Feasibility Study on Snail Farming in Nigeria
If you are thinking about venturing into a business in animal husbandry, Heliciculture (snail farming) should be one of the first to cross your mind. Not only is this business lucrative, it also allows for low capital and low running costs compared to other forms of animal farming.
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Also Read: How to Start a Snail Farm in Nigeria
One of the reasons for its profitability is that the species of snails mostly reared in Nigeria reproduce a large number of young. One snail can reproduce between three hundred to about one thousand two hundred eggs in a year depending on the conditions. Imagine starting up with 100 snails or more, its almost unbelievable the quantity of snails you’ll have! Couple this with low running costs and the readily available market; you can make millions within a short time!
Snail farming is a very profitable business that can be carried out with little or no technical know-how. Although, some knowledge about about things like food and environmental conditions suitable for rearing will be invaluable.
Here are some tips to help you start snail farming.
Who can be involved in the business?
Anyone can be involved in this business. Like I said earlier, you need little or no training to commence this business. If you feel you need some training, there are so many opportunities for you, just look online or visit the nearest snail farm.
What you do need is some capital to commence the business. The amount depends on how big you want to start.
The business can be located anywhere. Some people purchase a piece of land; others choose to use their backyard, while some others rent small spaces for the business. It really depends on you. However, if you choose to go large scale, it is imperative to have a large enough space to accommodate the snails. It is also important that your location is safe from predators of snails such as snakes, rats and even ants. You should also ensure that the location is secured so that your snails do not escape.
The design of the snailery (snail pen) depends on your preference (although, there are certain things you should watch out for). You could just use an open space with trees that can serve as shade and plants that can serve as food. You can also choose to make cages where you can put the snails or a small box that can fit in your backyard. There are many options available. When housing your snails, ensure that they are not overcrowded as overcrowding can significantly reduce fertility.
You should note that snails get dehydrated easily and this causes them to hibernate, which they can do for months. So, you should ensure that the climate in your snailery is not too hot and it has a high humidity. Another thing you should also control is wind. Wind also causes dehydration; so try to design your snailery in a way that doesn’t allow for wind penetration.
There are many species of snails in the world; some edible while some are not. The three species mainly used in farming business in Nigeria are Achatina margatina, Achatina achatina and Achatina fulica . The most common one is Achatina margatina (Giant African snail). It is advisable to get one from the bush rather than buy from the market. This is because the ones from the bush are more likely to survive, grow and reproduce better than the ones gotten from the market. If you are unable to get one, you can buy breeders from other snail farms or get snail eggs from the market.
Feed for the snails.
One of the reasons why the running cost in snail rearing is low is because snails accept a variety of feed. Snails can eat anything from lettuce, pawpaw leaves to fruits, even left over food (so long as the sodium chloride content is low). Therefore, you have a lot of options. Snails also need a lot of water to stay hydrated. So, ensure that water is readily available for them. In addition, calcium is very important for shell formation. Thus, you could include special feed that have high calcium content to aid proper shell formation.
This is an important aspect of snail farming. Snails enjoy their time on the soil and they also lay their eggs within the soil. It is therefore important that the soil is conducive for their growth. The recommended soil type is a sandy-loamy soil. This soil type ensures that the snails do not become dehydrated and thus, maintain their fertility. Also, it is important that the soil is neutral and not acidic. The soil can serve as a source of calcium for the snails if some limestone is added.
You should regularly check that your soil is in its right conditions (neutral and-not water logged) and change in when necessary.
Reproduction and Harvesting
This is the most interesting part of the business. It is always a delight to see how your farm grows from only a few snails to hundreds and even thousands. Reproduction normally takes place during the rainy season between April and October. The Achatina specie of snails reproduces between 100-400 eggs depending on how conducive the environment is. The eggs will normally hatch within two to six weeks and from then on, it takes about one and a half to two years for the young snails to become mature snails. You can tell that your snails have reached maturity if the brim of the shells is thicker than the other parts. You should only harvest your snails when they are mature. You can harvest the snails yourself, package them and freeze them or sell live snails.
You can sell your snails to other farmers while they are still young so you don’t have to wait until maturity before you start making profit.
The market is large so you have so many options when it comes to marketing. You can sell to snail traders, to restaurants, to hotels or you can even export your snails. You can also sell snail shells, snail slime and snail eggs for extra profit.
Snail farming is a very promising business, with little risks attached to it. However, you have to ensure that your snails are properly managed in a safe, clean and conducive environment so that you can reap the benefits of your business.
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