be made of wood, plastic, used tyres, or blocks.
- For a wooden box, it must be covered with a mosquito net and must be easy to open
- Loose uncompact garden soil that has been treated through baking must be used to fill the base of the soil.
- The wooden boxes, plastic or tyres where snail are kept must be covered with dry leaves (banana or plantain leaves are recommended)
- A section must be demarcated for feeding the snail and a water trough must be provided.
- Water must be sprinkled on snail kept inside the wooden box early in the morning and at night.
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