How to construct a quality snail house with little capital

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How to construct a modern snail house, challenges in snail housing and how to minimize the cost of snail house construction and make a wonderful profit. After reading this, you will be able to construct a cost-effective snail house, the price will be low but the quality will remain the same.

How can I grow snails at home?

Like stated in our previous post, the choice of house for your snail depends on a lot of factors which one is; the type or system of snail farming you are practicing, that is to say, if you are practicing extensive system of snail farming, your choice of snail housing will automatically be different from someone who is practicing intensive or semi-intensive system of snail farming.

But as stated in our previous post, we encourage farmers to go Intensive because of its numerous benefits. Before we go into the advantages of intensive system of snail farming over the extensive/semi-intensive, let’s look at the three systems, what are they like.

What are the different types of snail farming systems?

snail farming

As management activities and categories of financial power which determine farmers’ inputs differ from one farmer to another, snail housing also differs in size and capacity. Snail housing system can be classified into three categories; intensive, semi-intensive, and extensive systems.

This is a system of snail farming where the snails are kept in a house, their activities are totally controlled by the farmer, and they are closely monitored and are under total supervision by the owner.

This system of snail housing tries to recreate the natural habitat of snails. Plastic tunnel houses, greenhouses, free-range snail pens and buildings with controlled climate fall under this category. This system is usually practiced by farmers who do snail farming business for commercial purposes and occupy a large expanse of land. The best system of snail farms according to us.

In this system, egg-laying and hatching occurs in a controlled environment. The young snails are removed after 6-8 weeks to outside snail houses for further development and growth. The snail activities are controlled but to an extent, they are not under total supervision after a few weeks of birth.

Free-range snail farming is a type of snail farming structure in which snails are allowed to roam freely and feed on open pastures of living food crops, rather than being densely confined in small enclosures and fed only compound foods.

  • It requires more land than other types/systems of snail farming.
  • It is difficult to locate and protect eggs and newly born snails when using the free-range system.
  • A fully enclosed and roofed pen is relatively expensive to build.
  • In the open type of free-range pen, it is more difficult to keep out predators and poachers.
  • It may be difficult to control disease outbreaks because of the farm size.

This method or system is mostly practiced by small scale farmers and subsistence farmers (mainly for consumption). Snail farming in this system is done using relatively cheap and readily available materials like old car tires, baskets, old tanks or drums, pots, etc.

These are the three main housing systems in snail farming; now let’s look at the benefit of intensive systems over extensive and semi-intensive systems and why we encourage farmers to go intensive.

What are the benefits of Intensive Snail Farming System over Extensive/ Semi-Intensive?

The intensive system of snail farming has proven to be more beneficial to farmers than extensive and semi-intensive, here will state some of the benefits of intensive system over the extensive and semi-intensive systems of farming.

  • The intensive system of snail farming gives you the room to monitor all activities going on in the farm. You would want to know where you’re putting your money and in intensive farming, you have more chances of knowing what is happening in your farm at all times, making it easier to notice an incoming challenge even before they happen.
  • It courage record keeping which is good for your farm; you know exactly the amount you are spending, what is coming in and what is going out of the farm.
  • It helps to place snails of the same size in the same pen; one mistake you must not make is putting snails of unequal size in the same pen. Snails of the same size should be kept in the same pen. You can select from the smaller and the bigger sized ones and keep in the same place.
  • When snails of different sizes are kept in the same place, just like every other animal, there will be competition, which is unhealthy for their growth. High levels of competition for food and other materials will result in mortality on your farm.
  • The intensive system gives you better control over the management practices in the snail farm. We are not totally discarding the semi-intensive or free-range system but we are just trying to make you understand that going intensive is more advantageous.
  • Lastly, in the free-range system, you can’t boast of what you have upfront and you know snail

After the dilemma of system of snail farming, {intensive, extensive of semi-intensive), other factors which influence your snail housing choice are; the number of snails you intend to produce on your snail farm, the age of snail, location, that is the venue of the snail farm, climatic conditions, species of your snails, are all factors you must consider.

What are the features/characters of a good snail house?

A Good Snail house should possess the following

  • Enough Space: Your snail housing must have enough space for your snails to graze freely. An average snail lays 86 eggs per cycle and has an average of five reproductive cycles a year, each individual snail can lay 430 eggs a year so your snail needs space. Overcrowding your snailery impedes the development of snails and therefore should be avoided. Well-spaced snail housing reduces the risk of disease outbreak caused by overcrowding.
  • Protection: Good snail housing should be able to protect snails against predators, poachers, and insect infestation. Predators feed on young snails whereas poachers steal snails. As for insects, they lay their eggs on the snails: these eggs develop to the larvae stage, and then feed on the snails from inside their shells, thereby causing high snail mortality leading to loss of investment.
  • Accessibility: It must be easily accessible for carrying out management activities. Snail housing should be built in such a way that it will enable managers to handle snails, place feed, and carry out cleaning activities and other tasks.
  • No escape point: The snail housing must prevent snails from escaping. No matter how slow snails can be, they can still wander off through open spaces and invade your house or garden. Therefore, all possible snail escape routes should be tightly closed.
  • Ventilation: Snail housing must be well ventilated and provided with adequate shade.
  • Protection against wind and sun: Adequate snail housing must be able to protect the snails from excessive wind. Wind increases the rate of moisture loss in snail which in turn, leads to dryness for the animal. Planting (fruit) trees around snail pens will help to reduce wind speed and improve the micro-climate. It will also protect the snails from the scorching sun or torrential rain.
  • Provision of snail farming materials: A good snail house must have all the necessary equipment for snail farming.

