Snail:Feed and Feeding

Nutrition is the most important factor in snail growth, egg production and attainment of early maturity. Other factors include stocking, relative humidity and soil moisture content. Snails feed mainly in the night / at dusk or by day when there is rain or if there is dark cloud. Numerous teeth-like called radula is present in their mouths which serve as the teeth. The digestive system is well developed. Snails feed on wide varieties of fresh/decayed/plants and animals.
For proper understanding of nutrition, it must be noted that all feeds whether of plant or animal origin is made up of nutrients ( feed constituent that aids the support of animal life). Feed is a word used in animal nutrition while food is used in human nutrition. Classification of the feeds are as follows :
Carbohydrates or energy-rich feed: It provides energy for growth, reproduction and other activities. It comprises : ( A) Tuber crops : Cocoyam, sweet potato, sweet cassava tuber, etc. The tubers can be given raw or cooked . They can also be dried and used in compound ration. (B) Household wastes : Solid pap, bread, cooked rice, cassava pudding, etc. (C) Peels: Peels of cocoyam/sweet potato, banana, plantain, etc. (D) By-products: Wheat offals, rice bran, maize bran and fresh maize chaff, etc. ( E) Grains: Ground maize, sorghum, millet, etc.
Protein-rich feed: Protein is obtained from animal or plant source, it is required for growth, maintenance of body parts and egg production. Sources of protein are soybean residue, fishmeal, meat meal, groundnut cake, poultry droppings, papwpaw leaf, palm kernel cake, cooked beans, etc.
Minerals supplements : Snails need regular supply of calcium and phosphorus for shell formation, good health and maximum production. Minerals in the tissue aid digestion, absorption and transformation of feed to release energy. Sources are dicaktum phosphate, calcium carbonate, bone meal, oyster she’ll, egg shell, snail shell, etc. Deficiency of minerals supplements is shell malformation, which can turn white in colour.
Vitamins: They are essential for the maintenance of health, growth and without them, the animal won’t be able to utilise fully the feed intake. The sources of this are ripe or unripe pawpaw, orange, garden egg, carrots, mango, etc.
Fat and oil : They are good sources of energy. The sources are palm fruits, palm kernel meal, palm oil, etc.
Water : Clean water should be provided always and given without restriction
Use of treated water should be avoided. Compounded ration can be fed to snails. The limitation to the use of compounded ration is that the nutrient requirements of different classes of snail have not been determined especially in the tropics.
Balanced ration contains all the nutrients i.e protein/carbohydrate minerals and vitamins, etc in right or adequate proportion is such a way that the nutrient needs of the particular animal are completely met.
In snail rearing, two or more feeds could be combined and served together.Such combination should contain protein/energy/minerals and vitamin-rich feeds. Such combination will improve the performances of snail. E.g (1) Cocoyam tuber +pawpaw leaf+orange+calcium carbonate. (2) Sweet potato +soybean residue +ground poultry egg shell+pineapple .
The right time to feed snails as a nocturnal animal is between 5 and 7 PM, after previous feed remnants have been removed. Snails eat a little quantity of feed compared to other conventional livestock such as poultry and sheep, etc. Since a wide variety of feeds is given to snail, it is very difficult to be specific on feed consumption. Factors affecting feed consumption are as follows:
(1) Environmental condition: Snails eat well when the relative humidity is high, i.e above 85% or when the temperature is low ( 25-28 degrees Celsius) snails will not eat if the environment is too dry.
(2) Age of the snail: The young hatchings prefer leaves of pawpaw and coconut, etc to fruits and tubers.
(3) Moisture content of the seed: Feed consumption will be high if the feed is in wet form or having high moisture content.
(4) Quality of the feed : Fresh feed e.g maize chaff, should be given to snails. Stale, mouldy or fermented feed e.g fermented maize chaff should not be given to snail.

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