Snail farming also known as heliculture is another interesting, thriving and profitable agribusiness anyone can venture into.
Ignorance has been a factor that has contributed to the neglect of heliculture in Nigeria. Do you know that snails are now being sold in many stores and supermarket? A lot of people are now buying and consuming snails in most of the developed countries.
So much is yet to be tapped from commercial snail farming. The market is large considering the high demand for a meat low in cholesterol with high concentration of protein; calcium and other vital nutrients.
Benefits of Heliculture in Nigeria
• Heliculture is one of the easiest animal rearing businesses one can engage in. The business is not saturated yet.
• Snails are also a good source of protein. Snails are very popular among weight watchers because they are extremely low in calories and fat. Snail meat is also very beneficial to people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and cancer
• Low capital intensive: you don’t need to have huge capital to start a snail farm
• Good source of protein and other source of minerals: Snails are good sources of essential minerals including phosphorus, calcium and iron, and sodium. They are also rich in protein and low in unhealthy fat.
• Environmental friendly: Snail farming in Nigeria causes less pollution compared to poultry farming. The smell and noise from poultry farms are more than enough to put people off. This does not apply to the snail farming business.
• Secondary occupation: Snail farming isn’t as stressful and time-consuming as other forms of farming. You can keep your day job while conveniently running your farm.
• Low mortality
• Snail farming requires less space compare to other livestock animals: Snail requires only a small area of land to start with. You can start snail farming from your compound as it is easy to combine with other normal schedule of activities and can easily be managed even by women and children.
• The feeds are readily available and you can even produce it yourself
• Their feeding materials are cheap and locally available.
The Snail House (Snailery)
Snaileries can vary from a patch of fence-protected ground, sheltered from the wind to a covered box if you are breeding in small scale.
For larger population of snails, you can dig a trench or make a concrete pen with soil deep of about 10 inches, and cover it with screen or wire all around to prevent the snails from escaping. Remember that snails can reproduce fast and become pests when their breeding is uncontrolled.
Snails love dark and cold places, but make sure the humidity does not drop to levels harmful to the snails. You can use fresh banana leaves and dry cocoa leaves that is regularly wet to regulate the temperature.
IMPROVISED MATERIAL FOR SNAIL HOUSING
• Tiers of tyre.
• Used drum
• Used tank.
• Low fenced pen.
• High fenced pen.
The following types of pens might be considered for simple snaileries:
• Hutch box.
• Concrete pens.
• Free-range pens.
• Car tires, oil drums.
Care & Management of Snails
Good care and management can ensure maximum profit from your heliculture business. So always try to take good care of your snails. Always try to purchase quality and productive breeds, feed them nutritious feeds. Snail farming is easy and the management practices are very simple. Basic hygiene prevents the spread of diseases. Pens should be cleaned out regularly to remove left over feed.