Snail farming business also referred to as snail rearing is a very lucrative business to venture into when properly managed and maintained especially for snail farmers venturing into commercial snail farming system.
One good thing about snail farming business is that it is very easy to understand meaning that snail farming for beginners is not really very hard to understand. It is also not too much time demanding and requires no huge capital to get started making it a very good business to start your farming business with.
Today we are going to be discussing about how to build a snail house. There are some basic factors that needs to be considered when constructing / building your snail house (snail pen) which include the following:
- The scale of the snail farming enterprise you want to establish.
- The type of snail farming you choose to operate i.e. In-door or Out-door;
- The stage of development as well as habits of the snails.
In today’s article, we are going to be discussing about the construction of out-door snail house or snail housing also known as a snail pen.
First, let us start with the following:
Preparation of site for 5m x 5m out-door snail pen (Snail House)
The basic factors to be considered when constructing your snail house include the following:
Choosing a suitable site close to the house: The snail farmer should ensure to clear the area of all plant materials like bushes, grasses, roots and weeds. The cleared materials should be evenly spread on the ground where the pen would be located.
The farmer should burn the materials when they dry as burning of the area will clear it of insects, weed, seeds, rats and other pests. From the cleared area, a square of 5m x 5m is marked out for the snail farm. The ground in the square is dug to a few centimeters dept (20cm) and turned over with a shovel, hoe or other suitable implements. In the case that any more insects and other enemies of snails are seen, more dried plant materials are spread on the ground and burnt again.
The ground is then smoothened after digging. The ground should be smooth and well worked as it would be when planting a vegetable garden.
The Recommended Ideal Size of a Snail Pen
A snail pen can be extra-large, large or small depending on how many snails the farmer wants to raise. For a new farmer, it is advisable to start with a small pen. He or she would need fewer materials and fewer snails for this so that as he becomes more experienced in snail farming, he can build a bigger pen and get more snails to raise. Therefore, I will recommend that a 5m x 5m out-door pen is a suitable size to start with as a beginner.
Some of these materials includes things like: wire mesh, corrugated iron sheets, plastic sheet etc. though durable, are expensive and non affordable by most farmers living in villages. However, woven plant materials fence cover is cheap and available in most rural areas. Such fences could be made from Gamba grass or other tall grass species.
The fence is built just like any other fence. A number of wooden posts of reasonable length are driven into the ground along the perimeter of the (5m x 5m) farm, such that when in place, each post is at least one meter above ground. When all the posts are in place, dig a shallow trench (about 0.4m deep) all the way round the pen.
Attach the woven plant material (fence cover) to the post and ensure that the plant material fence cover goes all the way to the bottom of the trench. Whatever material that is used for the fence of the snail pen should be buried to a reasonable depth below ground. When woven plant is used, the bottom of the material tends to rot after some time and needs regular replacement.
As soon as the plant material fence cover is in place fill in the trench to complete the fence. If a combination of chicken wire mesh and woven plant material is to be used, followed by the woven plant material. The farmer should remember to change the bottom of the fence cover when it rots.
To facilitate easy replacement of rotten material in future, the fence cover could be made in two parts, one for the top and another for the bottom of the fence. To prevent snails from crawling out of the pen, flips could be attached to the top of the pen. In some pen designs the fence covering is made of mosquito’s wire netting.
Whatever materials that is used for the pen should ensure that rats and other predators are kept out.
At one corner of the snail pen, put a hatching chamber for hatching snail’s eggs and a rearing unit for young snails
The hatching unit and rearing unit could be wooden boxes covered with wire mesh or out drums or even baskets. The floor of the hatchery or rearing unit is filled with rich organic/top soil to a depth of 4-7cms. Perforate the bottom of such chambers to drain out excess water. Do not introduce newly hatched young snails into snail’s pens to avoid cannibalism.
Other types of out-door snailery include the following: According to a lot of resources gathered, some other out-door snailery housing types include:
(a) Hutch Box Method:
The hutch boxes which could be single or multi-chambered are wooden boxes with lids. The lids are openings covered with wire netting or nylon mesh. The floors of the boxes are filled with sieved organic soil to a depth of 5 – 8 cm, which must be slightly limed (Caco).
The bottom of the hutch 3boxes have holes to allow excess water to drain out. The hutch boxes are put under trees like rubber, cocoa, citrus and even plantain for shade. When hutch boxes are used, the soil is changed once every two to three months.
In the trench type, pens, square or rectangular holes (depending on the desired shape of pen) are dug in the ground about 50cm deep. The dug-up area is divided into pens and the sides are built up to 2–3 blocks high from the ground level while the bottom is covered with loose soil. The pens are covered with nylon mesh nailed to wooden frames for lids. The trench pens which more or less look like the hutch pens could be used for hatching snail eggs, rearing and for finishing.
(c) Make-shift Snail Houses:
Snail keeping as a hobby or on a very small scale could be done using the following make-shift outfits: (i) Stack of old motor tyres (ii) Baskets and (iii) Boxes
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