As in any livestock farming operation, good management practices are the key to success.
Most research on farming GALS has been carried out in West Africa.
Seasonal activities, as described below, follow the march of the seasons of West Africa, with breeding and egg laying in March through July. Note that domesticated snails may continue laying during the dry season as well (Omole, et al. 2007).
Snail breeders in other parts of the (sub)humid tropics should adapt the management cycle to local conditions.
In semi-intensive or intensive snail farming, farmers keep and care for hatchlings, growers and breeding snails in separate hutch boxes or pens.
Caring for Snail Hatchlings
Hatchlings require more humid conditions than adult snails. They should be fed tender leaves, such as paw paw and/or cocoyam, and a calcium supplement for good shell development. The soil in their pens should be kept moist and enough water should be provided. The pens should be fitted with small gauze wire mesh or nylon mesh; otherwise the small snails will escape. Hatchlings and juveniles may be kept at a density of around 100/m2
Caring for Snail Growers
Growers should be transferred to separate pens at around 3 months of age, at a stocking density of 30-40 snails/m2
For fast growth, they might be given compound feed, rich in crude protein, calcium and phosphorus, besides their normal diet.
Breeders start to lay eggs at sexual maturity, at the age of 10 to 12 months. They should be transferred to boxes or pens at a density of 10-15 snails/m2
Note that stocking densities mentioned are indications. The general stocking density guideline of 1-1.5 kg snail/m2 should always be kept in mind!) soil should be loosened to facilitate egg laying.
The breeders’ ration must be rich in crude protein and calcium. Any eggs found on the surface must be buried promptly to a depth of 1 to 2 cm. Before hatching, the soil on top of the clutches might be loosened or removed to facilitate uniform emergence. To avoid cannibalism, the breeders must be removed to their growing pens soon after the hatchlings emerge.
Adults no longer required for breeding are kept in fattening pens until ready for sale or consumption.
Daily management involves several activities which include the following:
Snails should be fed after sunset. The feed must not be stale or moldy. Leftovers should be removed the following morning. Water should be replenished.
Check whether wire mesh and mosquito netting are intact; repair where necessary. Clean the pens. Keep doors or covers of the snail pens closed and locked.
Keep the soil moist by mulching and watering if necessary, in the dry season. Never add fresh poultry droppings to the soil. Change soil in the cages every three months.
Check pens for any dead snails; remove them immediately. Do not use insecticides or herbicides in your snailery. Handle your snails care-fully and wash them with water from time to time.
Record inputs and output of your snail farm daily. Include your own labor or that of family members, and inputs, like food or repairs to the pens.