You are viewing this page because you are interested in learning how to start a snail farm or farming business. Congrats! Snail farming (Heliculture) is a very profitable agribusiness in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Cameroun and Kenya. However, the business seems to have been the most neglected among all the livestock businesses. Snail farming is a currently a profitable agribusiness with a high ROI; that is, you can make your profits within a short period. So if you dream of making it big in the agricultural sector, then consider snailery or heliculture.
Ignorance has been a factor that has contributed to the neglect of snail farming business. Did 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 such as USA, UK and Australia.
Some people believe snails cannot be domesticated. They still think snails are only picked in the bush. If you are among this set of people, I want you to remove that notion and accept that snails can be reared just like the way chickens, goats, sheep, cattle, rabbits, grasscutter and honeybees are raised at home.
After you must have read this article, you should be fully interested in snail farming. I have tried my best to make it easy. If you need my comprehensive and affordable Practical Ebook Guide on Snail farming or Heliculture, I have included how you will get the Ebook (pdf format) at the end of this article.
You could make as low as ₦3,000,000 from raising snails if you followed every management instruction right from housing to feeding. All you need to know and do are included in the ebook. But before you get the ebook, I have written this brief information that people who want to start a snail farming business must know. If you want to learn how to start a snail farming business, then patiently read the article below.
What is Heliculture (Snail farming)?
Snail farming also known as Heliculture is simply the process of keeping edible snails primarily for the human consumption or for other purposes such as slime production.
Snail meat has been consumed by humans worldwide since prehistoric times. It is high in protein (12-16%) and iron (45-50 mg/kg), low in fat, and contains almost all the amino acids needed by humans. A recent study has also shown that the glandular substances in edible snail meat cause agglutination of certain bacteria, which could be of value in fighting a variety of ailments, including whooping cough.
Edible snails also play an important role in folk medicine. The bluish liquid obtained from the shell when the meat has been removed is believed to be good for infant development. The high iron content of the meat is considered important in treating anaemia. In the past, it was recommended for combating ulcers and asthma. Snail meat was also thought to contain aphrodisiac properties and was often served to visiting dignitaries in the late evening.
International trade in snails is flourishing in Europe and North America. However, in spite of the considerable foreign and local demand, commercial snail farms such as those in Europe, South-East Asia and the Americas hardly exist in Africa. In Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, where snail meat is particularly popular, snails are gathered from the forest during the wet season. In recent years, however, wild snail populations have declined considerably, primarily because of the impact of such human activities as deforestation, pesticide use, slashand-burn agriculture, spontaneous bush fires, and the collection of immature snails. It is therefore important to encourage snail farming (heliculture) in order to conserve this important resource. This is one of the reasons for investing in this venture.
Advantages of snail farming (heliculture)
- Snails are environment-friendly, because, unlike poultry or pigs, neither the snail nor its droppings smell offensively. Snails can also be reared in the backyard.
- Capital, technical, labour and financial inputs in simple snail farming are relatively low compared to those in other types of livestock farming (poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle).
- Snail meat: Snail meat is a good source of protein. It is rich in iron and calcium, but low in fat and cholesterol compared to other protein sources like poultry and pigs.
Disadvantages of snail farming (heliculture)
- Without expensive artificial means of climate control, snail farming is restricted to the humid tropical forest zone, which offers a constant temperature, high relative humidity, preferably no dry season, and a fairly constant day/night rhythm throughout the year.
- Snail meat is considered a delicacy by some, whereas others will not even touch it for religious or cultural reasons.
- Snails are relatively slow-growing animals. Furthermore, the consumable meat makes up only 40% (maximum) of the snail’s total live weight. Consequently snail farming is not a way to make money quickly.
- Snails that have escaped from a farm, or been dumped by a farmer, may quickly develop into a serious pest in agriculture and horticulture. For these reasons it must be emphasized that snail farming should be seen as only one component in a diversified farming venture. However, with patience, good management and careful integration into existing farming activities, snail farming can provide substantial longer-term rewards.
Snail farming is one of the best ventures that has the potential of generating good money. I recommend it for you to start with.
How to Plan, Start or Establish A Snail Farm
There are some things that must be considered before going into heliculture. The five steps highlighted below must be followed.
- Step 1: Plan your market, production and organization
- Step 2: Pilot production and sales, leading to:
- Step 3: Go or no go decision
- Step 4: Investment in facilities and know-how.
- Step 5: Upscaling logistical control, quality control and financial control
Step 1: Plan
Marketing Plan: Why do you want to farm snails?
- Own consumption
- Selling live snails to local market(s), local restaurants
- Selling preserved (frozen, canned) snail meat on distant markets
Production Plan: Type of farming
Part life cycle farming: young snails collected from the wild, bought from other breeders or agricultural institutes, then raised on the farm to table size.
Complete life cycle farming: snails born and bred on the farm. Complete life cycle farming is recommended, to prevent diseases from being introduced into your farm by snails from outside.
Production Plan: Farm size
The size of your pilot snail farm will depend on your marketing plan. Nigerian experiments show optimal stocking density for the giant African snails to be 100 snails/ m2 for juveniles of 0.5-49 g, and 30/m2 for pre-adults of 50-100g. Optimum density for breeding (egg-laying) snails is much lower: 6-7/m2.
Snail weight= Live snail + shell)
Production Plan: Species
This manual concentrates on GALS (Giant African Land Snails): Achatina achatina (Coastal West Africa), Achachatina marginata (Central African rainforest zone), and Achatina fulica (originally from East Africa, now widely dispersed throughout the world). Using the local species for farming is obviously preferable. Achatina achatina is considered the tastiest species for consumption, followed by Achatina marginata, and Achatina fulica, in order of preference.
- Family operation
- Commercial venture, financially and organizationally separated from your farm.
Step 2: Pilot production
During the pilot production phase you should keep detailed records on which to base your go or no go decision to continue snail farming or stop.
- Records of inputs: labour (your own or household members, hired labour), money, materials, feed and so on
- Records of growth performance of your snails.
Step 3: Go or no go decision
Only after carefully balancing production costs (per marketable snail, or per kg live snail, or dressed snail meat) and sales revenue will you be able to start a snail growing venture safely.
Step 4: Investment in facilities and know-how
- Location, type and size of cages or pens, depending on the scale of snail farming planned.
- Finance, corresponding to the scale of the snail farming operation
- Private or family capital, micro-credit or commercial credit.
Acquiring or improving your knowledge of snail farming through exchange of information, reading, attending courses, etc.
Step 5: Upscaling
- Logistical control: careful recording and control of inputs (labour, materials, feed and medicines).
- Quality control: growing and delivering healthy products (snails in this case).
- Financial control: careful recording and control of inputs, output, and profits.
With this short but insightful write-up, you should have a glimpse of what family or commercial snail farming venture entails. To be successful in the venture, you need to plan—it is very important. Without planning, you MAY fail and that may even discourage other people interested in the venture.
If you need the FREE ebook (PDF) on Snail Farming, click here.