Although Snails feed very well on fruits and vegetables, I will like to use this medium to share with you all that snail feed is not only limited to natural feed alone.
Snails can also feed on formulated feeds which contains 80% of the nutritional requirements for snails and also help to boost overall growth and well-being of snails as it relates to commercial snail farming.
Meanwhile, before asking questions like what do snails eat?, you need to first understand that snails are nocturnal animals and therefore most of their activities take place during the night hours or dark morning hours. The food for snails also varies from one specie to another because of their nature and behaviour.
Different Classes of Snail Feed Based on their Nutritional Requirements
Now, let us discuss in details the Different Classes of Snail Feed Based on their Nutritional Requirements below:
Just as humans need energy, Snails also have energy needs. Carbohydrates are mostly known as energy giving foods to Man. Snails also need a proportion of energy given feed in their ration.
This helps to provide the snails’ energy for growth and other activities. We understand that snails love roaming about even when they are confined, they still want to move.
The major sources of energy supply for snails are from tubers which includes: Cocoyam, Sweet potatoes, Yam, Cassava tuber Etc. These tubers can be dried and in turn grounded for the snails as ration. Also peels from these tubers can also suffice. Other Sources of energy includes: grounded maize, Sorghum and Millet which all make for the energy needs of snails.
However, we must note that most of these classes of feed has measurement proportion requirements for each Size of snails viz Hatchling’s, Growers and Adult Snail’s.
Energy is measured in KCalMe/Kg. Hatchling’s will need 2200, Growers need between 2200 to 2400 KCalMe/Kg and Adult Snail’s need also between 2200 to 2400 KCalMe/Kg of energy in their feed.
2. Protein Rich Feed
Protein is also needed by snails. Protein are obtained from both animal and plant sources in relation to Snails. It is required for growth, maintenance of snails’ body parts and also egg production. The major sources are: Soya Beans residue, fish meal, meat meal, groundnut cake, pawpaw leaves, Soya bean meal, and palm kernel cake. Please note salt must be avoided in either of these sources.
Protein need for different sizes per required measurement also varies per snails. Protein is however measured in percentage. Hatchlings need 26% of protein. Growers need 24% of protein and Adult Snail’s need between 24 to 26% of protein in their feed.
This is where calcium need comes in. Snails need regular supply of calcium & phosphorus. It is needed proper shell formation, good health and maximum production. Minerals in the tissue aid Digestion, absorption & transformation of feed to release energy.
Also, special formulated feed is an encompassing source of calcium and other nutritional requirements for Snail’s. A major deficiency effect of lack of calcium in snails can lead to malformation of shell thereby turning whitish.
Vitamins are also essential to snails and must consist as part of snails feed. Vitamins also help for the maintenance of health & growth of snails and without them snails will not be able to utilize their feed intake. Hence, watermelon is most recommended as vitamins in support of the special formulated feed.
Other major sources of vitamins for snails are green plants and fruits which includes: pawpaw, watermelon, garden egg, tomatoes, mango etc. There is no measure however for the vitamins intake.
But avoid acidic leaves or pesticides ridden leaves.
5. Fat and Oils
They are also good sources of energy for snails just like carbohydrate. Sources include: palm kernel meal and Palm fruits.
Water is an essential part of every living thing humans and snails inclusive. Most of the water needs of snails ought to be supplied from the soil where they are been breeded. If the soil is not moist enough snails won’t be able to absorb water from the soil. So is very necessary to always keep your snail pen or farm soil moist by constant wetting or sprinkling water on the soil.
Snails will need to drink water also. Flat trays can also be set aside for them to drink water from but it must be very shallow to avoid drowning of snails.
Sources of water should be untreated water either from, rivers or stream, dug well, rain water, tap water that is untreated with chemicals. I will recommend you buy Calcium carbonate to mix with your soil as a supplementary source of calcium which the Snails can derive from the soil.
Snail Feed Formulations
Recommendations on formulated feed
As land pressures force people to move from extensive farming, in which natural foods are abundant, to semi-intensive farming, it may become necessary to introduce formulated feeds. Studies in Ghana in which poultry feed was used in snail farming showed that this formula has good potential in growing A. achatina.
In Archachatina marginata snail farming in Nigeria, commercially formulated feeds are sometimes used, but they are rather expensive.
You can mix a snail feed formula yourself, using the following ingredients and ratios (in kg per 100 kg mix; recipe from Nigeria)
Snail Foods and Feeding – Snails especially Achatina mainly feeds on green leaves and fruits though they can utilize other ranges of foods. Feed your snails leaves, fruits, or even formula from the feed store. Aside from food to grow tissues, snails need calcium to grow shells.
Leaves: Cocoyam leaves, pawpaw leaves, okra leaves, cassava leaves, eggplant leaves, cabbage and lettuce leaves.
Fruits: Mango, eggplant, pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, oil palm fruits, pears. and cucumber.
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