At this stage, you are expected to have made your choice on which system to go for, let’s talk about how you can build a quality modern snail farmhouse with little capital.

Like we have said, there are different styles of snail farmhouse but for the purpose of this work we are going to discuss “the concrete cemented type of snail farmhouse” First, materials needed to construct quality cemented snail house.

What are materials needed for constructing a snail pen?

Depending on price and availability, the following materials can be used as snail housing materials; Concrete blocks or bricks, polythene sheets, galvanized sheets, Mosquito nets or nylon mesh, and chicken wire.

Termite resistant timber plays an important role in the construction of snail housing, they help to protect your farm against termites and other harmful insects.

In most native cases, tree species like opepe, iroko, and mahogany. Disposable materials like car tires, baskets, oil drums, and old water tanks are good materials for snail house but that’s not where our interest is.

How can I construct a snail house?

Here we will, with the aid of pictures explain the best way to construct your snail farmhouse for an average snail farmer. This type of snail farmhouse has proven to be more beneficial to the production of snail because of its cost-effective nature.

A snail lives an average of about five to seven years; however, those in captivity can live up to 25 years old, so you should know this is for a long term purpose and not short term. Here is how you can construct your snail farm.

Stage One: Selection and pegging out of land

At this stage you are expected to select the portion of the land that will be enough for your snail, this will depend on the other decisions and factors we have considered about such as, system of farm, number of snails and climatic conditions.

Questions like whether it for commercial purposes or not should be answered here, how large the farm will be is expected to be decided according to the purpose of the farm. With all the decisions made, Peg out the portion you have selected.

picture of pegged land portion for building a snail house

Stage Two: Foundation Stage

After pegging out, you start the foundation stage, this should be done by constructor, you can look out for other snail farmers for help on those who will do your foundation for you, this shouldn’t cost much, depending on how big your farm is, a farm targeted at containing over 10,000 snails can’t cost the same amount as one targeted at containing 3.000 snails. Just make sure you are getting the best service at a minimal amount.

snail house

Note that the depth of the foundation is depended on what you want.

Stage Three: Erecting your structure

After your foundation, the next is erecting your structure with a cemented block. This is a very crucial stage; the picture below describes how high your structure should be.

snail house

After erecting your structure to the required height, with each pen set for different purposes, you segment your farm, this segmentation should be done according to the size of your snail, the smallest will be taking one segment, the medium-sized in another, while the mature snails take the reaming part, they can also be segmented into four or five depending on the available space.

Stage Four: Filling of sand and other management practices

snail

Segmentation will be followed with the filling of sand and other necessary management practices to be taking before the introduction of your snail.

Other styles or methods of constructing snail farms includes the following

1. The Use of Baskets

A basket is a good material for locally made snail cage. It is used for raising hatch-lings of less than three months of age or for incubation of eggs. The major limitation in the use of basket for raising snail is poor durability.

To make snail housing using baskets, the following procedures should be followed:Get a good basket and lay sack on the bottom to hold soil.

  • Fill the basket with hummus or loamy soil to a depth of 15-20cm.
  • Put dry leaves on the soil for mulching.
  • After that, cover the basket with a lid, or chicken wire mesh placed between two mosquito nets and fastened with a wooden frame, to provide protection against insects.

2. Trench Pen Snail House method

Trench pen is a type of snail habitat that is built in a shallow pit. To construct trench pens.

  • Select an appropriate site and peg out the position of your pen.
  • The trench is either dug into the ground or raised 40 – 50cm above ground level using cement blocks.
  • Ensure that the trench is well-drained to prevent water-logging
  • Fill the trench with good loamy soil to a depth of 10 – 15cm.
  • Concrete can be leveled on the floor of the trench before topping with the soil.
  • Construct feeding and water trough to a height 5 –7cm above the soil level.
  • After that, cover the pen properly with a well-fitted framework of chicken wire plus mosquito net.
  • Trench pens have the advantage of being flexible, especially when sorting snails are always easy to locate, for handling, feeding, selection, and final sale or consumption.
  • On the contrary, trench pens have the disadvantage of being expensive to construct (especially the raised trench pen). Secondly, the farmer may end up having backache because of long stooping or kneeling due to the low height of the trench.

3. The use of old tyres

Old tires are less expensive and readily available in urban areas. It can be sourced from local mechanics or vulcanizers and used as a backyard snail farming structure. Although tires have poor ventilation, you can improve ventilation by perforating tires using a hot pointed metal rod.

To constructs snail housing using old tires

Select an appropriate site under a shade.

  • Stack 3 – 4 tires upon one another as shown in the image above.
  • After stacking, fill the tires with suitable loamy soil to a depth of 10 – 15cm.
  • Cover the tires with chicken wire and mosquito mesh, placed between the topmost tire and the second one from the top for protection.

Car tires can hold up to 3 – 6 snails, depending on their sizes. Tires of larger diameters can hold between 5 – 10 mature snails.

In conclusion, snail house is a very important aspect of your snail farm, it determines a lot, it will shock you to know that if your <snail house isn’t as it should, the productivity of your farm will automatically be affected, so as a snail farmer, it will be of huge benefit that you make proper planning, you need to maintain high comfort for your snails for better productivity.

Don’t forget that while you must maintain a high standard, you need to also minimize capital, our methods as discussed above will aid you in reducing the cost of constructing your snail house.

That is all about snail house construction, we hope you have learned a lot from this article, let us know your thought, which of these systems have you tried as a snail farm? If you are an aspiring snail farmer, which do you think will be better for you and why? Let us know in the comment box below

 

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