As in any livestock farmingoperation, good management practices are the key to success.
Most research on farming GALShas been carried out in West Africa.
Seasonal activities, asdescribed below, follow the march of the seasons of West Africa, with breedingand egg laying in March through July. Note that domesticated snails maycontinue laying during the dry season as well (Omole, et al. 2007).
Snail breeders in other partsof the (sub)humid tropics should adapt the management cycle to localconditions.
In semi-intensive or intensivesnail farming, farmers keep and care for hatchlings, growers and breedingsnails in separate hutch boxes or pens.
Caring for Snail Hatchlings
Hatchlings require more humidconditions than adult snails. They should be fed tender leaves, such as paw pawand/or cocoyam, and a calcium supplement for good shell development. The soilin their pens should be kept moist and enough water should be provided. Thepens should be fitted with small gauze wire mesh or nylon mesh; otherwise thesmall snails will escape. Hatchlings and juveniles may be kept at a density ofaround 100/m2
Caring for Snail Growers
Growers should be transferredto separate pens at around 3 months of age, at a stocking density of 30-40snails/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 atsexual maturity, at the age of 10 to 12 months. They should be transferred toboxes or pens at a density of 10-15 snails/m2
Note that stocking densitiesmentioned are indications. The general stocking density guideline of 1-1.5 kgsnail/m2 should always be kept in mind!) soil should be loosened to facilitateegg laying.
The breeders’ ration must berich in crude protein and calcium. Any eggs found on the surface must be buriedpromptly to a depth of 1 to 2 cm. Before hatching, the soil on top of theclutches might be loosened or removed to facilitate uniform emergence. To avoidcannibalism, the breeders must be removed to their growing pens soon after thehatchlings emerge.
Adults no longer required forbreeding are kept in fattening pens until ready for sale or consumption.
Daily management involvesseveral activities which include the following:
Snails should be fed aftersunset. The feed must not be stale or moldy. Leftovers should be removed thefollowing morning. Water should be replenished.
Check whether wire mesh andmosquito netting are intact; repair where necessary. Clean the pens. Keep doorsor covers of the snail pens closed and locked.
Keep the soil moist bymulching and watering if necessary, in the dry season. Never add fresh poultrydroppings to the soil. Change soil in the cages every three months.
Check pens for any deadsnails; remove them immediately. Do not use insecticides or herbicides in yoursnailery. Handle your snails care-fully and wash them with water from time totime.
Record inputs and output ofyour snail farm daily. Include your own labor or that of family members, andinputs, like food or repairs to the pens.