Wednesday, 22 May 2013

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY TIPS (SNAILS)


This is document is courtesy of Youth Agro Entrepreneur (YAE).

Snail farming is a very lucrative venture that has gained popularity and renewed interests in recent times amongst part time and young farmers who are in need of an alternate , means of income . Amongst the various forms of animal husbandry, it is considered to be relatively easier, less labour intensive and with minimal time consumption. The ability to set up and operate a snail hatchery as a secondary activity is one of the key reasons for its renewed popularity and interest.

In this document, you would be guided through some of the basics of snail farming ( tips, starter points and salient issues every snail farmer should know)

This is not a complete operational procedure, more information can be obtained via search engines ( google, bing etc ) online and directly by engaging consultants.

Brief Overview

Snails are invertebrates, which means they lack a backbone. They belong to a large and highly diverse group of invertebrates known as the Phylum Mollusca (also known more commonly as 'mollusks'). The Phylum Mollusca includes slugs, clams, oysters, mussels, squids, octopuses, and nautiluses, in addition to snails.

Though "Snails" is a term loosely used to describe shelled members of the mollusc phylum, agriculturally we are interested in three main species

  1. Achachatina spp 
  2. Achatina-achatina spp 
  3. Achatina Fullica spp 
Achachatina Spp:
These are the biggest in size and therefore the most preferred for consumption and commercial snail farming. They are less reproductive and need 6 months to start laying eggs. ( note all Snail species are hemaphrodites). They typically lay between 80-100 eggs per year and take 24 days to hatch. Adult sized achachatina can grow to approximately 350- 500 grams.

Achatina-achatina spp:
They are not as big as achaachatina in size but are generally more productive. They lay between 200-400 eggs per year and incubate in 20-22 days. They are sexually active from the 6th month and adults weigh up to 250kg.

Achatina Fullica spp:
These are the most productive specie, but are relatively smaller than the otber two species. They also take 6 months to reach sexually active stage and produce 400 -600 egg, which can be incubated in 15 days. They can grow to 80g in body mass and are mainly used for feeding fish, etc.

FEEDING

Snails are omnivorous. They eat mainly leaves, vegetables and rotten fruits in the wild. For effecient snail rearing, the farmer needs to incorporate natural feeds and compounded feeds to ensure that the snails gain all the required nutrional needs for their different stages of growth. Compunded feeds are available from the markets and large scale snail hatcheries around your chosen area. For farmers who can afford it and can readily find all the needed raw materias, a consultant can be employed to formulate suitable feeds for your snails.

When feeding them please AVOID BITTER tasting vegetables, as this would ruin the taste of your snails and reduce its marketability.

Approximately 30 grammes of food per day is consumed by each snail. Feeding should be done late in the evening (from 5 pm) or at night ( this makes it ideal as a secondary activity). The hatchery needs to be watered and left damp BEFORE feeding. This is required to draw out the snails to consume their feed immediately. Left-over food should be removed from the hatchery to avoid ants and insects invading your hatchery.

SOIL TEST, PREMISES SET-UP & SECURITY

There are a variety of innovative and improvised premises/hatchery used for the rearing of snails to micmic the habitat they are found, in the wild. The decision of what type to use is usually decided by the funds available to the young farmer and also the size of supplies he or she aims to meet. There are a few basic guiding rules. Snails survive best in DAMP, HUMID environments not water logged lands! A common mistake made is to flood the land for rearing snails.

Avoid clay soil, stony land and water logged areas.

Build a shelter for your snails- a roof (thatch, zinc ) mud house or just a plant canopy (Banana trees, Palm Trees are popular choices)

If you must build a house, avoid direct sunlight and cement floors. !

LAND PREPARATION

Mulch soil with banana leaves, and fertilize soil with animal droppings and compost.

Till the soil under the canopy with the compost at 30cm height then irrigate for two weeks.

Till soil again with dry compost matter, preferably avoid animal droppings, as they would generate heat during their decomposition, which is not good for your snails

Create pens on the tilled soil, by using actual barriers like raffia baskets, waterbeds etc. 25 breeders per square metre is the usual size of a snail pen.

Leave for another week, then organize a soil test with a company, consultant or a chemist, confirm the pH leveles of your soil and if possible a heavy metal ion analysis test.

Check for earthworms, bugs, and other form of life and activity. If you are happy with the fertilitynof the soil and your test results

Take down the dates and the results and store away,

Introduce your breeders to their pens.

SECURITY

Building barriers to control the movement of the snails around the premises is not a must. Snails tend to stay around the areas they feed and rest. But the bigger threat are the predators.

Human threat- snail stealing is quite common place so you woukd need a security personel if you are not resident on site.

Rodents, snakes and ants are the biggest threatsyo your snails survival. Particularly the ants.

Clean left over food immediately and set ablaze any ant hills or holes you find. Waste oil from the mechanics also suffice in stopping ant colonies,

Poisoned foods for the rodents at the barriers of the pen

A newer idea, is the use of waterbeds to protect the perimeter of the snail pens.

Do not use insecticides or other organic aerosols near or over the snail hatchery