Feeding takes the largest percentage of the total cost of a livestock production. This is one of the distinct features of Agriculture.
Feeding is very important in livestock production; the nature of the feed your farm animals eat the better and improved their productivity.
Thus, snail feeding is very important and a major factor potential snail farmer should consider greatly.
It is imperative a farmer understands snail feeding habit and the type of food snails eat.
Snails are wonderful animals, the effect of the food they eat is more pronounced in snails than other livestock animals.
When you feed your snail with rich feed, you will get laudable yield.
You may wonder why feeding is very important in snail farming; the size of your snail greatly depends on the quality and quantity of the food served. Even in the wild, snails scavenge for nutritious food. In this article, you will know the kind of food snails eat; various mode of feeding in snail farming and other crucial guide on achieving great result through feeding. Read up!
What do snails eat?
People often feel snail can eat anything or anything green. Yes! This is true to some extent but the question is; does everything human eats nourishes the body? Obviously No!
This is because our body needs different type of feed at different time and developmental stage. Same applies to the feeding of snails. Snails are herbivores; they feed on greens. However, to enhance palatability and supplement nutrient, you can as well feed concentrate feed. Concentrate feeds are made from snail feed formula, which contains all the necessary nutrients and minerals required for snail growth and development.
Snails eat leaves, fruits, flowers, tubers etc. But not all these food items are palatable. Snails strongly detest hairy leaves or plants that produce toxic materials such as: Physic nuts.
You need to be wary of the nature of the food you are serving your snails. Examples of food snail eats are:
- Leaves: cocoyam, kola, pawpaw, cassava, eggplant, cabbage, lettuce, fluted pumpkin leaves (Ugu), water leaves (Talinum triangulare)
- Fruits:snails eat varieties of fruits. They feed on: pawpaw, mango, banana, eggplant, pear, oil palm, fig, tomato and cucumber, tomatoes.
- Tubers:cocoyam, yam, sweet potato.
Snails need carbohydrate for supply of energy and protein for physiological growth and development. Vitamins and minerals are also very important, though needed in small quantity, they aid metabolism and also enhance growth. Also, snails require calcium for shell development. You can supplement calcium by sprinkling powered oyster shell or egg shell, ground limestone is also a rich source of calcium for snails.
These are the natural foods snails eat. Amongst all the feeds, pawpaw leaves and fruit have been very outstanding. Several researches have proven that pawpaw is an excellent snail food. Pawpaw leaves are rich in protein; it contains about 60% crude proteins, this will greatly help snail growth and development. Some farmers also give snail household waste. Well, this is dicey and I will not recommend such. This is because, common salt is highly poisonous to snails and virtually all household waste contains salt. So avoid serving snail household wastes.
Tubers are also good for snails as it is a major source of carbohydrate which supplies energy. I did not add cassava tuber even though snail does eat it; but only cassava tuber with low cyanide content. It is best you opt for other sources of energy instead of cassava. These tubers and other feedstuff like: rice, beans etc. can be cooked but do not add salt. Leaves and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, however, fruits are low in protein. This is why you must serve varieties of food to achieve a balanced diet. Young snails thrive best on leafy vegetables, especially the young succulent part. It eases palatability
How do snails eat their feed?
This is another aspect of snail farming that makes snail farmers curious. Most farmers serve their snails and expect the snails to eat them up immediately like other farm animals do. As a snail farmer, you must understand your snail feeding habit; snails are nocturnal animals, that is, they are very active during the night, early morning or rainy day. Snails eat at night and they can be very voracious if the food is appetizing and stimulating, thus, the appearance of the food has to be stimulating. Pawpaw is a good example of snail food that stimulates snails and make them eat more.
Your snail feeding method is also important; you feed snails by placing a flat tray in your snail pen and put the food; do not put the food on the soil, it can attract insects. At night, the snails will crawl to the tray and eat from it. You can go to the pen with a touch at night if you are interested in seeing how snail eats. Remove the tray and clean it daily to enhance cleanliness in the pen.
In addition, snails need water. Water is very important for all animals; serve your snail clean water daily in a shallow dish. For hatchlings and juveniles, serve water with water-soaked cotton wool because small snails may drown.
When feeding your snails, you really need to be conscious of the quality of the food. Do not serve spoilt food as it may attract insects, the greatest enemy of snails. Clean the snail pen daily, evacuate the leftover feeds and serve fresh ones with a clean tray. The best time to feed snails is in the evening, it enhances the freshness of the food till night falls, when the snails are activeor when the temperature is low or humid periods. Serve just once in a day as snails eat once in a day, at night or during rainy days.
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